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FPV revives GS tag for sub-GT special

Green meanie: FPV's limited-edition GS is effectively an upspec Falcon XR8 with FPV's GT goodies underneath.

Limited-edition FPV GS woos hot Ford buyers with $55K price point

31 Aug 2009

FORD Performance Vehicles (FPV) has dug deep into Ford’s archives and dusted off a venerable old Ford Falcon nameplate, GS, for its new V8-only limited-edition sedan and ute model.

Like the original GS Falcon launched in the legendary XW-series Falcon range in 1969, the born-again GS will sit one rung below the GT in the 2009 FPV range, in specification, price, power and prestige, as a temporary entry-level model.

A cross between Ford’s regular XR8 and FPV’s GT, the $54,950 (plus dealer delivery and statutory charges) GS is almost $13,000 cheaper in sedan guise than the $67,890 GT and the similarly priced six-cylinder turbo F6, which currently serve as the range gateway.

Importantly, the GS undercuts the cheapest Commodore-based performance model from rival Holden Special Vehicles, the 317kW $65,990 Clubsport R8, by almost $11,000, at least until HSV’s new E Series 2 breaks cover next month.

The FPV GS price, however, commands a premium of almost $7000 over the $47,990 Falcon XR8 (manual), which some media observers speculate might ultimately be usurped by a permanent edition of the GS in the next FPV generation.

The new GS is much closer to the GT in the performance stakes, however, as it gets most of the GT’s go-fast bits, including the suspension set-up and the GT’s Boss 5.4-litre V8 powertrain, minus a few revs at the top-end of the powerband – courtesy of a little electronic strangulation.

19 center imageThis confines the GS version of the bent eight to a conveniently numbered 302kW – allowing FPV to whack “302” stickers on the bonnet to further revive memories of the optional 302 cubic-inch Windsor V8 of the original GS – at a capped 6000rpm, compared with the GT’s 315kW output at a more generous 6500rpm.

Why the party-poopers at FPV have done this is a mystery, except perhaps that they don’t want the GS to take too much glory from their flagship GT Series, which includes the base GT, pumped GT-P and more svelte, wingless GT E.

However, as FPV general manager Rod Barrett cheerfully admits, picky FPV GS owners are likely to seek solace at a “hot chip” service provider for a bit of redline reprogramming, despite FPV’s best efforts to wrap the engine management system in tricky electronic security.

Whether GS buyers will need to do this is a moot point, as performance of the V8 all the way to its 6000rpm cut-out is nigh-on identical anyway, even delivering identical peak torque of 551Nm at 4750rpm. But, no, some desperates will want to retrieve those last half-thousand revs, come hell or high revs.

No 0-100km/h acceleration figures are quoted by FPV, but to bastardise the oft-quoted Rolls-Royce-ism, progress should be adequate.

Fuel economy figures of the GS sedan are also a facsimile of those from the powertrain donor GT, at 14.2 litres per 100km for the six-speed manual and 14.0L/100km for the six-speed ZF automatic ($2000 option).

Likewise, CO2 emissions are the same, at 340 grams per kilometre and 334g/km for the manual and auto respectively.

The GS ute’s official efficiency figures are marginally higher than those of the sedan, at a respective 14.7 and 14.4L/100km for the manual/auto and 352 and 344g/km respectively.

The GS ute is priced at $49,950 – $9040 cheaper than the current entry-level FPV working-class GT equivalent, the $58,990 Pursuit, and $5000 more affordable than the GS sedan.

Body-wise, think Falcon XR8. This is where FPV has made savings over the GT, retaining the standard production-line XR8 bodykit and bulging bonnet from Broadmeadows, but sprucing it up with a unique colour palette, black mesh grille, driving lamps, 19-inch alloys (Graphite on the sedan and Alpine Silver on the ute) with the GT’s low-profile Dunlop Sport Maxx rubber and some stripes that will send 1970s car lovers delirious.

However, dead-set giveaways to the GT lurking beneath are the big-bore twin exhausts protruding from the rear in place of the XR8’s single unit – the tip of the GT powertrain iceberg which starts with FPV’s own starter button and wends its way through the GT’s twin throttle bodies, special inlet manifold and high-performance cylinder-heads and out through the GT headers and sports exhaust system.

The GT performance package extends to the chassis, where the GT’s springs and dampers have been added, in league with the ‘Performance’ version of Ford’s Control Blade independent rear-end, on the sedan at least.

Unfortunately, the cost cutting becomes evident in the brakes, with the GT’s four-pot Brembo front disc brakes going AWOL from the standard GS fare, replaced by standard two-pot screamers on ventilated discs at the front and solid discs at the rear.

However, a Brembo performance brakes package with the four-piston front callipers and ventilated discs all round is on the options list for those who want the full GT go-to-whoa experience.

The safety package includes front and front-side/thorax driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes, electronic traction and stability control and electronic brake-force distribution.

Inside, the interior is a revised and optioned-up version of the XR8s sporty décor, with a few FPV flourishes that include the GT’s “light up like Las Vegas” sports instruments, leather-wrapped gear-knob and steering wheel, FPV mats and scuff plates and the aforementioned starter button.

Dual-zone climate-control, a six-CD premium audio system with iPod integration and MP3 auxiliary plug plus Bluetooth connectivity, are all standard.

The XR8-style sports seats (with four-way power adjustment) are trimmed in black cloth, unless you want to stump up extra for the ‘Nudo Shadow’ leather option, which, if the take-up rate on FPV options is any guide, most buyers will. While you are there, you may as well tick the box for rear safety camera and sat-nav.

The GS ute gets a cut-down list of three colours (the GS sedan has six choices), with its own style of GS motifs and an FPV soft tonneau cover.

FPV says its limited run of 325 units – 250 GS sedans and 75 GS utes – have all been snapped up by its 71 dealers, and buyers will need to get their skates on to get their hooks into one after they go on sale from September 1.

FPV expects a 50/50 split on auto and manual orders for the GS, which will be the last special-edition before the updated FPV range arrives in the middle of next year with a new alloy V8 and revised inline turbo-six.

But for lovers of the stonking 310kW 4.0-litre turbo six-cylinder engine, you are out of luck: FPV says the GS is and will remain V8-only.

FPV GS pricing:
GS sedan $54,950
GS ute $49,950

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