FPV: 2014 FPV GT review

FPV: 2014 FPV GT review

DSC_0047Video killed the radio star, and the rise and rise of the SUV has unfortunately also killed off the demand for the large performance executive and family sedan.

Which is a great pity, because for fast point to point, comfortable motoring, a grand touring sports sedan will out perform most mass market SUV’s.

Don’t for a moment think the big rear-wheel-drive mass market performance sedan is being killed off by the price of fuel, or by the environmentalists, because I can assure you that from recent experience driving large 4×4 petrol SUV’s, they are as equally as thirsty, if not more so, than the performance sedans currently on offer from FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) and HSV (Holden Special Vehicles).

DSC_0055The announcement by Ford that the range of performance FPV sedans and utilities will be discontinued when the FG series Falcon receives an update later this year, was not unexpected, but I decided it would be a great time to have a wander down memory lane, hence the GT press vehicle pictured here in a fitting shade called Vixen.

FPV was to Ford as HSV is to Holden, AMG is currently to Mercedes-Benz, and M Sport is to BMW. It was an independent specialist engineering division that produced high-performance versions of the rear-wheel-drive Falcon and Falcon utility car-line for Blue Oval fans.

DSC_0051FPV captured the motor-sport and performance history of the GT Falcon but brought it kicking and screaming into the modern realm.

The FPV cars had more powerful engines and modern transmission technology, but more importantly they also have better braking, suspension, and overall handling than the GT Falcons of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. No more tail happy behaviour was allowed!

For a very brief window of time FPV also produced a high-powered turbocharged six-cylinder Ford Territory SUV which was marketed as the FPV F6-X but this was subsequently fpv-gt-p-1-bigdiscontinued.

Since the FG series Falcon was launched in 2008, I’ve driven the luxury equipped GT-P and the GT-E versions of this supercharged 5-litre V8 FPV sedan but never the “entry-level” GT, which has a list price of $86,990 in manual or automatic transmission.

The GT is the purist version of the FPV, offering prodigious performance, tenacious handling, and impressive comfort without the fripperies of satellite navigation and a premium leather interior with other luxury accoutrements.

However the equally in-your-face FPV GT-P (P for premium) does offer buyers a premium leather interior, and satellite gt4navigation, plus a few more features, and interior upgrades, than the lesser equipped GT to command a price tag of $95,990.

Sadly Ford have now discontinued the FPV GT-E (E for executive) which was a far more conservative version of the GT-P, while it had the same level of specification inside, on the outside of the vehicle it did without the lurid stripe package, panda style headlamp treatment and giant boot lid spoiler.

The GT-E appealed to conservative executive who wanted a more discreetly executed FPV that still provided thrilling performance but didn’t shout it out from the roof tops as the overtly macho GT and GT-P do.

DSC_0047Age is betraying the seven-year-old design of the GT in that it doesn’t offer paddle shifters for the transmission, or items such as blind-spot assist, lane departure warning, radar cruise control, or a number of electronic items found in smaller and more modern Fords such as the Mondeo, Focus, and Fiesta.

Underneath the power bulging bonnet of the FPV is the heart and soul of the GT, a 335 kilowatt Coyote V8 engine to which the FPV engineers added an Eaton supercharger to produce a spine tingling howl, as the six-speed automatic transmission pushes the 570 Newton metres of torque through the rear wheels.

This nearly two-tonne five-seat sedan will accelerate from zero DSC_0042to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, and the feral snarling sound that comes out of the exhaust as it does this is just magnificent. The hairs on the back of your neck will stand up, and the missus in the passenger seat will give you a filthy look as she has to re-adjust her coiffure.

To put that performance into perspective you’d need a Mercedes-Benz C63 or a BMW M3 to be able match such performance, and neither car will offer you the cabin space or the ride quality of the Australian-built sedan, and nor do they have as many service centres and dealers available to them in New Zealand.

DSC_0040But equally the FPV isn’t just about show and go, its also got a job to do as a long distance grand tourer, and this is a role the car does extremely well.

You are never in any doubt that the GT is a big car but the cornering prowess on those 19 inch Dunlop Sport tyres is impressive as the GT feels light, nimble, and adjustable through winding back country roads.

However you do need to be a bit careful with that instant throttle response, especially in the wet, the traction control will do its best to rein the GT in, but it is more than capable of a power-oversteer tail waggle if the driver is being incautious with the accelerator pedal.

Most impressively and where the GT lauds it over the more expensive European sport sedans, is that while it has a firmer ride quality than the standard Ford Falcon, it manages to stay composed over the worst conditions that NZ roads can throw at it, and all the while maintains a comfortable ride for the occupants.

Its also got to pull up as well, and let me assure you it does.

The huge Brembo brakes – with cross-drilled ventilated rotors and four-piston callipers which are located behind the GT’s 19 inch alloy wheels – are as good at bringing the car to a quick halt as the engine is at firing it from zero to loose-your-drivers-licence warp speed.

Inside the cabin is generically Falcon with touches of FPV thrown in for good measure, such as the odd stop/start button which still needs the key to be inserted into the ignition switch, the FPV build number decal, and the FPV specific dashboard gauges.

There’s only partial power-adjustment for the driver’s seat, but once sorted, it is one of the most comfortable in the business, and spending a few hours behind the wheel won’t leave you with back ache.

On the open road you can easily achieve fuel economy of 11L/100km which is better than the official figures supplied by Ford of 13.7L/100km, however around the city this will drastically plummet to 18 to 19L/100km quite easily. The GT does not like the urban crawl and it will cost you at the pump.

In many ways the GT is a bit of a dinosaur, and for the money you can certainly get a better equipped and much more frugal vehicle, but it won’t have quite the same bellowing character and motor-sport heritage as this FPV does.

 Price: $86,990

Pros:

  • European style performance at an affordable price
  • Great leg room for rear passengers
  • Great boot space for a sedan
  • Sure to become a collectable classic

Cons:

  • Urban fuel consumption is heavy
  • Low front spoiler easily damaged
  • Stripe package not to everyones taste
  • Still a handful in the wet even with traction control

Specifications:

Body type: Four-door sedan
Drive: Rear-wheels
Engine type: V8 petrol supercharged
Engine capacity: 4951cc
Max power: 335kW/5750 rpm
Max torque: 570Nm/2200 rpm
Fuel consumption: 13.7L/100km
C02 emissions: 325g/km
Front suspension: Double wishbone with coils
Rear suspension: Independent control blade
ABS brakes: Yes
Air bags: 6
ESP: Yes
Air conditioning: Dual-zone climate
Lap/diagonal belts: 5
Satellite navigation: N/a
Electric seats: Driver only
Security alarm: Yes
Panic button: No
Boot release: Yes
Boot capacity: 535-litres
Wheel type: 19 inch alloy
Spare wheel: Full size alloy

Words and pictures:

« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Quattro roadshow hits New Zealand Audi dealers

The Audi quattro Roadshow is making its way throughout New Zealand this winter, as part of Audi’s “Land of quattro,...

Close