I’m no longer a virgin. There I’ve said it. It’s out and I’m not ashamed, even though I’ve nearly hit 40. You see, the fact of the matter is that after a lifetime of owning and driving four- and six-cylinder cars (including some with a lot of horsepower) I’ve just driven my first V8, ever! It was a ‘BIG’ milestone as I’m sure you can imagine.
The Force 8 was the one responsible for popping my cherry, and being a bit knackered after all that excitement and exertion, it was time for a sit down and a nice cup of tea (as I don’t smoke). Time now to reflect on the pleasure of losing my V8 ’ginity, and to tell you ‘how it was for me’.
Aimed squarely at the executive market, this understated offering from Ford boasts luxury and performance without making you feel like a poseur (a la GT-P). For this reason you won’t notice it coming down the road, but as it cruises past you, a few cheeky cues will present themselves and leave you wanting more.
Not the usual attention grabbing ‘package’ I agree, but enough to start a stirring the loins. From the exterior there’s the bulge (ahem) in the bonnet, sans posing stripes, big 19″ alloys sneaking a peak at the shiny red 4-pot Brembos (6 pots available), small chrome’esque touches here and there, and at the rear end there is a small pouting lip spoiler on the boot.
On the interior there is stitched leather upholstery in a range of (two) colours, black and red. The red, for me, is a bit over the top and must look like something you’d find adorning the waiting room of a brothel (according to the Editor). Add to this the usual mix of black and aluminium effect trim, dark woodgrain inserts and it represents a comfortable and entertaining environment to be in.
Sounds are provided by the 150W audio system with subwoofer and in dash 6CD, which strangely doesn’t play MP3s. Information for audio and climate controls are neatly combined on the colour TFT display, however overall usability left me fiddling at the traffic lights and studying the manual on the driveway. Combined electric driver’s seat and mirror memory settings, as well as power adjustable pedals are nice touches
So what’s my first ‘V8 experience’ like to drive? Well, the earth certainly moved for me but not in the raw edged, rough, gruff way I was expecting. The chassis is well composed and the FPV-tweaked 290kW, 5.4L quad-cam, 32-valve engine responsive, albeit playing with a subdued soundtrack.
To help keep a handle on those 520Nm of torques the limited slip diff (LSD) and traction control (TC) do their best to keep you heading forwards. Squeals of delight are regularly heard from the rear tyres, and 69 had to give way to 11 as my favourite number for a while. Sporting 245/35 profile tyres it does however tramline on some road surfaces.
In the wet the excitement heightens, with a lardy love-handle laden 1800Kg of bulk to try and hold onto, Stability control might be a welcome addition. Brakes need to be no less well endowed than they currently are, at 355mm front, 300mm rear, slotted and cross drilled, to be up to the task of stopping this beefcake.
Even being a bit portly 0-100 Km/h is dealt to in around 6 seconds, with the advanced ‘joy of six’ speed ZF 6HP26 high-torque auto ‘box shifting swiftly to keep the momentum going. Sports shift is available too if you want to take control and show it who’s boss.
So in summary, I couldn’t think of a better way to ‘go’, it was such a moving experience for me and I looked longingly up the road long after it was gone. A very welcome piece of competition then for the luxury performance models available from Holden and Europe.
Price: from $79,290
What we like:
- Understated classy looks
- Brembo brakes
- Start button on the dash
- Electric pedal adjustment
- That bulge on the bonnet
What we don’t like:
- Tacked on gauge pods (oil pressure & temp)
- Surprisingly little rear legroom for such a big car
- Pedals too close together
Words Phil Clark, photos Darren Cottingham