The recent announcement that the Falcon Wagon will be discontinued may have left some enthusiasts worried about the future of this iconic Australian model. But at the top end of the Falcon range those concerns are unnecessary as FPV continues to unleash fierce V8-powered versions of the Ford mainstay. One of the current top-dogs in the FPV kennel is the high performance GT-P that comes stacked with the latest tech Ford’s performance arm has to offer. Car and SUV had a test drive in the GT-P to take it off the leash and see if its bite matches its loud bark.
The GT-P’s bark can be first heard in the loud exterior styling that leaves no one confused about the leery nature of this modern muscle car. Finished in a trademark Ford blue hue our test vehicle didn’t feature the ‘Boss’ decals set (available as a no-cost option), but still had a bullying athletic presence. The tone is set at the front where a “power bulged” bonnet lives above frowning headlights with war-painted grey accents and a massive lower air dam. The skirting is continued down the flanks and out back a high boot spoiler, black rear diffuser and dual exhausts confirm sinister intent. GT-P badging can be found on all four sides and bright red Brembo brake calipers hide behind distinctive 19-inch alloys. The GT-P is slightly more graceful and less in your face aesthetically than its HSV rivals, but still communicates its performance credentials with a menacing purpose.
It’s not about how big the bulge in your bonnet is, but what’s packed in underneath, and for the GT-P it’s an Aussie-built 5.4-litre Boss 315 V8 power plant. Up against HSV’s 6.2-litre LS3 unit the GT-P gives away 800cc in displacement and is out to prove size doesn’t matter. Its plan of attack is to use modern components including quad overhead camshafts (instead of pushrods in the HSV) and 4-valves per cylinder (instead of 2). The result is 315kW of power and a whopping 551Nm of torque. What this translates to on the road is an estimated 0-100 kph sprint time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed around the 280kph mark. From idle there is less torque that you’d expect from an engine this size but it comes on strong and peaks at 6,500rpm. Generous mid-range acceleration is a true strength of the GT-P, making for effortless open road overtaking. The GT-P can be brutally fast in a straight line and the Boss engine easily serves up more power than the 245/35 rear tyres can shift to the tarmac.
Power is transferred through a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, which is a capable unit. There are no steering-wheel paddles but a sequential floor-shift is available for manual changes. However, what works best is the ‘Performance Mode’ that has a learning logic and speculates what shift patterns the driver desires. It’s a clever system that doesn’t leave you hanging in a high gear and is content to stay close to the redline during cornering. Gearshifts can be heard with a bark in the exhaust note especially when changing from first to second. Fuel consumption is never pretty with V8 power and although Ford quotes it at 14.2l/100km combined, during our testing we could only manage around 16.5l.
The GT-P is tailor-made for Australia’s long straight roads and the ride quality reflects it with what’s a mildly firm suspension set-up. It has a supple feel and monotube dampers help gobble up bumps and divots easier than many performance orientated vehicles. The suspension is a double wishbone front, IRS rear configuration that functions admirably but can’t entirely negate the heavy feel of the car’s porky 1852 kg kerb weight. Even with the 19-inch rims and low profiles, little tyre roar or wind noise enters the cabin allowing for the rousing soundtrack from the Boss engine to dominate.
Although handling isn’t a traditional strength of Aussie V8s, the GT-P feels fairly tame on windy roads but still needs to be handled correctly. The heavy V8 engine does make the car’s front heavy, when turning into a corner quickly the front wheels can struggle for grip. That said, the steering has a predictable feel and once the nose is settled power can be applied and the GT-P will exit at pace. The compliant suspension does allow for some body roll but overall the GT-P is well balanced. Push too hard and it won’t be a big surprise when the rear end begins to slide and the traction control system intervenes. The traction control allows for some leeway and isn’t overly intrusive, but there’s also plenty of feedback from the rear wheels to help the driver judge exactly how much throttle is too much throttle.
While the outside of the GT-P is all about aggression the inside is a mix of comfort and purpose. Like all large Aussie sedans, driver and passenger accommodations are spacious and cosseting. But the cabin is an area that the Falcon has its Commodore rivals well beaten. There’s a feeling of quality to the materials and fit with a low-key mix of dark plastics and silver accents. The GT-P detailed leather seats are deep and the driving position is nicely low with a high control console wrapping around the driver. Despite the wide A-pillars, visibility is still good and the colour LCD control screen is perfectly placed in the driver’s line-of-sight. The control menu systems are intuitive and a reversing camera is a safe addition considering the GT-P’s high rear deck lid and boot spoiler. Other electronic tricks include Bluetooth, a 6-disc CD stereo with excellent i-Pod integration, push-button start, trip computer and dual zone air con. The only real complaints with the GT-P interior are with the steering wheel that doesn’t adjust high enough for taller drivers and the instrument cluster that is thin and slightly cluttered. Overall the GT-P interior is comfortable, spacious and loaded with high-tech kit, it’s a pleasure to occupy and a true selling point.
The bottom line is that there’s a lot to like about FPV’s GT-P. It’s adept at providing comfortable and relaxed cruising, but still possesses the ability to excite the senses and be ferociously fast. The suspension allows for a livable daily ride comfort and the styling is suitably brutish on the exterior while thoughtful and inviting inside. The Boss 315 motor is an Aussie triumph in its ability to compete with HSV’s larger GM sourced LS3 engine and it matches up well with the smart ZF auto transmission. There aren’t many options when buying an Australian performance sedan, but the GT-P won’t have many defecting over to the other side and might just challenge some Holden fans to check their loyalties.
What we like:
- Exterior Styling
- Cabin comfort and appointments
- Well-mannered when cruising
- Exciting V8 power plant
What we don’t like:
- Minimal height adjustment on steering wheel
- Fuel economy
- Low rpm torque
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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