HSV Clubsport 2013 review
It’s the automotive equivalent of the sibling rivalry between Mark and Steve Waugh. Both are...
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The big Aussie V8 is an endangered species, with just a few examples left before their eventual extinction. But it seems that Ford Performance Vehicles’ swan song, the FPV GT-P, is destined to be remembered. This last hurrah for Ford's performance brand is a fitting exit – rather than a meek walk into retirement.
It's got a 5.0-litre V8 with a huge supercharger strapped to it, delivering a walloping 335kW and seismically detectable 570Nm of torque. Courtesy of the extra air from the Harrop supercharger, maximum torque is available from 2200 to 5500 rpm, providing ample opportunity for upshift wheelspin.
The V8 is referred to by Ford as the BOSS – and it certainly sounds like a boss I once had, with the throaty bellow accompanied by a magnificent supercharger whine. The 5.0 litre Coyote V8 replaced the old 5.4 in 2010 due to emissions restrictions.
It's obviously a Ford Falcon, but it's rather meaner looking. Our car was a fairly frightening shade of hi-vis orange, but even so, the styling mods are classy and fit the car and its character well -- a mix of elegance and hooliganism. The bonnet's big power bulge is almost enough to obscure part of your view forward while rear view is bisected by a wing so big you could park your second car underneath it in a hail storm.
The temptation to cram a set of 21-inch rollers in the wheel arches has, thankfully, been avoided, with the 19s looking just right in what has always been a handsome body. The quad exhausts and side skirts complete the package. The cabin is dominated by the excellent front seats, with big, arrowhead shaped bolsters and GT-P logos embroidered on the headrest.
The dash is pretty standard Falcon, with a big red starter button and a dodgy identifier disc low on the console, the two split by the FPV logo. The mix of leather and suede is grippy, comfortable and attractive. The instrument panel is largely the same as any other Falcon, with the exception of the supercharger's boost pressure gauge – or ‘fun dial’, if you like.
The rear seats get the excellent leather and suede combo, too, with more embroidery in the fixed headrests. It's not a lavish interior, but it certainly camouflages the few bits of standard Falcon interior and reminds you that you're in something special.
The $82,040 GT-P is the slightly more luxurious version of the FPV GT. The $12,000 price difference is accounted for with leather and suede covered seats, different alloy wheels, satnav with traffic warnings and various trim items. The P also picks up 6-pot Brembo calipers up front (four on the GT) and four pot rear calipers (single pot on the GT). The discs are the same size, with 355mm on the front and 330mm at the rear. Both cars share the 8-inch screen with reverse camera and reverse sensors, USB for iPods and Bluetooth connectivity.
Five star safety is a given, with six airbags, ABS and traction and stability control.
Despite the aggressive bolsters, which you have to contort around when you're getting in, the seats are comfortable for even generously-proportioned folk. The driving position is still that weird too-high-wheel-in-your-lap position of the Falcon so you do have to shuffle around to get settled.
But it's worth it. The GT-P is an absolute riot to drive. Anyone who buys one as a track car is insane, because this is about as intentionally loose as any car on the market today. The 245/35 tyres are deliberately narrower than what you might find on an HSV, delivering a wonderful, tail-happy, fun-loving experience.
That's not to say it's unsafe - keep the traction control switched on and it just hints at the available hilarity. In a straight line you get a bit of a chirp before the technobrains calm it all down. With the traction off, you could easily paint a pair of straight or curly black lines, even in the dry. It's down to you and your appetite for tyre shops.
In the wet, it's a handful, but you're not buying one of these cars for an easy drive. Or are you? One of its greatest assets is a superb ride, and that comes without the qualification of "for a sporty car." It has a terrific level of compliance. If you kidnapped, blindfolded and put ear defenders on a regular Falcon owner, they'd be hard pressed to tell it wasn't a standard car on a run around the block.
There's a tiny bit of body roll as a result, but it's worth it for the everyday usability. It cruises beautifully, the V8 pounding out a muted, happy beat. The stereo will amuse you with its power and the comfortable seats save your back from the worst excesses of Australian road repairs.
Start chucking it around and it's clear that FPV were out for maximum fun rather than maximum speed. The rear end is properly lively, the rear tyres shrieking in harmony with the supercharger's operatic, soaring voice when traction control is switched off. The whole experience is extremely addictive and sets it apart from the more serious HSVs it is supposed to compete with.
The limited slip differential makes for excellent turn-in and fantastic power-out exploitability. One imagines powerslides (obviously unavailable on public roads)(ahem) are a simple flex of the ankle and flick of the wrists away. It's a real slow in, sideways out kind of car and is all the better for it. The only chink in its armour is a Boonie-like thirst of well over 15l/100km in mixed driving. A sobering 20l will surely hove into view during a spirited drive.
It'll cheerfully paint black stripes on the road every time you ask it but also tow or carry whatever you want and not force you into a compromise. It'll do everything a normal Falcon will do, just faster, noisier and in the case of the orange paint, far more loudly. The FPV is a fantastic, joyous, unapologetic machine, devoted to grins rather than lap times. If you're going to go extinct, you may as well go with a bang.
2014 FPV GT-P
Price: from $82,040
Engine: 5.0L eight-cylinder, 335kW/570Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or auto, RWD
Thirst: 13.7L/100Km, CO2 324g/km
|(base)||5.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$34,760 – 41,360||2013 FPV GT-P 2013 (base) Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on 3 car listings in the last 6 months