Toyota Camry 2008 Review
The silent Toyota Camry Hybrid starts with a slight judder, the electric motor maybe deciding if it needs help to get away.
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But it’s got more punch as well as presence. There’s no doubt they stand out with their panda eyes and sharp styling. And in case you missed what tribe they’re from, for the first time FPV badging has appeared on the bodies – visible from virtually every angle.
The GT striping will be a matter of personal preference – and the red stripes on orange particularly personal, at that.
Extending the approach of the Falcon FG range introduced three months ago, the go-fast versions have muscle cues from every angle.
Following the Falcon realignment – which saw names like Fairmont and Ghia disappear in favour of the alphabetic FG and G6 – the FPV family has lost Typhoon, Tornado and Force and now has GT and F6.
The GT cars carry the 5.4-litre V8, which has been given a thorough working over to squeeze more power out of it and allow them to rename it from the Boss 302 to the Boss 315.
A new twin plate throttle, new camshaft profile and timing, new stainless steel straight-through exhaust manifolds and higher compression ratio are just part of the crew assembled to lift the outputs to 315kw of power – an increase of 13kW and peaking 500rpm higher at 6500 — and 551Nm of torque at 4750rpm.
The 4.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder in the F6 cars has had similar treatment, with the power up a whopping 40kW to hit 310kW at 5500rpm, and torque has risen to peak at 565Nm all the way from 1950rpm to 5200rpm. That makes for a torque curve so flat it would meet the regulations for a billiard table at world championship level.
But it’s not about a power war, says FPV managing director Rod Barrett. It’s about making the cars more driveable.
Helping with that job are the transmission choices, with the fantastic ZF six-speed sequential joined by the TR6060 short-throw six-speed manual.
The top speed has been limited to 250km/h in the sedans and 240km/h in the utes. Ford won’t give performance figures, but we clocked a very rough 5.9 for the 0-100km/h in the manual F6 Ute – our least favourite of the drives – and a point faster in the sedan. That was at first meeting. Concensus was that with a bit of familiarity, mid-fives would be easily possible.
All that work on the drivetrain hasn’t been solely focused on more punch. Fuel consumption has been trimmed, with the six-cylinder using seven per cent less to post a figure of 12.1L/100km, while the Boss has cut its thirst by just under five per cent at 14L/100km.
The prices run in parallel through to the mid-range, with $57,990 getting you into the F6 and (GT) Pursuit utes – with the Super Pursuit at $5000 more — while $65,990 is on the F6 and GT sedans. The GT-P sits at $75,990, while the GT E tops the price range at $76,990.
Dynamic Stability Control is standard across the range for the first time, and every variant gets Brembo anchors with a broad ability to upgrade to larger ones on their sport wheels with low-profile rubber.
There’s a prevalence of the plastic `carbon fibber’ patterned accent in the trim, but overall the interior materials are top notch –heavily embossed gunmetal fabric, sueded finishes, white saddle-stitching and metallics all straddle the sport-luxe boundary comfortably.
The gauge graphics are superb and easily readable, although in one car we had a glitch that killed their backlighting.
But overall, there was the feeling of genuine quality that people look for in European brands.
Similarly to performance, FPV won’t give sales predictions, but said they sold 2127 last year, and expect to do `more’.
They admit that buyers won’t be coming over from the Red Lion, but from previous FPVs, the Ford range and other brands – and there are hopes to lure some Euro-shoppers as well. If they can get past those red stripes.
While the new face of the FPV range might whack in you in the eye, the reworked engines will result in a whack of the seatback into your shoulderblades every time you press the pedal.
Both the eight and the six unleash a glorious burst of torque – and an exultant roar – that should warn everything out of your path. And if it doesn’t, the rush of speed means that overtaking is more a matter of simply teleporting past the traffic.
We’ve loved the ZF transmission since we first tried it in the BFII, and the couple of years since haven’t dimmed the affection. Coupled with the revised engines, this is a wonderful bit of kit, but the six-speed manual is no slouch either with slick action and great feel.
There’s no doubt the Boss engine will attract those who believe the old mantra that there’s no replacement for displacement, but for sheer pleasure the six is the pick. When it kicks in, the exhilaration is palpable.
And where the GT cars felt nose heavy in cornering, the F6 versions were noticeably more poised.
The only exception to this was the F6 Ute, which – although it’s probably not often going to be bought as a workhorse – jolted around like it was begging for a heavy toolbox in the tray. The empty workload area also tended to amplify road noise, which was noticeable across the range on even smooth surfaces.
But these are minor niggles on what is otherwise a triumph of a range. FPV has taken what was already a decent drive in the new FG Falcon, and turned it into something quite special indeed.
|ES||4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$4,500 – 7,260||2008 Ford Falcon 2008 ES Pricing and Specs|
|ES (lpg)||4.0L, LPG, 4 SP AUTO||$4,700 – 7,590||2008 Ford Falcon 2008 ES (lpg) Pricing and Specs|
|Futura||4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$5,300 – 8,250||2008 Ford Falcon 2008 Futura Pricing and Specs|
|Futura (LPG)||4.0L, LPG, 4 SP AUTO||$4,500 – 7,260||2008 Ford Falcon 2008 Futura (LPG) Pricing and Specs|
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