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FPV 2006 Review

The latest move by Ford Performance Vehicles is a pair of "stealth" performers — Force 6 and Force 8.

With far more subtle styling, badging and body kits, the incognito V8 Force 8 and turbo six Force 6 are, as one pundit described it, a GT and Typhoon with their zips done up.

"I have no doubt that the Force models will find particular favour with corporate executives who want an Australian-built alternative to European luxury marques," FPV boss Sak Ryopponen says. "Many executives want the performance of these cars but feel a little uncomfortable putting the more overt performance models in the staff carpark."

Ryoppenen says he is confident that recent fuel-price fluctuations and contractions in the large-car market will have no long-term effect on luxury performance vehicles provided current fuel-price improvements can be stabilised through Christmas and New Year.

The Force cars headline a range of minor changes to the full model line-up in keeping with the Ford BF MkII mid-life freshen. Joining the GT-P as the flagship of the FPV range, the Force 6 will retail for $71,590 and the Force 8 $71,990.

The full FPV range starts with the F6 Tornado at $54,170 and the F6 Typhoon at $61,810. The V8 GT is $62,210, while the GT-P sits at $70,410.

In the ute line, the Pursuit is $54,170 while the Super Pursuit is priced at $59,200. Under the bonnet of the Force 8 is the quad cam 5.4-litre Boss 290 V8 with 290kW@5500rpm and a rumbling 520Nm of torque peaking at 4500rpm.

Force 6 is driven by the intercooled F6 270 Turbo in-line six, which punches out 270kW of power at 5250rpm and a flat-bed 550Nm of torque from 2000-4250rpm.

Both come with four-piston front and single-piston rear Brembo brakes — an upgrade to the six-piston front and four-piston rear is optional. The 19-inch alloys are shod with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber, standard on the FPV range.

A limited-slip differential, sports-tuned suspension, a subtle body kit, including a lip spoiler on the boot, specific embossed leather interior. performance steering wheel, a prestige audio system, adjustable pedal box and dark wood trim. On the road the Force cars behave exactly as you'd expect.

FPV's widely-praised poise and steering feel is still at the top of the list of ticks.

The weighting of the steering is just right with neither vagueness nor undue heaviness. The ride on the new 19-inch rims and Dunlop rubber over some seriously unsettling surfaces was — if not plush — certainly comfortable enough to be worthy of comment. The damping was outstanding.

And of the two cars, while the Boss offers the rumbling power promise of a traditional bent eight, it is still the brilliant straight six turbo that lights up the range.

Enlarge the garage

The boys at FPV are being more coy than a blushing bride on wedding night, but mention a high-performance Territory and you can see the sparkle.

"There is no program approval for a Territory," FPV boss Sak Ryopponen says with a straight face — a demeanour that dissolves into a wide grin when the question of whether program approval is in the process of being sought. "Every project is on the table and new ideas being canvassed all the time.

"We would certainly like to do something with the Territory but whether it would be commercially viable is the question.

"What I would say is that we have satisfied ourselves that we can do it."

Having launched the performance badge in 2002 — stepping into the shoes of Tickford Engineering — with just three models, the GT, GT-P and Pursuit Ute, FPV has been on a rapid growth program.

In October 2004 the F6 Typhoon launched amid clutch reliability issues, followed in April 2005 by the F6 Tornado. In July of the same year the ute family grew to include the Super Pursuit and with the launch of the Force 6 and Force 8, the model range has trebled in four years.

"If I had to nominate a number that would be a good model garage I suppose 10 comes to mind," Ryopponen says.

Just enough room for a Territory.

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