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FPV GS/GT 2010 Review

The company's first supercharged V8 has put the GT range back at the top of the FPV food chain - some say it never left, but the turbo six for many has taken some beating by the V8s - and FPV general manager Rod Barrett says the company is proud of the new range.

"The new engine is amazing, its all-round performance frankly sets a benchmark for Australian-made cars, and the exciting thing is that it has been developed here, for our cars," he says.

Mr Barrett believes FPV customers won’t be disappointed by the performance of the new GT range.  "They have real presence with the new graphics package - we’ve created cars that fully deserve to be part of the Falcon GT heritage and, I think, will write an exciting new chapter in the model’s history," he says.

PRICING AND DRIVETRAIN

The new FPV GS sedan is now a permanent part of the range, upgraded from the special-edition status from last year.  The Ute kicks off the GS range at $51,990 and the sedan is priced from $56,990 (both with no-cost option autos), up from $49,950 and $54,950 respectively when it was released in August last year.

The GT starts from $71,290 (up from $67,890), with a six-speed manual or a no-cost option six-speed automatic - FPV says it's a six per cent increase in power for a four per cent increase in price.

The GT-P has risen from $78,740 to be priced from $80,990 (with either manual or auto) and the auto-only GT E is $81,450, up from $79,740.

TECHNOLOGY

The new supercharged V8 was developed by FPV parent company Prodrive for $40 million, based on the Mustang's Coyote V8 - an all-aluminium double overhead cam 32-valve powerplant, with an Eaton supercharger massaged by Harrop.  FPV says it is imported from the US and then hand-assembled using plenty of local bits, but is 47kg lighter than the outgoing 5.4-litre V8.

The GS version produces 315kW and 545Nm - up from 302kW and 551Nm - but FPV says it is smoother, faster and more efficient.  The GT variant now produces 335kW and 570Nm - increases of 20kW and 19Nm - and all new supercharged V8 engines in the sedans exhale through a quad-pipe bi-modal exhaust system which FPV says enhances performance and the exhaust note.

Prodrive Asia-Pacific managing director Bryan Mears says the new supercharged V8 GT is a "cracker of a car" and the engine program represents Prodrive’s biggest-ever investment in the Australian market.  "It's been the most extensive and exhaustive development program we’ve ever undertaken.

"We took the engine from North America but it's been developed Australians - a large amount of the component is Australian-developed and supplied and we're proud of that," Mr Mears says.

DESIGN

Don't expect massive changes to the look of the FPV flagship range, or the GS for that matter - FPV has spent their cash on under-skin changes to the area it sees as most important - the drivetrain.

The new GT and GT-P get new stripes and a change to the Boss number on the bonnet to 335 - or 315 for the GS, which gets new bonnet stripes as well.

DRIVE

There might not be a big change to the styling but the drivetrain changes have put the Ford Performance Vehicles right back in the fight.  A short jaunt in the GS automatic sedan offers a surprisingly refined journey - there's no doubt there's a V8 with a supercharger doing the work but it's not coarse.

The surge in-gear or from standstill is strong makes the gearbox work hard to retain shift smoothness, but it manages reasonably well.  The ride is firm but has some small amount of compliance to prevent it crashing from bump to bump; the already-good steering has benefitted from the 30-soemething kilogram weight reduction in the nose and it points with reasonable accuracy, although some time on more familiar roads will be telling.

Stepping into the GT-P manual and the extra horses are immediately apparent - the aural impact of the supercharger (and the changes to the firing order) and other tweaks have given the new range-topping supercharged V8 a great note that matches the mumbo on offer.

The manual gearshift is crisp but requires plenty of muscle to get it home properly - most will probably opt for the intuitive ZF six-speed automatic model if they're going to drive it day-to-day, but on the right road the manual is a rewarding challenge for those behind the wheel.  It demands to be driven and that's a good thing if you're buying a musclecar.

A brief drive in the GS Ute (with an automatic transmission) showed that it makes good use of the extra grunt of the supercharged V8, being lively under acceleration although it's not as composed as the sedan - which is unsurprising.

The final piece in the puzzle is the exec-express GT E, which gets a lip spoiler indicative of a little more subtlety elsewhere, although there's nothing subtle about the rate at which it can cover ground when asked.

VERDICT

FPV and HSV might well say they are not engaged in a horsepower war - at the very least it is a vigorous police action - but the Ford troops are wading back into battle armed with a first-rate drivetrain that will give the other brand more food for thought than they would like.

FPV GS/GT

Price: from $51,990 (GS Ute); from $71,290 (GT sedan).

Engine: five-litre supercharged DOHC 32-valve aluminium V8.Transmission: six-speed manual or automatic, rear-wheel drive with limited slip differential.Power: 315kW; 335kW.
Weight: GS 1833-1861-kg; GT 1855-1870kgTorque: 545Nm; 570Nm.
Fuel consumption: GS 13.6-14.2 l/100km, GT 13.6-13.7, tank 68 litres (Ute - 75).
Emissions: GS 324-335g/km; GT 324-325g/km.
Suspension: independent double wishbones (front); independent control blade (rear).
Brakes: four-wheel cross drilled and ventilated discs, (GT Brembo 4-piston front and single-piston rear calipers; GT-P/GT E 6-piston front/4-piston rear), with anti-lock and stability control systems.
Dimensions: length 4970mm (Ute 5096), width 1868mm (Ute 1934), height 1453mm, wheelbase 2838mm (Ute 3104), track fr/rr 1583/1598mm (Ute 1583), cargo volume 535 litres.
Wheels: 19in alloys.

RIVAL

HSV E3, from $64,600.

Pricing Guides

$39,994
Based on 7 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$36,990
Highest Price
$43,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 5.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $36,990 – 43,888 2010 FPV GT 2010 (base) Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$29,888

Lowest price, based on 8 car listings in the last 6 months

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