FPV GT Cobra 2008 Review
March 31, 2008
$52,140 - $59,950
The appeal goes across both genders and a broad range of ages - from those who were old enough to vaguely remember the paint scheme on Falcon coupes at Bathurst to those who only know Mount Panorama from PS2 or 3.
Unfortunately for those who look, like and lay down hard-earned dollars, there aren't any left to buy direct from the manufacturer. Just 400 sedans and 100 ute versions of the Cobra were made so head for eBay or carsguide classifieds.
To use its full title, I'm piloting an FPV GT Cobra R-Spec - the six-speed auto sedan with an upgraded brake package, and it causes public mischief even before the start button is pushed.
Once it fires, the 5.4-litre quad-cam, 32-valve “Boss 302” power plant settles into a burbly idle that still has the odd lump in it, although nothing like the chassis-shaking attitude of some previous Ford muscle-cars.
The clever, smooth and driver-friendly six-speed auto works well with the eight, allowing unruffled progress through traffic on a useful amount of torque, although its down a little on pulling power when compared to its HSV competition. The ride quality is better than expected for 35-profile tyres on 19in alloys, although big road ruts do hit home.
Firing away from the lights at full throttle is not recommended unless you want to challenge new hoon laws, as the rears can offer a noisy and smoky departure.
Save that sort of throttle application for windy backroads, where the chassis shows off poise and grip that belies its size.
That's not to say there's no shortage of action, as the Cobra fires out of corners with enthusiasm, thanks in part to its limited slip differential and (switchable) traction control, although there's no stability control on offer.
Bumps and lumps mid-corner don't bother the Cobra too much, with decent compliance helping to maintain the chosen line.
The R Spec handling package is standard on the Cobra, with sticky Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 245/35ZR tyres on 19in five-spoke alloys.
The rims even get white-painted sections to the spokes, which are an interesting highlight and probably also a magnet for brake-pad dust.
This is going to be built up on a regular basis, as the Cobra is a fun drive.
The soundtrack provided by the big V8 in its upper rev reaches borders on indecent and there is ample ability from the chassis to keep the pace going.
Of course, you're going to have to pay the piper sometime for all that amusement.
The 68-litre tank supplies PULP to the engine at a claimed rate of around 15 litres/100km in the standard GT, but the extra performance isn't likely to have reduced that thirst.
The trip computer quickly shot up to an average of well over 20 litres/100km, but as the driving became more sedate, the number tumbled back to 18 litres/100km.
That's the price you pay for a great soundtrack.
The chunky, grippy leather-wrapped steering wheel is a nice unit and the big Falcon responds to corners with vigour, with well-controlled body roll and plenty of grip.
The Cobra features list includes dual-zone climate control, which was tested to its limits by the recent 40C heat, but it managed to keep the interior cool.
The seating is comfortable and has half-decent lateral support, but the bug-bear that has haunted the Falcon for more than a few years is the high-seating position, something that seems to have been fixed in the FG.
It is a shame the current Ford Falcon could well be remembered mainly for its falling sales volume.
It is a well-mannered, capable and decent family sedan, which when tweaked to near its limits can become a desirable, rapid and entertaining machine.
The Cobra looks will see them quickly snapped up on the used market and given it has more go faster bits than some of the previous Cobra “specials” there's good reason to grab one.
FPV GT COBRA R-Spec
Engine: 5.4-litre 32-valve V8.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or automatic.
Power: 302kW at 6000rpm.
Torque: 540Nm at 4750rpm.
Fuel consumption: 15 litres/100km (claimed), on test 20 litres/100km, tank capacity 68 litres.
Suspension: Independent double wishbone, coil spring/damper units, jointed mount anti-roll bar (front). Performance Control Blade, independent coil springs, jointed mount anti-roll bar (rear).
Brakes: 355x32mm cross-drilled and slotted discs, Brembo six-piston calipers (front). 330x28mm cross-drilled discs with Brembo four-piston calipers (rear).
Dimensions: Length 4944mm, width 1864mm, height 1435mm, wheelbase 2829mm, track fr/rr 1553/1586mm, cargo volume 504 litres, weight 1855kg.
Wheels: 19in alloys.
$52,140 - $59,950