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FPV GT-P 2005 review

Although, don't be surprised if it makes a song and dance about having a couple of extra ratios in hand without needing to operate a clutch pedal.

The BF FPV range is now blessed with the six-speed automatic transmission and has mated it nicely to the two powerplants in its range, the 5.4-litre V8 and turbo six.

We're getting to know the range-topping sedan, the V8 six-speed auto GT-P, with plenty of grunt and a full load of equipment.

The heart of the matter is a 5.4-litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 that produces one of the most delicious V8 burbles delivered by a road-going vehicle.

The silken, creamy V8 rumble turns into a sensational wail without hesitation, with the new top end of the Ford bent-eight helping it to breathe deeply and deliver.

When driven in isolation – without the awesome 550Nm of the Ford Typhoon to put it to shame – the V8's 520Nm of torque gives the GT-P an easy gait and pulls high gears up long inclines without fuss. But the peak of 4500rpm doesn't help it deliver the low-down shove of the 550Nm Typhoon or the HSV LS2's 530Nm.

What the GT-P does do is put the outputs to good use with the new automatic transmission. While the manual and auto gearboxes in both the old Ford and current Holden V8 products are far from slick to use, this auto delivers the best of both worlds – so much so that this committed manual gearbox fan would be opting for the $1250 six-speeder behind either FPV powerplant.

In "D", it's a smooth, quick-changing transmission that makes the best use of the outputs, with a flick to the left upping the ante and bringing PERF (performance) up on the gear-indicator LCD display.

That doesn't degrade the shift quality but it does make the shift pattern markedly more aggressive, changing down under braking and holding gears longer as required.

Manual shifts are performed in the direction of the inertia of the vehicle – down-changes are performed by pushing the lever forward (the weight-shift direction under brakes) with the upshifts complete by pulling back (under acceleration), the right direction.

Changing gears in the manual mode won't be overridden by the gearbox unless the throttle is pushed through the detente at the end of its travel – Ford has deemed this an emergency override feature.

The ability to hold gearshifts and not be overridden prevents unsettling upshifts mid-corner, something BMW, Mercedes-Benz and a few others should realise.

For a car that weighs 1855kg, the GT-P is light on its feet. It still feels a little heavy in some of the tighter corners, but bowling along a windy, flowing country road has the GT-P in its element.

It stops sharply again and again, thanks to the big Brembo calipers and ventilated discs, turning in crisply without too much body roll and faithfully following the instructed line.

Grip is considerable and the rear end (with the traction control switched off) is difficult (but not impossible) to shake loose.

It can cruise comfortably as well, with a decent ride quality, but it's far more enjoyable with the V8's hackles up.

The cabin trim may not be to all tastes but it is a comfortable interior for occupants, with drivers below 180cm tall able to use the electrically adjustable seats, the reach'n'rake adjustable steering and the adjustable pedals to get comfortable. At 191cm, I adopted a stooped driving posture, which was required to get decent forward vision – the seats are mounted too high, due to the extra electric seat motors. If you're tall, spend less and option up a GT.

The extroverts can spend $595 for orange stripes, combining with the "Menace" purple paintwork to great effect. The high-quality premium sound system – complete with subwoofer – also makes sure the GT-P is noticed, being louder than the paintwork and stripes The only niggles were the optional satellite navigation system that sporadically wouldn't read the mapping DVD and the lack of a footrest for the left foot.

Committed V8 fans will happily forgo the Typhoon's torque for the sake of the power bulge in the bonnet and the burble beneath it – and it's easy to see why – but I'd be opting for two fewer cylinders and a turbo.

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Range and Specs

(base) 5.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $13,000 – 18,810 2005 FPV GT-P 2005 (base) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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