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Steane Klose | Feb 17, 2009 | 11 Comments

You’re meant to give wood, not get wood, on your 5th Anniversary. Oops...

To celebrate its 5th year in the hi-po Ford building business, FPV has turned the temperature up a notch on a limited run of GTs.

And we rather like the result.

In fact, shortly after picking up our test car, a roadside vote was called and we unanimously agreed that this particular version of the GT is the most horn looking Aussie performance sedan ever, bar none.

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Available in Lightning Strike or Silhouette (Black) with a unique 5th Anniversary striping package, the 5th Anniversary also features a 5th Anniversary decal on the boot-lid, its own exclusive 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels and a set of premium Brembo brakes, with six-piston callipers up front and four-piston callipers out back. You can choose from a six-speed manual or the excellent ZF six-speed auto fitted to our test car.

FPV has chosen to leave the 5.4-litre Boss unmolested, so like the GT and GT-P there is 315kW and 551Nm on tap. Inside, FPV has finished its traditional sports seats in Nudo Leather and embossed the front headrests with a 5th Anniversary logo. There is also an exclusive build badge number mounted on the centre console and 5th Anniversary floor mats.

5th-anniversary-badgePhoto courtesy FPV

Of course, there are the regular GT luxury inclusions such as dual-zone temperature-control air-conditioning, a sports leather steering wheel with mounted cruise-control switches, power front and rear windows, alloy pedal covers and a premium audio system with six-disc in-dash CD with iPod integration.

FPV has told us that 5th Anniversary buyers are receiving over $9600 worth of additional features for a premium of $5300 over the RRP of the regular GT, along with a healthy dose of limited edition FPV exclusivity. The smart buyer will also note that, like the GT-P, the 5th Anniversary GT runs the six-piston Brembo brake package, yet retails for $4,000 less...

It is also a lot more exclusive, with only 200 examples to be built.

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The end result is an Aussie performance sedan that oozes character. It’s in-ya-face in a tastefully subdued way. Just enough power bulge, just enough black striping, just enough Euro about the alloys and just the right amount of machismo.

Around Town

The GT, in fact the entire FG Falcon range, offers excellent driver and passenger accommodation in the tradition of big Aussie sedans.

meter-cluster_01Photo courtesy FPV

Ford has put a lot of work into making the driver feel like they are sitting ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ the FG Falcon. Raised armrests and centre console, along with a revised windscreen angle being just some of the changes made. There are however two oddities, an instrument panel that appears to be unusually narrow, able only to accommodate relatively small (and cut-off) circular instruments, along with a steering column that is limited in height adjustment for taller drivers.

Firing up the Boss involves turning the ignition key and tapping the red starter button. It’s a two part process that’s more theatre than function. The extra ‘action’ is rewarded with the distinctive throb of FPV’s hand-built small block as it settles into a gentle rumbling idle that rocks the GT ever-so-slightly.

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Around town, the GT is a pleasantly docile drive that offers typical big V8, relaxed, unruffled ‘just brush the throttle’ driving. There is no doubt that this car will handle the daily commute with aplomb.

We were more interested in showing the GT a long stretch of bitumen and some winding mountain roads, and for those we headed up the Hume then east to Jamieson.


On The Open Road

It is on the open road that the GT is in its element. Frankly, there are few better cars than our home-grown V8 performance sedans when it comes to effortlessly loping along a country road. Thanks to its ongoing development program, the long-stroke 5.4-litre Boss V8 is happier to rev than at any time in its past. The useable revs ceiling has been increased from 6,000rpm to 6,500rpm, in addition to a slightly higher compression ratio, revised camshaft timing, higher-lift cam profiles as well as improvements to air flow and volumetric efficiency. This explains the increase in power from 290kW to 315kW.

engine-bay_02

The result is a crisper, smoother response to throttle inputs. It’s also quicker than before, although it’s hard to pick from behind the wheel - the extra urgency is largely masked by the Boss’s improved manners. You do need some revs on board to get the best out of the Boss however. From idle, there is less torque available than you might expect from a big V8, but it’s a momentary concern, cured with a flex of the right foot.

The GT is quiet on the road, with only minimal tyre roar reaching the cabin, and surprisingly, even the Boss’s exhaust note is subdued, a fact that bothered more than one TMR tester. However, it’s not all bad news. Sink the boot in, keep the revs up and the Boss will reward you with a sonorous V8 bellow that fills the cabin. Oddly, for those standing on the side of the road it sounds less inspiring, even full throttle drive-bys sound better inside the GT than out.

Adding to the GT experience is its particularly decent on-road manners. The GT’s new virtual pivot front-end, revised multi-link rear and Sachs monotube dampers provide a ride that is almost plush.

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Well-tuned monotube dampers can transform a car, and the GT is no exception. FPV has settled on some particularly effective damper settings, endowing the GT with a ride that is supple yet nicely-controlled in the vast majority of situations. Despite running 19-inch wheels and low profile Dunlop Sport Maxx rubber, the only time the suspension was ruffled was when trundling around at low speed on patchy suburban bitumen. For the greater part of our time behind the wheel there was little to find fault with.

An hour out of Melbourne along the Hume saw the outside temperature begin to rise rapidly and eventually settle on 46 degrees as we turned off the main drag and headed into Benalla to fuel-up. It was hellishly hot and a long way from being an ideal day to be road testing a car.

Fuelled up, we headed east, stopping for a brief and somewhat heat-soaked photo session around Lake Nillahcootie, before heading through to the township of Jamieson in the foothills of the ranges. Taking advice from the local garage owner, FPV and Ford enthusiast Scotty, we headed up to a quiet section of blacktop that wound its way up into the ranges and let the GT off the leash.

Through The Hills

For a car that weighs in at a portly 1852 kg, the GT is more than capable of carving up the corners, but it’s not without its quirks. That big cast-iron block Boss, sitting high in the engine bay, subtly dominates the way the GT goes about its business.

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FPV’s suspension tuners have largely tamed the beast, but you can still sense the weight giving those Sachs dampers a good work out. Turn-in is superb, steering feel predictable and while it’s not razor sharp, it allows you to point the GT cleanly and accurately.

The big Brembos (six-pots up front on the 5th Anniversary remember) are unbreakable. They are well up to the task of hauling up the GT, but you do need to be decisive and smooth. You can unsettle things if you brake too early and have to lift off then on again. Do this, and the momentum shift and the weight of that Boss V8 in the nose can have the front end wallowing a little. Get the braking and the apex nailed, and the GT rewards with predictable power-on driving.

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When pressing on, from the wheel you will notice that there is some body roll evident as a side effect of the compliant suspension tune. We found the best way to hustle the GT was by settling it hard into a corner and managing the power delivery on the way through. Get it right and you can give it a shoe-full on exit – for a large car, the GT is commendably well-balanced.

The GT comes with one of the better rear ends in the business and there is plenty of feedback on what the rear rubber is doing. Mid-corner bumps are dispatched with ease, but you’ll hear those big wheels belting into holes or patches of broken black-top.

With 315kW of Boss on-board, it could be argued that the 245/35 rear tyres are too narrow to provide the ideal amount of grip. Punt the GT hard, and on occasions you’ll sense the ESP kicking in, but it won’t necessarily spoil the fun. It’s a well sorted system that goes about its business largely unobtrusively, allowing a good driver to maintain the GT’s balance and momentum.

In short, if the driver desires it, the GT can be ferociously fast. You won't pass too many cars in a day's driving that the GT won't show a clean pair of heels to.

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The Verdict

There is plenty to like about the FPV GT. It's a fast, comfortable and relaxed highway hauler, with a bruising athleticism brooding just below the surface. It also possesses the balance to thoroughly entertain on a winding mountain pass.

Thanks to a combination of effortless V8 power and the happy medium that FPV has struck with the suspension tuning, it is a genuine Gran Turismo through and through. The 5.4 Boss is at the top of its game and the ZF six-speed auto is difficult to fault. Even the fuel consumption was surprisingly reasonable, averaging 13.2 L/100 across a week-long mix of country and city driving that included our requisite performance testing.

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But honestly, in 5th Anniversary guise, you could be forgiven for buying the GT just on looks alone. Unlike the ferocious but fabulous kidney-punching Ford GTs of a generation or more ago, the FPV GT is pure class.

It may not be the quickest, or dynamically the most hard-edged of Australia’s performance sedans, but it is the coolest Aussie Gran Turismo out there.

The Last Word

If you’re shopping for some Aussie V8 performance, prefer wine to beer, a good steak to pizza, and white rimmed sunnies aren’t really your thing, then the limited edition 5th Anniversary GT is where your search will likely end. Like the hot girls at school, everyone who sees it will want one, there just aren’t enough to go ‘round.

Likes

  • Stylish good looks
  • Impeccable highway manners
  • Well sorted GT ride
  • More grunt from the Boss for FG FPV’s
  • Predictable, capable handling
  • Outstanding brakes
  • Added Limited Edition value and collectability

Dislikes

  • ‘Skinny’ instrument cluster
  • Lack of steering wheel height adjustment

Gallery

Specifications

Engine: 5.4 litre V8
Type: Boss 315 - high performance quad-cam 32 valve V8
Displacement: 5400cc
Bore x stroke: 90.2 x 105.8mm
Compression ratio: 11:01
Maximum power: Maximum power (DIN) - 315kW @ 6500rpm
Maximum torque: Maximum torque (DIN) - 551Nm @ 4750rpm
Performance: N/A
Max. Speed: N/A
Transmission: • ZF 6-speed high-torque automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift (NCO) • TR6060 6-speed Manual with leather and satin chrome gear knob
Suspension: Front: FPV Performance independent double wishbone front suspension Rear: Performance Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS)
Brakes: Front: 355 x 32mm cross drilled and ventilated front rotors with Brembo 6 piston calipers Rear: 330 x 28mm cross drilled and ventilated rear rotors with Brembo 4 piston calipers
Steering: Rack and Pinion - Power assisted
Wheels: Front: FPV 19" multi spoke Alloy wheel fitted with 245/35ZR19 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres Rear: FPV 19" multi spoke Alloy wheel fitted with 245/35ZR19 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre
Kerb Weight: 1852 kg
Safety / Security: • Driver airbag with dual stage inflator (ARS) • Passenger airbag with single stage inflator • Curtain airbags plus front seat side thorax airbags • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) • Traction Control System (TCS) • 4-channel Anti lock Braking System (ABS) • Reverse sensing system • Reverse parking camera • Remote keyless entry - door lock/unlock and boot release • FPV ID Datadot identification • Alarm
Fuel consumption: 14.2 L/100km – manual 14 L/100km - automatic
Price: $71,890
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