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Steane Klose | Jun 5, 2009 | 25 Comments

IN A COUNTRY OBSESSED with V8 performance cars, you might think that a car like the F6, with its blown six, would have a hard time establishing its credentials.

Sure, FPV still sells a lot more V8s than they do sixes and HSV doesn’t even bother to go there. But being a volume seller in the muscle sedan category isn’t a true measure of the F6’s success.

The real measure is respect.

If there was a Fight Club for cars, the F6 would be the darkly brooding contender, waiting in the shadows for the competition to get serious. The one that all the competitors fear most.

Legend has it that the F6 will out-run the fancy V8s and that even more power is just a cheeky tweak away. School kids stare in awe, middle-aged men admire, but most telling of all, V8 drivers avoid eye contact.

It’s a bona fide urban myth in the metal.

 

Styling

There is no going past the Dash Green of our test vehicle. This particular F6 didn’t attract attention, it demanded it.

Hunkered down over a set of optional graphite 19-inch wheels, the chiseled F6 looks menacing.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

There are no flared guards, no bonnet scoops or bulges, no overt body kit. The F6 doesn’t need the Tupperware to look tough.

To further accentuate that ‘minimalist toughness’, FPV has removed the grille on the lower air intake, putting the beefed up intercooler on display. Not great for stone protection on the open road, but raunchy nonetheless.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

FPV badges take pride of place on both the front grille and rear bootlid, with unique F6 310 badges positioned on the sides and rear of the vehicle.

New graphite headlight accents now match the standard 19 inch machine faced alloy wheels with Graphite accents, and the optional F6 Graphite wheel as fitted to the car we drove.

Sure, there has been plenty of online debate concerning the FG’s styling. Some appreciate the clean, sharp and almost minimalist look (that has some competitors looking like cartoon characters), while others simply don’t think it has evolved enough from the BF.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

We like it, especially in F6 and GT guise.

 

Mechanical Package

The F6 is all about that syrupy smooth, boosted 4.0-litre straight six.

The 4.0 litre turbo-charged DOHC 24 valve in-line six now produces maximum power of 310kW at 5500 rpm, and maximum torque of 565Nm across the range from 1950 to 5200 rpm. That’s enough to have FPV claiming (and it’s not hard to believe) that the F6 sedan is one of the best performing six-cylinder vehicles on the Australian market.

It’s also a 40kW and 15Nm increase over the previous BF model.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

To achieve such a significant increase, FPV’s engineers strengthened the piston and conrod design, dropped the compression ratio (from 8.7.1 to 8.5.1), re-profiled the camshafts, fitted a larger intercooler and improved turbo, recalibrated the engine management and turned up the boost to 0.91 bar (13.3 psi).

A new intake system has improved airflow from the air intake to the engine head inlet. The result is not only more power but much improved driveability.

FPV says you can expect to achieve an average of 12.1L/100km for the ZF auto-equipped F6 (12.3L/100km for the six speed manual).

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Our average over the course of the week that the F6 was in our care was 14.8 L/100km, but we expect that ‘normal’ driving will result in a significant improvement to the figure.

The F6 buyer has a choice of the either the ‘performance’ TR6060 six-speed manual transmission (replaces the BF’s T56) or the excellent ZF six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift at no extra cost (yes, you read that correctly).

The auto has a cylinder cut feature during wide-open throttle gear changes, which shortens the torque off, torque-back-on time between gear changes. In-gear acceleration is best described as brutal.

Power aside, one of the defining features of the F6 on test, was its ability to stop… quickly.

Braking duties in standard form are handled by the premium FPV Brembo performance brake package, which features 335x32mm front rotors with four-piston calipers and 328x26mm rear rotors with single-piston calipers.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Our test car on the other hand was fitted with the excellent optional Brembo brake package which includes larger 355 x 32mm cross drilled and ventilated front rotors with 6 piston calipers up front and 330 x 28mm cross drilled and ventilated rear rotors with 4 piston calipers in the rear.

Underneath the F6 are the same ZF Sachs dampers that are standard on the XR6T, however FPV has recalibrated the valving and revised the XR6T’s spring rates to offer what it says is a performance suspension system that suits both road and track driving.

For those concerned about the reliability of previous turbo-charged FPVs, then it will be comforting to know that the FG F6 has seen more than 23,000 hours spent in design and validation, with durability testing and calibration conducted across Australia and track testing performed at Winton Raceway in regional Victoria.


 

Interior & Equipment

Inside the F6, the FG Falcon roots are obvious, however some nice detail touches remind the driver that this is no ordinary Falcon. In fact, it’s not really a Falcon at all.

In a charcoal-dominated environment, our test car featured the optional ‘Technique Leather’ sports seats, the standard sports seats being a combination of Technique cloth with ‘suede-feel’ bolsters and silver stitching.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

While perfectly comfortable, they are built with ‘wide’ Aussies in mind and perhaps don’t provide enough lateral support.

An attractive ‘optical check accent’ trim is a feature across the dashboard and doors. There are also the usual FPV extras: leather-bound steering wheel, FPV starter button, individual build number and blue illumination instrument cluster with unique FPV graphics, helping to set the F6 apart from the XR6T.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

As you would expect (given the price), the interior features a premium kit including steering wheel mounted cruise control and audio switches, dual-zone temperature control air-conditioning, front and rear power windows and alloy pedal covers.

Our test car was also fitted with the optional (on auto equipped cars only) adjustable pedal box, making achieving the perfect driving position extremely easy.

A roomy and comfortable place to spend some time, the F6 is also more than capable of swallowing a family-sized load of luggage. The boot space is massive, a point noted by our photographer whose equipment usually fills a boot and a back seat.

fpv-f6_boot_2

Safety Features

Unbelievably (and thankfully) for the first time, the F6 is equipped with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and side curtain-airbags, both of which are now standard across the entire FPV range.

Other safety features include Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), and four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), driver and passenger airbags, and Beltminder technology for the driver.

Keeping thieves at bay is a remote alarm and FPV’s ID Datadot identification.

 

The Drive

At TMR we’ve recently driven the FPV 5th Anniversary GT and HSV’s Clubsport R8, both highly capable, powerful and FAST Aussie performance sedans, so this was always going to be an interesting test drive.

It’s easy to get comfortable in the F6. In my case (I’m 6ft tall) drop the seat, move the steering wheel up to its maximum height position, drop your wrists over the wheel to get the right distance and then adjust the pedal box to suit: perfect.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Turn the key, hit the starter and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how smooth the 4.0-litre inline six is. Out on the road, it’ll take a few kilometers to adjust to the brake feel. There is plenty of pedal feel but those big Brembos are keen to reveal their might and you find yourself backing off the pedal pressure earlier than normal, in order to stop smoothly.

You can however, be guaranteed that stopping will never be a problem. Once you have adjusted to their feel, the big Brembo brake package does nothing but inspire confidence. We didn’t try them on a track but suspect plenty of new owners will and they will not be disappointed.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Our time with the F6 included a run from Melbourne central out to the Dandenongs, a round trip that provided a mix of winding roads and straight freeway miles, a combination that revealed just what a Jekyll and Hyde the F6 is.

You can amble along in 60 zones, cruise at 100km/h on the freeway and gently nudge your way through the tourist traffic in the Dandenongs and frankly never realise the potential of the car you are driving. In fact you’ll find yourself prodding the accelerator just to check that all is still as it should be.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

There is no real exhaust note, no grumbling V8 gently rocking the car, nothing aside from a faint turbo whine at low rpm to even hint at this car’s potential.

If you want to really get to know the F6, you’ll need to find the right stretch of road and grab it by the scruff of the neck.

Bumping the shifter into sports mode is the first step, allowing that trick ZF gearbox to get serious. It will hold revs longer, find the perfect gear for corners and constantly adjust as it ‘learns’ your driving style.


2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Acceleration from a standing start is phenomenal. Like a jet, the turbo relentlessly builds boost between gears, topping out a little north of 6,000rpm.

Your senses cop a pounding. The turbo whines, the waste-gate flutters as it dumps excess boost on gear changes, the induction roar is glorious and you very rapidly find the legal limit.

What really impresses is the F6’s mid-range punch. Forget those big capacity V8 competitors because nothing that we have driven can match the F6’s ability once on the move (or even from a standstill for that matter).

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Bump the shifter across to sports mode, nail the throttle and the effect is instant and vicious as the ZF drops down a couple of gears, dropping the big six right into its torque-laden sweet spot.

Where the FPV GT feels like a brawny grand tourer, the F6 feels nimble and lithe.

That ‘feel’ is largely because the F6’s powerplant is lighter and sits lower in the engine bay than the GT’s. As a result, the F6’s front dampers have an easier life than those in the GT and the handling is better balanced.

For a big sedan, the F6 inspires confidence when cornering with excellent turn-in, minimal body-roll and good feel through the wheel. Like all of our big Aussie performance sedans, the F6’s chassis is no technological tour-de-force, but it is certainly highly effective.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

For the majority of driving situations, the F6 displays a composed ride and predictable handling, only rail crossings and patchy bitumen will ruffle its feathers and send a little unwanted feedback to the driver through the wheel: but just enough to remind you that this is a performance sedan first and foremost.

That’s the refined Dr Jekyll in the F6 equation.

In true F6 tradition, Mr Hyde though is never far away and he demands your full attention.

The F6 is perfectly capable of scaring the pants off a ham-fisted or clog-footed driver. While it is substantially better to drive than its less well-sorted predecessors (overall a smoother and more predictable power delivery), it can be thoroughly brutal in the way it delivers that truck-load of torque… a quality that will appeal to some, and intimidate others.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Get this beast on boost mid-corner and there is potential for disaster, that’s just ‘physics 101’ when you have 565Nm arriving at the rear wheels in a rush. That mighty boosted six can and does carry a whip hand to the rear rubber and stability control systems, especially in the wet.

For the inexperienced who fail to exercise restraint, piloting the F6 can be a white knuckled ride.

 

The Verdict

Urban myth, a Jekyll and Hyde, a legend in the making, the F6 is all of those and more.

On the one hand, it is capable of lulling you into a perfectly comfortable sense of security on the daily commute. It can even have you questioning your $65k spend.

On the other hand, a rush of adrenalin, excitement and even fear are just a flex of the right foot away.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Is it better than a GT or R8? Well that depends on how you like your power delivered. It is dynamically superior to the FPV GT, on par with the Clubsport R8 and faster than both.

For some, bragging rights will be enough and the F6 will be their only choice. They’ll most likely be full-time family men and part-time adrenalin junkies.

Cashed up younger men will ‘understand’ the F6, they’ll appreciate its street cred and most likely have been brought up on a diet of turbo-charged Japanese grey imports.

The F6 will be their only choice of Australian performance sedan in this price bracket, a V8 would just be too old fashioned.

2009 Ford FPV F6 Photo Shoot

Then there are the ‘over 40’s’. Brought up on a diet of Aussie V8s, there will be some who will buy it simply because having the hottest ride in town is important in itself. Others will be content to respect it from a distance, safe behind the wheel of their ‘slower’ GT or R8.

Out on the road, they’ll give the F6 a wide berth, because with age comes wisdom.

In a few years, the straight-six powered F6 is to be consigned to history. Take a walk on the wild side and grab one while you still can.

 

Likes

  • Cool streetfighter looks
  • Brilliant drivetrain
  • Big torque
  • Brutal performance
  • Highly effective (optional) brake package
  • Refined and capable handling
  • Adjustable pedal box (optional in auto only)
 

Dislikes

  • Can feel like a Falcon in everyday driving

[Photography by Joel Strickland]

Get the best deal on this car!
Get a great deal from our national accredited supply network. Fill in the form or call 1300 438 639
 
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