FPV GT AND GS REVIEW
For the first time in its history, FPV doesn't have a naturally-aspirated powerplant in its entire line-up.
The old 5.4-litre Boss V8 has been retired in favour of the all-new supercharged 'Miami' V8, based on the Mustang's Coyote 5.0 litre V8. It's this engine which now powers the GS, GT, GT E and GT-P.
It's also the most powerful motor in the company's history, with all GT variants enjoying a hairy-chested 335kW output. Even the 'lowly' GS boasts a 315kW output – the same as the old 5.4-powered GT.
In a departure from its usual policy, FPV has also released its own 0-100km/h times for each model. The manual GT dispatching the mark in a claimed time of just 4.9 seconds; the GS hitting triple digits in 5.2 seconds.
To mark the arrival of its new powertrain, FPV invited Australia's motoring media to Melbourne to get their first taste of the new supercharged bent-eight.
The range officially goes on sale on October 25, but you may want to head down to your local FPV dealer a little earlier. If our first drive experience is anything to go by, FPV's new family of V8s will sell like hotcakes.
Externally, there's not a lot that differentiates the 2011 cars from the superseded model.
There's a new “hockey stick” stripe package on the GT and GT-P as well as a distinctive quad exhaust package and new 19-inch alloy wheels, but the sheetmetal, bumpers and interior carry over.
That's not a bad thing. The FG-based FPV sedans still look modern, distinctive and sporty.
Drivers will instead feel the most difference from behind the steering wheel. Punch the starter button and a familiar V8 rumble is evident, but give the throttle a firm prod and the unmistakeable whine of a supercharger buzzes through the firewall.
There's also a satisfying exhaust crackle on the overrun, giving the new V8 a very pleasing aural signature.
Where the old 5.4 was a little lethargic down low, the supercharged 5.0 is keen and alert. Thanks to the Harrop supercharger, peak torque arrives at 2200rpm and is on tap all the way to 5400rpm.
The power curve is exceptionally linear too, and throttle response is near-instant.
That translates into a substantial shove in the back under acceleration, and the surge in power continues right up until 5500rpm, just shy of the 6000rpm redline.
While we couldn't replicate FPV's claimed 0-100km/h figures during the launch, the GT certainly felt as fast – if not faster – than FPV's own F6.
The Boss 335 and Boss 315 are both extraordinarily tractable engines at low rpm. The GT, GT-P and GT-E develop a substantial 570Nm of torque, with the GS producing 545Nm.
In normal suburban driving the manual-equipped cars can make use of much taller gears than the old 5.4, and the optional six-speed automatic is very smooth and refined.
Clutch effort is beautifully light thanks to a new twin-plate clutch, which happens to be shared with such hi-po machinery as the Dodge Viper and Corvette ZR-1.
The shifter of the Tremec TR 6060 manual transmission has a slightly rubbery feel, but the gate is clearly defined and the throw not too long.
In our opinion the manual is preferable to the automatic, if only for the auto's propensity to 'drag' the engine up to speed on downshifts.
The six-speed ZF-sourced auto is definitely the better transmission for straight-line acceleration though.
The rest of the driveline has come in for some detail changes; the most noticeable is a recalibration of the traction control and ESP software.
With 20 extra kilowatts and a monstrous torque curve, the GT pours buckets of grunt into the rear wheels, and with tyre sizes and compounds remaining the same as the last GT (245/35R19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx), the 2011 model breaks traction all too willingly.
When it intervenes, the traction control doesn't shut the party down entirely, but it does hamper acceleration. Finding the sweet spot for both throttle and clutch will clearly take some practice.
Suspension hardware hasn't come in for many changes, with only minor revisions to account for the all-alloy 5.0 V8's lower overall weight (it's some 40kg lighter than the old 5.4). Suspension specs are shared between GS and GT.
However, because of the reduction in engine mass, both the GT and GS feel less nose-heavy and a little more nimble as a result.
That said, there is still a lot of mass up front and a lot of car behind it. But while neither model feels quite at home being muscled through tight hairpins, Ford's double wishbone suspension provides good road feel with well-controlled balance. The handling of the V8 models is now about on par with the F6.
Brake performance in the GT, GT-P and GT-E is excellent thanks to the big Brembo brake package, with a strong pedal and no evidence of fade on a spirited downhill blast.
Unfortunately, the GS makes do with the old XR8's sliding calipers, which have less bite and don't inspire as much confidence as the Brembos of its bigger brothers.
Thankfully a Brembo brake package is available as an option on the GS, however it costs a sizable $4000.
Our First Drive Verdict
By FPV's own reckoning, the search for a new engine for its V8 range has cost in the region of $35 million. In our opinion, it's money well spent.
The new engines, whether in 315kW trim or with a full-blooded 335kW, are brilliant. From the sound that's emitted from the tailpipes to the superb linearity of its power delivery, the new Boss engine ticks all the right boxes.
The GS may be the low-output variant, but with 315kW and 545Nm it's not too far from HSV's own entry-level sports sedan, the 317kW Clubsport R8.
More importantly, the GS only costs $56,990 in sedan form, making it a bona-fide bargain compared to the $69,600 R8.
It's a similar story with the GT, which retails for $71,290 and comprehensively bests the $82,900 HSV GTS for power, torque and price.
Even the up-spec GT-P retails for slightly less at $80,990. And, even better, the automatic transmission is a no-cost option across the range.
Not only are FPV's new range of V8-powered sedans and utes superb value, but they're superb cars overall.
A full road test will allow us to fully assess the new engine's capabilities, but for any performance car fan, you'd be mad not to consider one of these sporting Fords. With this V8 stable, FPV has given Ford fans something to really crow about.
In fact, if your allegiances are with the Holden camp, well, we certainly wouldn't blame you if you switched sides...