FORD FPV GS REVIEW
There’s a bit of history in the GS badge. It’s a ‘70s thing; a throwback to when the GS Falcon offered some of the cachet of the bruising GT without the crushing price and insurance premiums.
Fast forward to today (or should that be fast-Ford?) and that GS badge offers one of the best V8s we’ve driven - a supercharged 32-valve DOHC all-alloy gem - six-speed manual or auto and, in the ute, sedan-like comfort.
It is a thunderous drive, solid rear axle notwithstanding, and bargain-buying for a genuine performance car.
- Quality: Falcon’s interior is first class. Inside, the GS picks up carbon-fibre highlights, boost gauge, sports seats (leather optional), build number and stubby satin chrome shift.
- Comfort: Thanks to deep well-shaped seats, adjustable steering wheel and airy cabin, the GS is both comfortable and easy to live with.
An omission however, in a car that begs to be driven enthusiastically, is the absence of a footrest.
- Equipment: Six-disc CD stacker, MP3 compatibility, iPod integration, Bluetooth and dual-zone climate control are standard fare for the GS, as is a push-button starter and 19-inch five-spoke alloys.
- Storage: Well, it’s a ute, so it’s all about storage. Beside the huge ‘pick-up’ tub, it offers useful space behind the seats although access is a bit awkward.
In our care, the GS swallowed a load of 45 dozen bottles of wine. It sat low but the ‘Coyote’ V8 didn’t even notice.
Also, the lined tub comes with inner tie-down hooks, FPV-badged tarp and tie-ropes.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: It may have thumping 315kW performance, but the GS Ute is surprisingly easy to poke around.
Importantly, the new 5.0 litre all-alloy V8 feels lighter and lower in the nose than the 5.4 it replaces. Turn-in is sharper than for the previous model, which wasn’t shabby, and free of ‘rack-rattle’ that some have criticised in the past.
Though the six-speed manual slots easily, it needs a firm hand. Manoeuvrability is good although there is an annoying ‘over-the-shoulder’ blind spot.
- Refinement: The new V8 rumbles darkly at idle, and crackles and howls above 5000rpm, but is not the raucous beast of old.
Overall, the GS is an appealing drive. Firm but not hard, it’s quiet on-road with little tyre roar and also free of thumping or crashing on gravel.
- Suspension: The double wishbone front end is superb; the solid axle and leaf-spring rear is old school (and best for load carrying), but it works.
While not skittish, unladen it can ‘bobble’ over undulations on secondary roads. That said, it is firmly tied down when shown the whip on a winding road.
- Braking: Big 322mm front ventilated discs and 302mm solid rear discs in big wheels give straight fade-free braking. The pedal can harden if really getting a work-out but the GS pulls up arrow-true.
- ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
- Safety features: There are driver and front passenger airbags, side head/thorax airbags, pyrotechnic seatbelt pretensioners, Beltminder™ system and driver fatigue warning.
The GS also comes equipped with stability control, traction control (programmed to allow a little wheel slip), ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: TBC.
- Service costs: Check with your Ford Dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Falcon XR6 Turbo Ute - Now at $38,950 driveaway, it’s a steal. The GS is better but.
- Holden SS Ute, HSV Maloo - We like the brutish SS; it’s yours for $42,990 driveaway at the moment - $10k less than the GS. HSV’s lairy Maloo is much dearer, discounted at the moment to $70,490 driveaway. Both Holdens are good, but Ford’s hot utes have the edge. (see SS Ute reviews)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
FPV’s GS Ute is more than just stripes and dress-up gear. This is a serious performance car – that supercharged alloy V8 is simply masterful.
A few niggles aside, there is little to criticise; it may have workhorse origins but it’s a very potent and comfortable point-to-point tourer.
At $50k-plus, and with just two seats, it’s not for everyone. But kilowatt for kilowatt, and for sheer performance and practicality, it’s almost bargain buying.