Driven: Ford FPV GT E
Aussie supersaloon is the toughest rival for the Vauxhall VXR8 - but sadly, there are no plans to bring the Ford FPV GT E to the UK
What is it?
Don’t get too excited – there are no plans to bring any of Ford Performance Vehicles’ (FPV)’s models to Europe from their Aussie homeland. But we couldn’t resist bringing you a report on the latest and – if evolution works – greatest take on their illustrious ‘GT’ nameplate.
This is the top-line luxury spec FPV GT E - think of it as an Aussie brute in a tailored suit. Amidst declining sales there has been talk of ditching the rear-wheel drive platform for the next generation Falcon, so FPV’s £26 million-plus driveline development spend needs to deliver if the iconic muscle saloon is to escape extinction.
Developed with FPV technical partners Prodrive, the GT’s party piece lies beneath its swollen bonnet bulge. Part of Ford’s latest-gen 'Coyote' 5.0 litre V8 family (along with the new Mustang), the GT adds a locally developed front-drive, rear entry supercharger (complete with ECU-controlled internal bypass system) to produce 449bhp @ 5750rpm and 421lb ft across a plateau that spreads from 2200-5500rpm. The GT E is solely available with the renowned ZF six-speed auto. Cheaper GT and GT-P have a manual option.
What's it like to drive?
At 1852kg it is largely an exercise in controlling mass. The secondary ride is exemplary with no fidget through the wheel and the damping maintains good body control over larger bumps. Show it a challenging sequence of corners and the initial steering input doesn’t weight up as you might hope, while the front-end displays some lateral roll and a preference for slight understeer. Overriding these nuances is the need to constantly manage traction. The motor’s a true powerhouse with a torque swell so broad it could choke a C63. Realistically it is more than the 245-section Dunlop Sport Maxx’s at the back can handle, ensuring the stability control is kept busy. Thankfully the Brembo six-piston front/four-piston rear brakes provide lovely progressive pedal feel and confident, consistent hard-stop ability.
How does it compare?
Its natural rival, the HSV GTS – or Vauxhall VXR8 GTS in the UK - lags in outright power but has a handling advantage thanks to Magnetic Ride Control dampers. With GT E, FPV are spanning the range between sporting and luxurious, traditionally the German’s preserve. Though its performance is near to par these days, its interior ambience loses out against the AMG/M Division high rollers. However, when you factor in price (approx £54,000 at current exchange rates) the GT E’s performance/value equation becomes compelling.
Anything else I need to know?
Though Falcon had its poorest sales year ever in 2010, the new FPV range has enjoyed an increase in sales of 62% in the first quarter of 2011. Unlike the Holden/Vauxhall export tie-up, Ford sadly has no plans to export FPV products to the UK, but here’s hoping there is life to the rear-wheel drive V8 performance Ford yet.
|Engine||V8 petrol, 5000cc, supercharged|
|Max power||449bhp @ 5750rpm|
|Max torque||421lb ft @ 2200-5500rpm|
|0-60||4.9 seconds (claimed 0-62mph)|