New Car Test - Ford Falcon FPV GT-P

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The latest top-of-the-line Australian supercar - and it's nearly a third cheaper than its opposition!

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    By Michael Knowling
    Published: 13 June, 2003

    Two-ninety kilowatts.

    That's nearly twice the power of a Subaru WRX and some 100kW more than the Falcon GT of just ten years ago. Surely, the new GT-P from FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) must be some kind of wild bucking Bronco to drive; well, that's how it must seem. In reality, though, the GT-P is remarkably civilized and - dare we say it - relatively uneventful to drive. And, yes, that is a compliment...

    Much like the 300kW gun from HSV, the monstrously powerful GT-P is one of those cars that feels almost slow (relatively speaking) - until you look at the speedo and think "oh, crap!"

    The responsibility of building a 290kW 1825-kilogram sedan for the layperson has obviously been recognised at FPV and - thankfully - the car has been set-up not to bite.

    Mash the loud pedal to the floor and you can feel the beautifully supportive and comfortable sports seats absorb a good portion of your body weight, but there isn't the sudden neck-snapping jolt of response there is in, say, a Mitsubishi Magna Sport manual. Instead, Ford has damped the response of their electronic throttle control system for enhanced control and safety. Following your initial throttle application though, the DOHC 5.4 offers an in-rush of low rpm torque that is certainly superior to the 300cc larger 300kW HSV; there isn't the G-force that hits you in, say, a STi but you know this ain't your average Falcon when you're watching the speedo!

    In open, flowing roads the GT-P comes into its own. Be brave with entry speeds - put its porky kerb mass to the back of your mind - and this Ford is extremely fast point-to-point. We did find, however, it took some getting used to the simply humungous brakes; you have to deliberately pass your usual braking points, such is the GT-P's immense stopping power.

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    Without question, the GT-P's standard brakes set a new benchmark; they really would look right at home on a racecar. Don't believe us? Well, what other Aussie production car uses 'pillar vented' and cross-drilled 355 x 32mm Brembos at the front and 330 x 28mm ventilated and cross-drilled DBA discs at the rear? Add to this 4-pot front and rear Brembo calipers (using 40 and 44mm pistons at the front and 28 and 30mm pistons at the rear), stainless steel brake lines and, of course, ABS and EBD and it's easy to get excited - very excited - about these whopper stoppers. They can literally make some people feel faint during heavy brake applications...

    Once you've leant on the brakes on the approach to a corner, tip the car gently to the apex to set-up the mid-corner attitude and, depending on conditions, it's all too easy to tighten the exit line with a heavy squeeze on the throttle. The standard TRC system will let you poke the back-end slightly sideways before subtly taking control and brining order to the court. It's all very enjoyable and - at the same time - it feels very safe. Having said that, though, we still get the impression that the car could be 'lost' in a pretty major way with a real goose behind the wheel. We would like to see stability control available, at least, as an option.

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    The only environment the GT-P gets a bit unwieldy is in tight, urban conditions. The double wishbone front suspension and Control Blade IRS (with revised spring and damper rates, revised swaybars, bushes and alignment) allows a surprising amount of body roll, which is a by-product of the BA's considerable dynamic weight transfer. The GT-P doesn't feel at all bad in these conditions, but we can just imagine a number of smaller, more nimble cars whipping the GT-P through a small roundabout. At all times, though, there is a generous amount of grip on offer from the standard 245/40 ZR Dunlop SP9000s worn on 18 x 8 alloys. Traction can be an issue accelerating hard through first and second gears and the switchable traction control must be activated in damp conditions.

    The GT-P's steering is nicely weighted and - largely thanks to those 40-series Dunlops - there's good response at all steering angles. Like other BA Falcons we've tested, there's also virtually no tram lining traits.

    But let's get back to the engine - the 290kW DOHC 5.4-litre Frankenstein (which is offered only in the Australian market).

    Based on the 260kW DOHC 5.4-litre as found in the BA XR8, the GT-P's Boss 290 engine "combines race-bred quad-cam multi-valve technology combined with traditional high-compression V8 muscle." The cast iron block uses an under-square bore (90.2mm bore and 105.8mm stroke), swings a balanced forged steel crankshaft with re-engineered conrods and domed pistons which raise the compression ratio to 10.5:1. The high CR means the GT-P needs a minimum of 96RON fuel.

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    Atop the block are a pair of free flowing aluminium heads with four chain-driven hollow camshafts (offering 13mm intake lift and 12mm exhaust lift). The cams feel pretty aggressive from the seat-of-your-pants - there's a definite shake at idle. Each cylinder breathes through dual intake and exhaust valves; note that the Boss 290kW engine is easily the most affordable quad-cam V8 on the market.

    The intake manifold is a beauty. Using tuned-length trumpets feeding from a large cast alloy plenum chamber (which necessitates a tough looking 'power bulge' in the bonnet), the new manifold offers great top-end flows. Likewise with the rest of the intake system; there's a huge 75mm throttle body (with the aforementioned electronic control), fat induction plumbing and the conical filter arrangement as fitted to the Cobra. Note that there's no airflow meter - a manifold pressure sensor sends an engine load signal to the management system.

    Breathing is equally unrestricted at the opposite end - each bank is fitted with quality looking headers leading into a low-restriction stainless exhaust. Exhaust noise is minimal at light-load cruise, but there's a satisfying bellow as you exercise the Boss.

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    Given its cubic capacity, DOHC 4-valve heads and high state of tune, the GT-P's engine outputs come as no surprise - Ford rate it with 290kW at 5500 rpm and a stomach wrenching 520Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. In comparison, the HSV GTS makes 300kW at 6000 and 510Nm at 4800 rpm. Without question, the 300kW LS1 is more flexible in the top-end as it has 500 rpm more room to play with; the Ford, though, is more of a grunter from low rpm so it has a similar effective 'powerband'. Interestingly - like the 300kW LS1 - the GT-P benefits from a slight rev to move off the mark; it's all too easy to stall otherwise.

    The GT-P is offered with a choice of transmissions - a Tremec TR3650 5-speed or a specifically developed BTR M97-019 4-speed Sequential Sports Shift automatic. Our test vehicle was equipped with the Tremec, which - although quite sweet - requires a decisive shift action. The clutch, meanwhile, has quite a short throw and is the 280mm 'Terminator' unit from the Mustang - certainly, there's an awful lot of torque to hold. Despite this, the there's not a lot of clutch pedal effort required thanks to the hydraulic actuation system.

    Note that the 300kW competitor from HSV sports an extra cog over the manual GT-P; whether or not this is a significant advantage is debatable.

    Heading further astern, the engine's 520Nm torque output necessitates a unique two-piece tailshaft with a flex coupling immediately behind the transmission - this smooths gear changes and partially absorbs shock loadings. The differential is a Dana M86 unit featuring a wet mutilate clutch LSD - you can hear the rear wheels skipping in tight manoeuvres.

    The GT-P is a doddle to launch - in dry conditions, anyway. It refuses to bog down and, almost regardless of launch technique, it sprints from a standing start to 100 km/h in easy low 6s. We reckon you could crack a five without too much trouble.

    Note, though, the performance of our test car varied noticeably with changing ambient temperatures; we noticed the engine detonating slightly on throttle transients (probably due to increased ignition advance) during cold nighttime driving. And, yes, the fuel octane was adequate - BP Ultimate (98RON).

    Of course, everyone wants to know which is quicker - the HSV GTS or the FPV GT-P? Well, we'd have to line them up side-by-side to pick it - in other words, you're splitting hairs. There is only a 3 percent power difference between the pair after all!

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    The GT-P is certainly slower in one respect - fuel consumption. Our test average was 17-litres per 100 kilometres - appalling in absolute terms, but still a tad better than we've achieved with the HSV equivalent. Be warned of the GT-P's range, though; we'd consumed about half of the 68-litre tank in barely over 200 kilometres...

    Comparisons to HSV's 300kW GTS is as inevitable as night follows day. Dynamically, the Ford is a close match overall for the HSV but in terms of price it's a no-brainer - at $69,850 (plus ORCs) the GT-P absolutely flogs the GTS at $93,500. That's a price difference of $23,650 - so you could almost buy a new Ford Focus Zetec with the cash you save buying the GT-P...

    Inside, the GT-P (short for GT-Premium) doesn't come with standard leather and a shift light like the HSV GTS, but it does have a few Aces up its sleeve...

    The GT-P's colour screen Prestige Interior Command Centre (ICC) links to a dual climate control system, audio system, a trip computer and serves as a display for ambient temperature and HVAC status. There's certainly a lot of info on display on that LCD screen - perhaps a little too much for easy viewing. The standard sound system is a 100W set-up with a 6-disc in-dash stacker, but our test car came fitted with the optional 150W amplifier and rear sub-woofer; no complaints about sound quality or SPLs.

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    Other interior features for the GT-P include a push-button starter, chequered patterns and satin highlights, brilliantly designed 'winged' seats with adjustable lumbar support, drilled alloy pedal covers, an FPV build plate and door scuff plates and a fat Momo gearknob and steering wheel. Of course, all this comes over and above everything you'd expect in a top-line vehicle - remote central locking, alarm, DataDots, power windows and mirrors, 4-way driver's seat adjustment and the aforesaid cruise control. There are also twin dual-stage front airbags and side airbags as standard.

    Aside from the premium audio upgrade and leather trim as fitted to our test car (which cost an extra $900 and $2750 respectively), the other main options are a $3600 navigation system and a $2750 electric sunroof.

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    Although the GT-P's level of performance usually brings compromises, this is a tremendously comfortable and practical full-size sedan. The Dunlop tyres make a bit of road noise, but the ride is always very good - just a tad harsh over sharp irregularities - and noise levels are about perfect for a beast such as this. As we've stated in previous tests of the BA Falcon series, there's ample interior room and the boot can swallow Daihatsus whole. Although you'll find a full size alloy spare wheel in the boot, it does suffer an undulating load surface with poor carpet finish - something common to all BA sedans.

    The other bits we don't like are the ratty feeling centre console and roof storage facilities, and - worse - the impossible to read at-a-glance speedo and tacho. Unfortunately, in addition to having quite small markings, the dial background has a chequered flag theme that 'absorbs' the markings in daylight. The blue LED instrument backlighting works quite well at night, however.

    There's no mistaking the GT-P as anything but an Aussie muscle car - it looks t-o-u-g-h and receives quite a few thumbs up from bystanders. The basic BA Falcon lines feature a large 'power bulge' bonnet for engine clearance, XR-type headlights plus lower fog lights, a FPC highlighted front fascia with solid splitter, side skirts with GT-P accents, standard double-D exhaust tips and a high rear wing with a central LED brake light. Note that the rear wing is quite slim and doesn't sacrifice rear visibility, but the front spoiler assembly can crunch when negotiating awkward driveways. The wheels are unique to the GT-P - 7-spoke 18s, which Ford claim reminiscent of Minilites fitted to classic Ford racecars. Look closely and you might recognise a few other styling features carried over from classic Falcon GTs.

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    There's no question in the conclusion to this road test - FPV is onto a sure-fire winner. The fact that it can compete on virtually the same level as the $23,650 more expensive HSV GTS is enough to ensure the GT-P will be a hot seller. And then you factor in its brilliant brakes, slightly superior fuel economy, interior command centre - not to mention the fact its service intervals are 15,000km versus the HSV's 10,000km - and the game really is over.

    It's big, it's brutishly fast and it's a bloody bargain.

    -----

    Why You Would...

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    Those brakes - by far the best on a local production car
    Progressive torque delivery with no low-rpm hole
    Very fast in a straight-line and point-to-point
    Rides very well considering the performance
    Fuel consumption a tad better than comparable HSV
    A lot of comfort, cubes and performance for the money
    Much cheaper than 300kW HSV

    Why You Wouldn't...

    Poor finish inside the boot
    Poor gauge clarity in daylight
    Marginal front ground clearance
    Thirsty in outright terms
    We'd like to see stability control on a car like this - at least as an option

    -----

    Footnote:

    [​IMG]

    The FPV GT - as opposed to the GT-P - offers the same engine and driveline and can be bought from just $59,850. The GT doesn't, however, get the GT-P's standard Brembo brake package (it's a $5950 option), slightly different aesthetics and a less opulent interior. The GT is certainly by far the cheapest full size car with this level of performance.

    [​IMG]

    www.fpv.com.au

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  2. 7

    7 First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire.

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  3. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    Hotness
     
  4. N8

    N8 This fucking guy.

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    That wing is pure rice, although if it was replaced with a tasteful lip on the back :hitit:
     
  5. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    290kw = 390hp for those of you who are conversionally challenged.
     
  6. Boudreaux

    Boudreaux Active Member

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    great...america???


    and another thing... its a mini-monaro...


    And i fucking want one...
     
  7. Skizza20

    Skizza20 Robster craws? What the f*(& are robster craws?!?

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    I would rock the hell out of that car. :eek3:
     
  8. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    :ugh: There's nothing mini about that car
     
  9. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    That engine is very similar to the 2000 Cobra R's unit. It's also a cousin of the Ford GT's 500hp supercharged mill.
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    IBNissanisbetter
     
  11. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    ibizerocomplainsitweighsover4000lbs :o
     
  12. Boudreaux

    Boudreaux Active Member

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    it looked small in the pics.... :(
     
  13. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It's a big mofo.
     
  14. tolomei

    tolomei Leaving Las *****-Vegas

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    Ford is really stepping up their line.
     
  15. mikdavi84

    mikdavi84 OT Supporter

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    If Ford is an American company, why is all of its cool shit sold overseas?
     
  16. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    it would be tough to choose between all the high end aussie falcons. The 4 Liter turbo I6, or any of the big v8s for more money.

    I wish we had those kinds of choices here in full sized cars.
     
  17. mzmtg

    mzmtg New Member

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    Wow, another ford without a redline on the tach
     
  18. bokhan

    bokhan i love you

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    is it coming here?
     
  19. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    not anytime soon
     
  20. Vagabond

    Vagabond Nope. OT Supporter

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    I want it, I want it now

    Please, please please Ford bring over a aussie-spec Falcon...
     
  21. Vagabond

    Vagabond Nope. OT Supporter

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    Good question.

    Another is why is Ford's passenger-car quality so much higher overseas and not in the US?
     
  22. Jerm

    Jerm I

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    ...and we have cool cars that they don't get, actually a lot more cool cars they don't get :hs:
     
  23. PurpleSplat

    PurpleSplat Guest

    Funny how you're all ready to whip out your meat for a car that looks like a BMW assfucked with a Chrysler Sebring. :eek3:
     
  24. dmora

    dmora Guest

    Cause the ones over seas have no relation to Ford USA really.
     
  25. Vagabond

    Vagabond Nope. OT Supporter

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    You're right, us americans get SVT's :hs:
     

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