FPV GT-P: Stroppy Aussie packs a punch

By Matt Greenop

Ford Performance Vehicles' latest FPV GTP is more of an evolution than revolution, but with 335kW under the big bonnet, it's certainly fun.
Ford Performance Vehicles' latest FPV GTP is more of an evolution than revolution, but with 335kW under the big bonnet, it's certainly fun.

Somehow, I've managed to get myself involved in an economy run this Easter weekend. It involves pedalling a Honda Insight hybrid in the most environmentally friendly manner, and trying to beat some other media bods by returning low mileage numbers.

Not usually a big subscriber to frugal fuel frivolity, this may well be some sort of karmic payment for the size-11 carbon footprints that were left all over the Coromandel recently in Ford Performance Vehicles' latest version of its flagship GT-P.

The "more power" arms race between FPV and HSV has provided some real options for fans of Aussie muscle in the past few years - which came to a head least year when the heavy, slow-revving 5.4L engine was binned.

It had reached the end of its development cycle and wasn't going to meet emissions standards or allow the numbers it needed to take on Holden's V8s on specs. So the next-gen Mustang V8, then code-named Coyote, was drafted in and supercharged with a Harrop blower - returning an impressive 335kW and 570Nm of torque.

This force-fed cocktail added up to a surprisingly meagre 14-odd litres per 100km in six-speed manual form last year. Its six-speed auto version in the facelifted model that you see here was less forgiving to the back pocket.

In fact, the sheer joy of the servo owner in Thames as the look-at-me GT-P rumbled on to his forecourt for a top-up after returning harrowing numbers north of 18.5L/100km during its half-day in Auckland was screamingly obvious. After a couple of days at the very heart of green country, it had calmed down, but only to around 17L/100km.

Granted, in auto form and on serpentine, hilly roads full of campervans on the way to Hahei, consumption wasn't ever going to be light. But forking over more than $90,000 (Ford NZ is still to confirm the price) for a car with a supercharged five-litre DOHC V8 for fuel economy is like buying a 1kg chocolate egg to avoid eating too many Easter Eggs.

If you're after a madly entertaining car that takes off like a fart in a hurricane, sounds as angry as it looks and won't leave a Euro-sized hole in the wallet for a big pile of power, this stroppy Aussie is just the ticket.

The GT-P hasn't had a huge exterior overhaul, but gets an even grumpier front spoiler, grinning like a loon with its chromed-up double grilles, complete with embossed FPV logo. The skirts and rear bumper follow suit, and the lighting package gets some nice details.

A welcome change from the garish green and gold on last year's "Mk 1" is the "Lightning Strike" silver paint with the Ford signature hockey stick decals in a muted satin black. It looks the part, and the 19-inch rims with cross-drilled brake rotors and red Brembo six-pot calipers peeking through add to its presence.

The biggest upgrade is really on the inside. A new eight-inch resistive touch screen has replaced the LCD in the 2011 model, with a far more advanced tech offering. There's sat-nav - not quite as slick as "stick on" GPS devices like TomTom's Go Live, but perfectly usable and well-integrated, despite the screen being dimmed by glare in some very bright conditions.

The system is standard on all new FPVs, but navigation is only included on the higher-specced GT-E, GT-P and more exec-styled E models.

Smartphone integration has improved and is still fairly straightforward, with Bluetooth audio streaming now allowing cable-free access to music, but there's still a mini plug line in or USB port to plug into, both located in the cavernous centre console.

A reversing camera is displayed on the big screen, although a sonar-only option is on hand if that's your preference.

The new GT-P is obviously not left wanting for power, and does pose a solid threat to the demerits balance. It's off the line fairly rapidly, although it's at its strongest in third gear and passing situations - a real boon on those Coro roads with their never-quite-enough passing lanes.

Handling is still quite dependent on the right foot and is at its best when using the trans in "manual mode". The back end does push the fiery Falcon around, and the front is still a bit bouncy on rougher roads, although the low engine position and a bit less weight than the old 5.4 version has made it drive far more sharply than its 1880kg frame has you expecting.

- NZ Herald

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