FPV GS ute

words - Joshua Dowling
Ford's supercharged V8 ute is a beast… But one that needs taming

Quick Spin

Price guide (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $52,000
Crash rating: Five-stars (ANCAP)
Fuel: 91 RON ULP
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 14.2
CO2 emissions (g/km): 335
Also consider: Holden Commodore SS V Ute

Overall Rating: 2.5/5.0
Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 4.0 for engine and gearbox and 1.0 for chassis.
Price, Packaging and Practicality: 4.0/5.0
Safety: 4.0/5.0
Behind the wheel: 2.0/5.0
X-factor: 3.0/5.0

About our ratings

Ford and FPV fans can finally rejoice. They are ahead in the power war with Holden. Just...

Though it's largely been left in the fine print, Ford ute fans don't get the full-blown 335kW of Ford Performance Vehicles' new supercharged 5.0-litre V8. Instead, they get the detuned 315kW version -- the same engine with all the tough internals but with a supercharger set to a slightly lower boost setting and a re-mapped torque curve. Torque is reduced from 570Nm to 545Nm.

You can (just) feel the difference, but it is still impressive, by far one of the best engines Australia has ever produced. The other challenger for that title is the FPV F6 turbo six.

But it quickly becomes apparently why there is a torque deficit -- and why the FPV Super Pursuit is no more. All those newton-metres and simply too much for the Ford ute's horse-and-cart-style leaf spring rear end.

The irony here is that the Ford is supposed to be the better workhorse, and yet it has a smaller tray and a lower payload than the Holden V8 utes.

Despite the best efforts of Ford and FPV, all that power is worth nothing if you don't have control -- or the ability to transform it into acceleration. Back to back tests by Motor magazine show this, with the GS trailing the HSV Maloo. What's most interesting, though, is that the F6 ute was quicker than both the V8s.

This is likely because the turbo naturally takes a while to spool up and once it's at full speed the F6 has enough pace already built up to minimise wheelspin. The GS, on the other hand, has its torque electronically starved (you can feel and hear it) but it is not as smooth or as successful at getting it moving smartly.

Of course, performance cars are not just about straight line speed, they need to handle corners too. And unfortunately the GS disappoints in this regard.

The front end feels too soft, wants to run wide in corners and then the back wants to step out -- especially if the surface has a few bumps in it. Enthusiast drivers may appreciate this level of involvement, but all I can say is that it is commendable that FPV offers a free driving course with every car it sells. The benefits in this particular instance cannot be overstated.

The other blot is this: why has one of the fastest Ford utes ever built still got regular XR8 brakes? Four piston Brembos are optional (six pistons are not -- they're reserved for the GT and GT-P sedans). Kudos to Ford for being honest enough to supply a test car with standard brakes, but brickbats to the product planners who let such a car go on sale like this.

I love this engine but feel strongly that it may have found its limits in a ute.

Unless FPV can better tune the suspension and fit wider rear tyres (which would also help fill out the blistered rear guards), this is one car that will put hairs on your chest... Whether you want them or not.

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Published : Thursday, 20 January 2011
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