MOTORNET: Ford's F6 Typhoon - Gentle Giant?
SCOOP MOTORNET with Karl Ferguson
Images by Neil Mackenzie - onlinefotos.com/neil
There is something quite satisfying about having a big bore straight six under the bonnet when sitting at traffic lights. Instant power can offer instant gratification, something particularly true of Aussie muscle cars. But once upon a time, Aussie muscle cars were all about brawn – sophistication wasn’t really part of the equation, which somewhat restricted the audience. The question is, have the goalposts shifted?
Ford’s FPV – or Ford Performance Vehicle range – is the blue oval’s answer to Holden’s high profile and equally sought after HSV range, and as new models come on-line, it’s definitely becoming a brand to be reckoned with. Earlier in the year I gave the FPV GT a fairly comprehensive workout against the new Holden HSV Clubsport. The GT stacked up as a serious muscle car and a very competent cruiser.
This time it’s the F6 Typhoon – similar in many respects to the GT but critically, minus two cylinders, making do with a straight six where the GT has an all muscle V8. But don’t write off the Typhoon just yet. Instead of cylinders, this Typhoon has a turbo, and boy does it blow.
Dial up some revs, dump the clutch and the F6 goes for broke. There’s wheelspin if you want it but the power is for the most part put down very quickly and without fuss. The acceleration is blistering and where the V8 lacked a little in the low-end grunt stakes, the Typhoon just storms ahead. A 0-100 km/h time of around six seconds is easily achievable even by driver’s who wouldn’t present much of a challenge to Jim Richards round the Bathurst track.
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The tyre shredding performance is all thanks to the big aforementioned straight six which has a capacity of four litres, 24 valves and with the addition of the Garrett GT35/40 turbocharger manages a stonking 270kW’s and 550Nm of torque from as little as 2000rpm (an XR6 Turbo manages 240kW by comparison). In other words, there’s power to burn pretty much as soon as you turn the key – or in this case, push the starter button.
While the car is definitely performance focused, there’s more to it than just the engine. Take the colour palette for example. There are 13 options in all, with names like ‘Shockwave’ and ‘Velocity.’ The test car was a fairly bright, but not unattractive orange, not inappropriately titled ‘Vixen’. Shrinking violets are unlikely to find the colours appealing, but let’s be honest – this is the type of car people buy because they want to be noticed. The design is generally attractive and while there is a noticeable distinction from lesser Fords, with the inclusion of a mesh grille and side skirts for example, the Typhoon foregoes the bonnet scoop and giant whale tail of the GT, giving it an overall cleaner look.
As a package, it all works pretty well. The clutch is manageable but has quite a lot of travel and needs to be fully depressed to get the best gear changes from the six-speed manual transmission. Clutch problems have previously plagued the FPV Typhoon, delaying production, but they seem to be well sorted now. There is currently no automatic on offer.
The steering is hefty by today’s standards and requires a fair bit of muscle to heave it around. The wheel itself is also on the chubby side, best suited to large meaty hands, but it all goes with the territory. Feel is pretty good and there is plenty of feedback to guide the driver.
Similarly, ride is good in-spite of the low profile 18” wheels – wheels which really look the business I might add. If tramlining – where the wheels follow the indentations in the road – is something that bothers you though, then chances are the Typhoon isn’t the car for you. A cut up road surface will see the driver wrestling for control.
Nevertheless, the Typhoon is a pretty good drive. For many, there will be an expectation that the FPV will drive like an unsophisticated lump, thuggishly and without any subtlety. Quite frankly, they would be wrong. In the dry, the handling is fairly neutral and under steer out of the corners is predictable and controllable. Even pushing it – which is something many drivers are likely to do – doesn’t produce white knuckle grip or produce overly sweaty palms. If things get a little overcooked in the corner, there’s standard traction control to help avoid any serious mess. For such a big car, it tracks and steers pretty damn well.
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Inside, the theme of quiet sophistication continues. There’s no disguising the fairly humble beginnings of the Typhoon, but materials are of a generally high quality though the imitation carbon fibre is a bit low rent and some of the plastics could be improved upon all the same… Even so, equipment is generous. Six disc in-dash CD player, automatic climate control, leather steering wheel, trip computer... the list of goodies is extensive. And to remind you you’re not driving just an ordinary Ford, there are big but comfy sports seats, drilled aluminium pedal covers, a starter button, and supplementary oil pressure and turbo gauges mounted on the dash. The extra gauges might be a bit superfluous but they are still a nice touch.
All that extra power and fancy gauges come at a price though. The F6 Typhoon – the entry level FPV – kicks off at $69,990, or a little over $5k less than the GT. Needless to say, in this day and age, fuel economy will be an increasing influencer when it comes to making a purchase decision and in that respect, the Typhoon doesn’t do so well. The vehicle was averaging around 16.2 litres/100km – a figure that could easily be blown out with injudicious acceleration.
In taming the beast then, have Ford killed its innate appeal? In short, no. Arguably, they may have actually increased it. There’s no doubt that this car still takes some driving. You have to grab it by the scruff of the neck and show it who is boss. And for that reason, it can prove to be a very rewarding drive when all the elements come together. But more importantly, it’s still extremely usable. If the boss asks someone in the office – be they female or male – to head down in the Typhoon to the local liquor store for some beers on a Friday, you won’t hear the chorus of ‘I can’t drive your car’. It really is that easy to tool around in. And in achieving that dual personality with the Typhoon, Ford has managed to make a car (and in fact a range of vehicles) that not only manage to remain relevant, but also desirable.
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