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MOTORNET: Ford FPV - Comic Book Capers

Comic Book Capers

SCOOP MOTORNET with Karl Ferguson
Images by Neil Mackenzie -

Toxic terror yellow, caped crusader blue – is it possible that Ford’s FPV colour palette has in some way been influenced by comic book super heroes – or anti-heroes for that matter? Judging by the sheer luridness of the test GT and Typhoon vehicles you could certainly be forgiven for thinking so. All that’s missing are a few conveniently timed ‘crunches’ and ‘kapows.’

Aside from the dubious exterior coatings though, it would be fair to say neither of these vehicles have much in common with a somewhat camp and purple-prose laden 60s TV show. In fact, more likely they take after the newer Batman franchise – purposeful and a little menacing, designed for a world that requires both intellect and muscle. There’s no doubt they mean business.

Click for big version

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Tooling around town in the yellow peril (as it was dubbed during the week I had it), Ford’s FPV Typhoon proved to be more than just skin deep when it came to substance. The last time I drove this vehicle I was impressed by its levels of sophistication and refinement. Powerful yes, thuggish no.

And things have improved even more with the addition of a six-speed automatic gearbox. It’s not that I have anything against the manual – far from it – but these cars do take a bit of driving, and the auto option is an attractive alternative, especially when it’s this good. The six-speeder is smooth and fluid. Simply bury the throttle and it drops ratios without fuss. If you prefer, you can slot it into manual mode which proves to be both usable and satisfying.

Likewise, accessing the Typhoon’s power is no less satisfying now it comes with an auto tranny. 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 readily achievable.

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The tyre shredding performance is all thanks to Ford’s big 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.

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The GT by comparison sticks with the tried and true V8. Cubic capacity generally equals serious muscle and it doesn’t disappoint. 290kW and 520Nm of torque fair hustle this monster along, and despite the rationality of the forced induction Typhoon twin, there will always be those who find the sheer noise of a big bore V8 both addictive and irresistible all at once.

On both, 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, the tough-twins manage good ride in-spite of 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 an FPV isn’t the car for you. A cut up road surface will see the driver wrestling for control.

Nevertheless, both the Typhoon and GT make for pretty good drives. For many, there will be an expectation that an FPV vehicle 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 understeer 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 big cars, they track and steer pretty damn well. There’s not much in it, but the Typhoon wins my vote in this department. With less weight over the front wheels, the handling feels more neutral, and ultimately more balanced.

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GT Interior –Typhoon Interior

Inside, the theme of quiet sophistication continues. There’s no disguising their fairly humble beginnings, but materials on both 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 comes at a price though. The F6 Typhoon – the entry level FPV – kicks off at $69,990, or a around $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 just beats out the bigger and heavier GT. The Typhoon averaged around 16.2 litres/100km, where the GT was into the low 18’s per 100/km. As always, driving habits will ultimately determine how long either car goes between slurps at the fuel pumps.

While it is unlikely either of these vehicles will find many supporters from the environmental camp, to dismiss them out of hand as outdated dinosaurs is both ignorant and uninformed. The overarching impression I am left with from both is that of a high degree of sophistication – an impression that has been enhanced by the addition of the new six-speed automatic. Practically speaking, they will not suit everyone, but as engaging and rewarding grand-touring vehicles they pack quite a punch – no doubt something that current FPV drivers are already well aware of.

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