Go to any automotive message board and you're bound to run upon at least one Ford vs. Holden comparo. It usually goes something like this:
- HSV rocks!
- You lie! Ford rocks more!
- HSV's are waaaaay faster.
- Yeah, well, um… my dad can beat up your sister!
- Don't talk smack about my sister bro!
- What, you want some o' this!?
- Bring it! and so on...
Ford Australia has had nothing to boast about lately, what with all their high-performance vehicles coming nowhere near the pace of their HSV rivals, and often looking quite ugly to boot. Back to the drawing boards for Ford then: out the window goes Tickford, in the door comes Ford Performance Vehicles and its ultimate BA Falcon: the 290kW GT (that's 389hp to those of us who aren't used to comparing our cars to our toasters). That's not enough power to dethrone HSV's GTS, but it's still enough to stir up some serious trouble. The 5.4-litre 32-valve V8 - dubbed the Boss 290 - is a sweet, free-revving power plant, with lots of torque down low (despite its relatively high peak) and a European-V8 growl at high rpms. Speaking of Europeans, good luck finding a quad-cam V8 at this price anywhere else in the world.
The big Ford also features a fully adjustable, stiffer sprung, double-wishbone suspension and a multi-link, independent rear suspension based on that of the X-Type. It's a well tuned system that tries hard to mask the GT's bulk - a heroic but doomed endeavor considering the 4000lb bulk (any Clubsport seems downright sprightly by comparison) - giving a firm but comfortable ride with little roll, that's well suited both to in-town work and fast sweepers.
The steering is sharper, has a slightly heavier feel and more direct response compared to lesser BA Falcons. Opt for the big Brembo brake package - standard on the GT-P - and you'll get monster 355-mm front, 330-mm rear rotors, 4-piston calipers at both ends and stainless steel brake lines - probably the best setup on any Australian production car. Gearbox choices include the slightly notchy Tremec TR3650 5-speed (hopefully soon to be replaced by a 6-speed a la Typhoon) or a specifically developed torque-munching BTR M97-019 4-speed automatic with sequential shifting.
The GT-P adds luxuries like sat-nav and a 100W stereo but it's the GT's
attractive interior that's best suited for such a high performance car, with
its grippier seats for high speed work. My advice: go for the GT and tick off
the $5950 AUSD Brembos. The last ace up the GT's sleeve is the impact it'll
make on your wallet: at less than 60K AUSD for the GT and $70K for the GT-P, it
undercuts HSV's GTS by more than a third of its base price. Automotive message
boards everywhere will never be the same! - by Traian Popescu
Specifications GT / GT-P
|Base Price, AUSD||59,850 / 69,850||Engine Type||32-valve dohc 90º V8|
|Powertrain Layout||Front engine, RWD||Displacement, cc||5408|
|Curb Weight, lb||3935||0-62 mph, sec||5.8|
|1/4 mile, sec@mph||-||600 ft slalom, mph||-|
|60-0 mph, ft||114||Top speed, mph||-|