EDIT: My bad...it is actually Carpoint's
WHAT WE LIKED
Ballistic straight-line speed
Brick wall brakes
Price makes it a bargain
NOT SO MUCH
Too light steering
Gear ratios need more space
Turbo-lag off-on throttle
Published November 2004
Article by Glenn Butler
Ford Performance Vehicles is a hit, no two ways about it. Since launching in Australia in June 2002, the faster Ford tuner has stormed the performance scene with highly tuned V8s like the GT sedan and Pursuit Ute.
But V8s can only take you so far, and FPV's looking to the turbocharged F6 Typhoon to draw more fans to the brand. It's more than just tweaking Ford's already brilliant XR6 turbo, it's a fundamental shift away from the Australian performance heartland. No longer is the V8 the be-all and end-all of Aussie muscle cars.
The Typhoon's been a poorly kept secret since late 2003, and FPV trotted out a thinly disguised 'concept' version at the Melbourne show in March 2004. October 2004 saw the 'production' version revealed at the Sydney motor show, and -- surprise, surprise -- it was little changed from the concept.
The burning question was not whether it would be built, but rather how far it would go. FPV's got a GT to protect, so producing a higher performance turbo-six could steal sales from the GT. Or would it?
Every Typhoon starts life as a Falcon XR6T, which means Ford's Car of the Year-winning BA chassis and body and a turbocharged six-cylinder engine under the bonnet. The Typhoon gets some mechanical modifications, mainly to the engine, which boost power 30kW to 270kW and torque a whopping 100Nm to 550Nm.
The Typhoon wears a cohesively designed body-kit which leaves you in no doubt about the car's intentions. Unique details include 18inch wheels and tyres and the letters FPV and F6 etched into the mesh grilles at the front.
There's only one model, and it's a six-speed manual because the BTR automatic gearbox couldn't handle the torque - the most of any local production engine, ever. The price is $58,950, putting it more than $2000 below the V8-engined GT, though FPV prefers to say it "sits alongside the GT".
The interior is pure FPV, which means sports seats, FPV trim and drilled alloy pedals. There's the signature FPV starter button on the dash, which we still forget about from time to time and sit there cranking the key to no avail.
Ford's driving position is second to none, thanks to reach and tilt adjustable steering, and rake, height and slide adjust on the seat. Large windows give a good view in all directions, and a high level of interior equipment adds to the panache.
The rear seats are typical of a Falcon, which means plenty of legroom and headroom, and enough width for three adults. The boot's cavernous, and should easily accommodate three sets of clubs, a case of stubbies and a football, or whatever you want to throw in there.
Typhoon's on-road ride is typical of FPV in that it delivers a surprising amount of comfort for a performance sedan. It absorbs bumps extremely well, and can leave you thinking it's a luxury tourer rather than a highly strung turbo terror.
But she ain't soft when the road turns, that's for sure. After all, it's been built with bends in mind, not business trips. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, for more on Typhoon's gale force performance, skip down to the On The Road section.
There are benefits to beginning with a Falcon, and safety's one of the more obvious examples. All Typhoons come with driver and passenger front airbags, and side airbags for the front row.
Typhoon's big Brembo brakes are four-wheel discs, as you'd expect, with twin pistons front and single piston rears. Antilock brakes (ABS) is standard along with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD).
Traction control is also part of the standard package, and is switchable for those times when you, err, umm, don't need it.
Okay, we know Typhoon is based on the Falcon XR6T, but its surprising how capable that base package turned out to be. FPV's changes aren't exactly sweeping, but rather a tweak here, a modification there, and whammo, you've got a sub-14 second six cylinder performance sedan.
FPV adds a dual entry intake to increase the amount of air entering the engine, it also wicks up the Garret turbocharger by around 50 percent. The intercooler is twice the size of XR6T's standard unit to cope with this extra air, and the valves get heavier duty springs to help them stay closed against the additional compression force.
The XR6T's exhaust system remains unchanged.
FPV's grabbed the XR6T's new six-speed Tremec T56 manual gearbox, with its new ratios, and dropped a shorter diff in the rear. Effectively, you end up with a slightly longer first gear than the old turbo and much shorter stacking of second through sixth to keep the engine spinning in that power band.
And what a power band. The Typhoon's making peak torque from 2000rpm to 4500rpm, and peak power kicks in at 5000rpm which means there's no shortage of urge behind the electronic throttle.
Typhoon's other changes centre around the suspension, including the previous GT's front springs and new model's uprated rear springs. This endows the Typhoon with lighter steering feel than the GT, and is better suited to Typhoon's lighter front end.
Nope, none from HSV, the company which isn't interested in high performance six cylinder engines. HSV boss John Crennan has emphatically denied HSV has an plans to do a hot six-cylinder model and has actually been quite dismissive in the past about FPV's plans.
"I put my hand on my heart when I say we do not have anything in our business plan today (July 2004) that says we'll take the high-feature V6 and do something with it," he said. "HSV's major competitor - if I can be so generous as to rate them that way - last year started out well but the graphs have dropped dramatically this year. The cake is only so big. And I could be wrong, but I think it (F6) will put a lot of pressure … on their GT and GT-P when you look at their sales and see that this year they've fallen back dramatically," he said.
So that leaves Typhoon as the only locally built, high performance six cylinder sedan for now. We reckon it's better than the GT and HSV's 6.0-litre V8s, but whether that affects their sales, or, like FPV's David Flint reckons, opens up a whole new performance market, only time will tell.
ON THE ROAD
By Chris Fincham
FPV's hot six contender is one of the most anticipated car releases this year. And after a brief drive of one of the first production cars on some windy roads in Melbourne's outer west, we can say it's been worth the wait.
Like its Falcon GT stablemate you press a starter button on the dash to fire up the Typhoon's hi-tech engine. But unlike the GT's menacing V8 rumble at idle, there's barely a murmur from the turbo six.
Where the GT can struggle to get cleanly off the line the Typhoon hits its stride immediately, launching hard from standstill and accelerating like there's no tomorrow, all the while tapping into a truckload of torque that's available from just off idle.
On the move acceleration is equally impressive, with strong response from any gear, at any speed. Helping to keep the turbo on song is a set of well-spaced gear ratios, including a tall first gear that runs to 60km/h, second gear to 100km/h, and third to 150km/h.
There's even a beeper at 5700rpm to remind you to up-change before the rev-limiter cuts in at 6000rpm, which makes extracting maximum performance child's play.
But what's equally impressive is the smoothness and refinement at full flight, with just a hint of engine noise and turbo whine at higher revs to disturb the ambience in the comfortable cabin.
The Typhoon's unique characteristics were most evident when driven back-to-back with the latest Falcon GT. With 60kg less weight up front, the Typhoon immediately feels lighter and more agile, while its nicely weighted and responsive steering, light clutch and a crisp-shifting gearbox add to its user-friendly appeal.
Along with impressive straight-line acceleration the Typhoon offers flat and predictable handling, powerful braking, and lichen-like grip from its 18-inch Dunlop tyres. Like the Falcon GT, ride quality is superb over rough roads.
FPV hasn't released any performance figures on the Typhoon, but our guess would be it's line ball, if not quicker than the GT, which despatches the 0-100km/h sprint in a swift six seconds.
Typhoon's styling may be a bit subdued for some, but up close it has a classy, European look, with just enough 'F6' bits inside and out to set it apart from the rest of the Falcon range.
At $58,950 -- $2400 less than the Falcon GT -- the Typhoon is an enticing proposition for performance car fans. At the very least it's a worthy alternative to the impressive Falcon GT.
Well, it seems they loved the thing. Good news.