The SS-V and FPV GS are the cut-price performers in their respective red and blue camps. One's all about the power, the other is more about control. Which philosophy tempts us more?
While the V8 powering the Holden is bigger, its ohv design needs to be revving before the engine will yield its booty of torque. Not till 3500rpni does the party really start, and then at 6000rpm, like some automotive noise police, the rev limiter arrives to shut proceedings down early. The V8 still feels willing up to this point, but that's to do with the cylinder deactivation system, which lowers the peak revs by 400rpm. It doesn't sound like much, but when you're trying to keep a blown 5.0-litre from disappearing on you, every rev is vital.
If you've ever wanted to own a bigV8, this is the time to indulge before it's too late, what with emissions laws and gas at $2 a litre. And I:PV's engine is the one here for that illicit affair. It surges forward on the merest tickle of the go-pedal, its throttle response crisp and more instantaneous than that of the atmo Holden. Compared with the slightly muted SS-V it sounds devilish, too, the supercharger whine giving way to an old-fashioned rumble as revs build.
The gearboxes are similar, both six-speed autos with Sports and Manual modes, and both have the manual selector the right way around: pull to go up, push to go down. Neither has gearshift paddles - and the Holden probably needs them. But where GM uses its own unit, Ford uses the excellent ZF-supplied 'box, which has less slur in its operation, and snaps through manual shifts more few months back we featured the big dogs of the local Ford and GM ranges in lite pumped-up form of the FPV GT-P and the HSV GTS. Further down the pecking order you'll find these two, the S73.990 FPV GS, and Holden's SS-V Series Redline Edition at $74,490. If you're after a big V8 bruiser, either saves you thousands, yet both still serve up a big ol' chunk of over-powered, rear-drive shenanigans. While similar in concept, these brash Aussies deliver their mischief in different ways. The SS-V, with its Redline additions, is all about control, while the GS, which features a boosted eight, is about the power. And while the 260kW Holden lacks grunt compared to the 315kW GS, it has a more replete specification list.
Talkin' about power
The FPV has bragging rights here. Ford's new 5.0-litre has a bunch-load of power living in its Vee thanks to the supercharger that resides within. It also stokes up the newton metres low in the rev range and is ready to honk with just the slightest prod of the throttle. With more cams and valves to manage the airflow and smaller pistons, the variably-timed Ford V8 revs more quickly and freely.
The GS may get big 19s (good) but has to make do with smaller brakes (bad)
When the boost gauge is sweeping, the FPV is making plenty of power
GM offers you the chance to motor along on four cylinders, changing seamlessly over to the full eight count when you need more go
The A pillar in the Commodore is thick, this pic taken from the view point of the driver
Big cars have big boots, perlect for taking the trash to the dump
It's the little things that count. These cars may cost in excess of $70K but neither has a lining for the boot lid
Reversing cameras are a must have safety item. The SS-V has one as standard, you'll need to dig deeper for one in the GS though
Redline Editions get shiny polished alloys and bigger Brembo brakes
Not quite a GT
The GS is the entry point to FPV, and has similar mechanicals to the GT but with much less fruit. Ifs also down on power by 20kW and 25Nm, as its supercharger runs 0.34bar to the GT's 0.4. The other bits are the same: sports suspension, gearbox (Tremec manual, or ZF auto is a no-cost option) and the tuned exhaust. It even gets 19-inch alloys, but the brakes are smaller (355mm vs 322mm) and there are no Brembo bits. There are no high-rise spoilers or FPV eye makeup either, while inside It's more akin to the XR6. But at $73,990. the GS is the cheapest way to put a 300kW car on your driveway - unless you buy the $66K ute.
Available as an option on V-Series Commodores is a new Redline package, designed to enhance the handling of the VE further. It you buy a sedan, you'll get a 'track-inspired' FE3 suspension package (the Calais rides on FE1; the SV6 and SS ride on FE2) with tuned dampers and thicker sway bars. Also added are four-piston, two-piece Brembo callipers that chomp into 355mm front rotors. Pick Redlined cars by their polished 19-inch alloys, leftovers from the Pontiac G8 GXP. To Redline your V-Series costs an extra $2900, and it's well worth it, particularly for the Calais.
quickly while nailing the changes under load at speed. Though you can no longer opt for an SS-V manual, there is a manual GS, but we wouldn't recommend it; the auto does a superb job and doesn't cost any extra.
Though the transmissions can be left in Drive to do their tiling, it's better fun to play with the lever. The Holden benefits more from this hands-on manipulation, as its Sport mode isn't a patch on the FPV's, and its engine needs the help. Work it hard between second and third, and the SS is a quick car. But not as quick as the FPV, which can gel by using just third and fourth, and a lot less revs. Performance mode can be too keen during cut-and-lhrust driving; it'll chop down a gear too many, and you'll run into traction issues, which we'll get to below.
So if all-out grunt is your tiling, the GS is the one. It has the V8 to impress your mates, even when giving them a strop around the block. But if you're more tile control freak, the Redline SS-V (see sidebar for details) will be more to your liking.
In the twists and turns, the SS-V has a more direct response to driver inputs than the FPV. The Holden's steering is a highlight; accurate, it relays plenty of information, so you can pick your spot on the road, knowing that the SS
Series IIVE has a smarter fascia design than before, and the ¡Q touch screen infotainment system lifts functionality. V-Series cars now get sat nav, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard fare, along with leather and dual-zone air conditioning. The FPV has a centre stack crowded with buttons, but ifs easy enough to use once you've familiarised yourself. Bluetooth, cruise control and auto lights are standard here, too. but not the reversing camera, which is optional, as is the leather (which we could live without). Although iPods integrate more seamlessly with the Ford, you can't get sat nav in the GS, and there's no Holden-mimicking hard-drive facility either.
As for fit and finish, neither leads the pack, but the Holden is marginally better in finish (nothing fell off) while the Ford uses slightly better materials.
The driving possie is a tad high in the GS. both vehicles have four-way-adjustable steering wheels with remote controls, but only the VE's light up at night. Vision is pretty good, although both could do with bigger side mirrors, and the VE's A-pillar is very fat.
In the back, the VE has more leg- and headroom, especially on entry, although the Ford's seats are comfier, thanks to extra padding both front and rear. No Isofix child-seat anchor points can bs found in either, but both have six airbags and five-star passenger-safety credentials. Each has a big boot, though the VE has no split-folding (a ski hatch doesn't cut it) or external boot release.
will point itself there without quibbling. The FPV's helm doesn't feel as aggressive on turn-in yet is still direct in action, even if it feels a little less connected to the road.
In terms of lean in bends, the Holden tracks on a more even keel. In the I:PV, you need to wait a moment for the big car to loan over, then it's ready to take its set into a comer. That said, it has plenty of corner adhesion but can't stick like the Holden with its wider track, heftier sway bars and lighter front-axle load. Here the SS-V is also helped by the lower centre of gravity of its more compact ohv V8. The latter's rear is tame, only struggling with power-on wheel-hop out of bumpy corners. The GS is better in this regard, as suspension compliance is never an issue - although traction can be. Where you can mash the throttle to the floor widiout much thought in the SS-V you need a defter touch in the GS, otherwise you can be stymied by the tempering action of the traction control. While it doesn't cut engine power abruptly, you can feel the torque flow reducing as the system tries to hold the beast back on its leash.
We thought that the harder FE3 suspension setup would be death to the ride comfort but it's not bad at all. Sporty, yes, but not harsh. The FPV feels softer on the go at speed and occasionally floaty, where the Holden is a bit bumpier; around town, however, there's not much between them. For sporty sedans, they are rather comfortable.
Come time to brake, the Ford has better initial feel, but the Holden will pull up faster when you stand on it, with less dive and better arresting power, as this upgrade gives improved feel and bite over the standard car. When given a workout, the stoppers on the FPV could do with more staying power.
Power or control?
So what it really comes down is control versus all-out power, and which of these you prefer. Call the SS-V Redline the car for those who can't warrant the greater spend on an IISV and its extra performance - which they'll seldom exploit fully anyway. The FPV is for the person that knows there is no such thing as too much power. While the control of the VE chassis is nice, the GS is an effortless performer and a great cruiser. In the end. power has indeed corrupted this decision. PC
72 new Zealand autocar
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