Test: HSV GTS vs. FPV GT-P
Review by Feann Torr - 3/September/2008
In another life, the GTS and GT-P could have been best mates.
The range-topping Holden Special Vehicles and Ford Performance Vehicles
models have a similar background: both trained to be top form athletes, both
have 8-cylinder engines, 6-speed gearboxes and rear-wheel drive
of all they've got similar attitudes and are highly adept at the
forbidden art of the doughnut, but what makes these duels most
interesting is the history.
family rivalry that stretches back decades, and has
been immortalised by the likes of Brocky, Moffat, Skaife and
Lowndes, screaming down Mount Panorama's conrod straight.
It was started by their Ford
and Holden ancestors more than half a century ago... And this rivalry has never been so intense.
handful of months before Ford Performance Vehicles released the details
for its second generation FG Series in 2008, Holden Special Vehicles
revealed that its new models would output 317kW of power; HSV's spies
knowing full well that FPV had tuned its V8s to belt out 315kW.
Guess who gets bragging rights for the next 12 months? Not FPV...
the fans from both sides of this decades-old war will claim victory for
myriad reasons, we're impartial judges, and our aim is to find out
which car is faster, which one is more rewarding to drive, and
ultimately which car is the best. Let the trials begin...
Make: Holden Special Vehicles (HSV)
Transmission: 6-speed (automatic or manual)
Engine: 6.2-litre, Vee 8-cylinder, petrol
Safety: 6 airbags (driver and front passenger front + side, plus curtain airbags) ABS, ESP, T/C
Car Supplier: Holden Special Vehicles
Make: Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV)
Transmission: 6-speed (automatic or manual)
Engine: 5.4-litre, Vee 8-cylinder, petrol
airbags (driver and front passenger front + side), ABS, DSC, T/C
Car Supplier: Ford Performance Vehicles
Drive: HSV4.25/5 FPV4/5
Holden Special Vehicles GTS vs Ford Performance
Vehicles GT-P : Australia's pre-eminent muscle cars
The HSV GTS packs 6.2-litres of in-your-face muscle,
and thanks to Magnetic Ride Control it handles well
FPV's GT-P doesn't have the advanced chassis of
the HSV, yet often felt more balanced at the limit
The big guns of the Australian motoring landscape
make their way cross country like asphalt assassins
The HSV GTS relies on brute force to go fast
Both cars get performance body kits, and in the
straight line drag the HSV wins - but only just
The HSV GTS has bigger lungs and likes to run,
but the FPV isn't far behind (and sounds better)
face it, HSV and FPV have made their reputations on their high
performance powerplants, so the most important criteria when conducting
a comparo between two of
Australia's most powerful performance sedans is straight line
car can claim traffic light bragging rights?
HSV GTS is slightly quicker in the sprints, and ends up almost half a
car length in front to an indicated 100km/h from standstill.
claims the zero to 100km/h dash takes less than 5.0 seconds, but in
reality its more like 5.7 seconds. FPV doesn't supply any figures, but
around 5.8 seconds is where it ends up.
Performance Vehicle's GT-P is the newer of the two rivals so you'd
reckon it should be faster. It nips at the HSV's heels, but isn't quite
as forceful. When you consider the HSV has almost a full litre of
engine displacement over the Ford, it
puts things into perspective somewhat.
Both cars weigh
around 1.8 tonne, and the
FPV is equipped with a 5.4-litre donk and the HSV gets a 6.2-litre
mill. At the end of the day size does matter.
First stop: HSV - 15.5L/100km | FPV - 16.5L/100km
On our way to the hills, the FPV appears to be less efficient.
Okay, straight line
performance is one thing, but the real test of a performance car is the way it reacts round corners.
Cut to the chase, and the HSV is
again slightly faster through corners, but it isn't quite as rewarding to drive.
cars track adroitly through corners at speed, but the FPV GT-P is a
touch smoother and the front-end feels a bit keener when push
comes to shove. It's also less affected by uneven road surfaces.
you're a racetrack regular however, then the HSV would probably be the weapon
of choice, and it's MRC (magnetic ride control) system that allows you
to harden up the ride and reduce body roll at the press of a button is
an incredibly useful tool.
Still, there are things about the HSV GTS that make it less desirable to drive than the FPV GT-P.
the steering for instance. The HSV has decent feedback and the power
steering system is fairly precise too which allows you to guide the
car through corners cleanly and accurately, but when you jump
into the FPV you realise that there's a more progressive and more
involving drive on offer.
said, the FPV did suffer from the same steering rack rattle that
affects the new BF range, but only through bends with really rough patches of asphalt.
GTS feels tied to the road and has plenty of rear end grip, but the
vehicle's most impressive aspect it the way it accelerates.
the tachometer needle dances above 4000rpm, the GTS is like a
missile, pinning you into your seat with calculated
vehemence, while the deafening engine roar in the cabin only adds
to the sensation.
Not half as loud from the
drivers seat, the FPV nevertheless has a sonorous engine note, and
though it doesn't accelerate quite as vociferously, it's still a very
angry street machine with plenty of menace.
While the HSV is more powerful and feels well planted through corners and changes direction with less body roll,
the FPV felt like it had a stronger mid-range and also took less effort to drive at a similar level.
FPV feels like a
slightly quicker vehicle point-to-point mainly because of its less
abrasive power delivery and as such you won't burn as many
kilojoules cranking up the wick on this one.
HSV's chassis engineers have done a good job with the suspension, because the front end tucks in
nicely (when using the track mode MRC) despite the huge weight of the LS3 hanging over the front axle.
while the HSV is decisive, the FPV is intuitive. It's nose feels a
lighter and it also exhibits similarly impressive turn-in
characteristics, even without MRC magic. The FPV does have a touch more
body roll however.
Second stop: HSV - 17.9L/100km FPV - 19.2L/100km
Early into the performance testing and the smaller FPV engine is drinking yet more fuel.
The FPV GT-P comes across as the smoother vehicle overall, and more
refined. It has a more sophisticated feel to the way it drives - both at the limit and when cruising.
also quite a bit
of difference in the seating positions which makes a bit of difference
to how you pilot these muscle cars. In the HSV you feel as though you
sit on top of it, while the FPV has a higher window line and you feel as
though you sit in it instead of on it.
I preferred the FPV's seating position, but this will come down to
taste and shorter people will probably gravitate towards the HSV.
I think the Ford Performance Vehicles GT-P is a more involving drive,
despite the lack of a dual stage dampers. The steering has a bit more
weight, a bit more feedback, and is slightly more direct.
Third stop: HSV - 20.2L/100km FPV - 20.5L/100km
After several hours of full throttle driving, the difference is less apparent.
The FPV's rear suspension is better
too, particularly under part throttles mid-corner. It's
rear end is more talkative and you can feel what it's doing and even
what it wants to do when you're setting a cracking pace,
whereas the GTS is slightly harder to read.
it comes to blasting out of corners under full throttle however, the
FPV has grip issues. Or rather it doesn't have enough of it! Sitting on
big 19-inch alloy wheels, the FPV comes standard with 245/35 aspect
ratio tyres front and rear, which is not quite enough tyre width
to contain the 551 Newton metres of torque slamming their way along the
The HSV meanwhile 20-inch alloy
wheels shod with 245/35 front and 275/30 rear tyres, which gives the
rear end more traction when charging out of corners.
the story rear-end grip doesn't end there... Not yet. The final
part of the story comes down to stability control, and in this
respect the FPV takes the honours.
the FPV GT-P's traction control kicks in more often when you're going
at it hammer and tong, the software is more advanced and this means
it's more subtle
when it does kick in, and half the time you can't even tell it's
working, even under full throttle.
of our performance testing took place during wet weather, so the
stability control systems became a vital part of the test, and the HSV didn't score as highly in this respect.
though the GTS's traction nannies don't fire as frequently because it
has more rear wheel grip, you are made well aware when they do and the
traction control intervenes with less subtlety, hampering your rhythm
when you're really pushing it.
Of course there is the
option to switch off stability control, and at this point it's a much
closer race. Both cars can be steered with the throttle, but again the
FPV has a bit more balance, a bit more poise at full tilt.
Fourth stop: HSV - 19.2L/100km FPV - 19.1L/100km
slowed the tempo slightly after lunch (full belly syndrome), and for
the first time in the test the FPV is averaging lower fuel consumption.
story so far? Straight line speed goes to the HSV, overall
cornering goes to the HSV, but driver involvement and satisfaction go
to the FPV.
Brakes? HSV again, but only by a hair. Our GTS test
car had a bit more initial bite with its AP Racing brakes, and though
the Ford model gets high quality Brembo calipers, it has smaller discs.
HSV GTS is fitted with visually appealing vented and slotted 365mm
front and 350mm rear discs, while the FPV GT-P gets vented 355mm fronts
and 330mm rear discs.
Both brakes have a so-so feel, mainly because
they're large cars carrying a lot of bulk, but in terms of stopping
power they both decelerate relatively rapidly and do instill confidence.
Ford Performance Vehicle's GT-P is a better cruiser because finding its
torque peak doesn't require as much courage.
While the HSV has a larger
lung capacity, you have to work it harder to get the power out of it;
strangely the larger engine is the revvier of the two. Go figure...
Final stop: HSV - 18.7L/100km FPV - 18.4L/100km
It started well for the HSV, but the FPV walked away with the economy trophy.
paper the HSV GTS bests the FPV GT-P in most respects, but on the road
it is a much tighter ball game, and during our test neither car left
the other in its wake.
While HSV is slightly quicker and feels hunkered down when cornering,
the FPV takes less effort to drive at a similar level. It feels like a
slightly quicker vehicle point-to-point mainly because of its smoother
power delivery and though there is more body roll in the FPV the weight transition as it changes direction is more progressive.
It really is a tough call between these two cars as
to which one is a better drive. Ultimately
I think it comes down
to your definition of 'better'. If better means fastest and
loudest, then it's the HSV. But if you're idea of better means a
progressive and satisfying drive, then you'll want to test drive the FPV first.
version 2.0 of the FPV GT-P is hard to fault, making significant and
numerous improvements over the model it replaces, and in many ways
it's a better car to drive than the HSV. But in terms of pure
performance, the HSV GTS is still king of the hill. But only just...
Engine: HSV4/5 FPV4/5
may never fall to the levels we we were accustomed to in the
past, but that doesn't stop these V8 beasts from being any less enjoyable. Just more expensive to run...
Socially acceptable they may not always be, but there is something primordially satisfying opening the throttle from 60km/h.
on acceleration in both these 8-cylinder brutes is sensational and
makes overtaking a form of stress relief, able to rocket past slow
moving vehicles in seconds.
the HSV has a few more herbs, there's very little between then in terms
of real-world performance, but there is a lot of difference in how
they feel and how they sound.
Generation IV engine is a 6.2-litre V8 that adheres to
the old school ethos of more cubes = more power. It's got
rudimentary engine technology, using push rods with just 2-valves per
cylinder, but it's such a large block that it doesn't really matter,
and at full tilt shifts the GTS's weight with ease.
Boss 315 engine has a much smaller capacity, just 5.4-litres, but
because it uses contemporary components (except for the cast iron block...) such as quad overhead
camshafts instead of push rods, and 4-valves per cylinder instead of 2,
it can generate just as much poke from smaller pistons.
6.2-litre engine has effortless torque right across the rev range, as
does the FPV's engine, but the latter has a more accessible midrange
punch that helps it slingshot out of corners with less effort.
really have to rev the HSV to get the same kind of propulsion out of
corners, and it's not until the engine speed reaches 4000rpm that the
HSV begins to pull away from the FPV.
We did some inside-outside sound tests and the results were surprising.
FPV sounds like a toned-down V8 Supercar from the cabin, quite smooth
and slightly electronic and fairly resonant when the revs rise, while
the HSV is just plain loud and lumpy right from early in the rev range.
from outside the difference was almost completely the opposite. On
approach you can hear the deep rumble of the HSV's engine with a fair
bit of induction roar, but as it passes you the exhaust note is flat
and overly silenced.
FPV meanwhile makes the most of its SAM system, or semi-active muffler.
This system uses pressure to compel a valve to open in the rear muffler
when the revs pass a certain point, which then changes the exhaust note.
not as loud as the HSV upon approach, but as it passes you the exhaust
note is almost twice as loud, with a powerfully
sonorous exhaust note as it passes you under full throttle.
It sounds very aggressive, and barks angrily between gear
changes, particularly 1st and 2nd.
With an after market
pair of headers, the FPV would sound mightily impressive, and a new set
of freer flowing silencers would do the HSV a world of good, giving
voice to its hard charging LS3 engine.
While neither of these cars is particularly fuel efficient,
terms of fuel efficiency, neither of these cars is frugal. In fact
their pretty costly to run, but such purchases are usually made with
the heart, not the head.
When cruising on the freeway at
100km/h in 6th gear, both engines tick over @ 1600rpm, which can result
in half decent mileage on long hauls. It's when you start attacking
corners and whacking the loud pedal repeatedly that things get
If you're a true-blue Aussie patriot, you can't go
past the FPV though. It's 5.4-litre 'Boss 315' V8 is made in Australia,
and the HSV's LS3 is imported from North America.
Engine: GM Holden LS3 6.2-litre V8
Engine: Ford Boss 315 5.4-litre V8
longitudinally mounted 6.2-litre (6162cc) V8 engine has an aluminium
alloy cylinder head and engine block. The
includes 2-valves per cylinder (one inlet, one exhaust) actuated by gear-driven push rods (OHV).
The engine prefers 98 RON high octane petroleum fuel, and the HSV GTS has a 73 litre
fuel tank capacity.
Max Power: 317kW @ 6000rpm
Max Torque: 550Nm @ 4600rpm
Max Speed: 280km/h (approx.)
0-100km/h: 5.7 seconds
mounted 8-cylinder engine has a 5.4-litre (5408cc) capacity,
alloy cylinder heads and cast-iron engine block. Chain-driven quad
overhead cams (DOHC) actuate a total of 32-valves (4-valves per cylinder).
The engine will accept
95 RON unleaded petrol (but prefers high octane 98) when filling
the 68 litre
Max Power: 315kW @ 6500rpm
Max Torque: 551Nm @ 4750rpm
Max Speed: 280km/h (approx.)
0-100km/h: 5.8 seconds
Exterior: HSV4.25/5 FPV4/5
The orange GT-P attracted the most attention
at first, but overall the HSV was more appealing
The FPV GT-P has a high quality feel to the
interior, with all the mod cons you could want
The HSV GTS has a bit more of the bling effect,
but overall its not as well crafted as the GT-P
a man on the street. He's looking intently at the HSV GTS
but doesn't have a moment for the FPV GT-P. At the time I was
curious about this bloke, because I thought the new FPV was miles ahead
of the HSV in terms of exterior design.
the newer car after all, it has black appliques on the front apron, it
has a power bulge on the bonnet, and the HSV GTS hasn't really changed
since it came in 2006.
But at the end of
the test, I think my curiosity for this random bloke on the street,
besotted with the sight of the GTS's hexagonal 20-inch rims, LED brake
lights and pumped wheel arches, was nothing more than a misplaced
The FPV GT-P is not ugly, it's
no bag of smashed crabs, but overall I think the HSV does indeed have a
more appealing aesthetic. It's got a lot of machismo, while the FPV is
more smooth style and substance.
actually quite impressive how the visual styles of these cars mimic how
they drive: the HSV is big and bold, and attacks corners like
jackhammer, while the FPV is more progressive and perhaps even a bit
But hey, that's just my take.
really do like what FPV has done with the new FG Series, and the decals
on our orange test car were especially attention-grabbing, but overall
I think the HSV does a better job of communicating its performance
Both models have dangerously
body kits that do have a tendency to scrape on the driveway, and these
are comprised of unique front and rear aprons, stylised side skirts,
rear wings and also bespoke exhaust pipes.
FPV sits on 19-inch alloy wheels which suit the car well, but it's the
HSV's dynamic 20-inch hoops that really catch the eye and set off the car's aggressive style.
Interior: HSV3.5/5 FPV4/5
There is no ambiguity, no blurring of the lines when it comes to interior fitouts. The FPV is the clear winner in this category.
Simply put, it's the car that everyone wanted to sit in and drive at the end of the test.
like you're driving a higher quality car; the way everything feels and
the way things move, from the electric windows to the electric seats,
the indicator stalk and even the hand brake, everything feels a bit
The HSV GTS is by no means a
sloppy mode of high octane transport, with all the sports and comfort
features you could want - it's just that the GT-P does it better.
there's one criticism to be levelled at the FPV, it's that the cabin
feels a little tighter than its rival and not quite as airy. Though
there's plenty of room for larger drivers, the steering wheel feels a
bit lower and doesn't extend as high as the HSV's.
There are a couple of other areas where the HSV comes up trumps, such as the performance pods (battery charge, oil
pressure etc) that are mounted on top of the dashpad that add a keen performance to the cabin. The FPV's 'sports'
instruments are located within the main instrument cluster.
The HSV GTS's horn is also a lot louder, and it has better steering
wheel controls that feature intuitive scrolling wheels and buttons. The
FPV has only buttons, and takes long to cycle through menu options and
radio stations etc.
But overall the FPV GT-P is a comfier and more impressive vehicle to spend time in.
don't get the perched-up feeling that the HSV sometimes conveys and the
FPV's in-car systems are streets ahead of its rivals, starting with
things like the reversing camera - which comes in very handy thanks to
the large rear wing - and the intuitive menu system.
both models feature high resolution colour LCD screen integrated into
the centre consoles, with secondary information screens tucked away in
instrument clusters, but the fact of the matter is that FPV's equipment
is newer and better.
FPV has better trim levels, slightly better ergonomics overall,
better placement of controls, and it also has the superior stereo
The FPV GT-P wins again. While both cars could do with
more lateral bolstering, (or a pair of Recaros) especially
considering how much lateral G-forces they can generate, the FPV GT-P's
more snug than the HSV, and a bit deeper too.
FPV's seats and door trimmings look pretty spiffy with exposed
stitching and while the HSV features coloured coded interiors, which
may look cooler in some instances, it doesn't have the quality feel of
the FPV model.
Both cars have huge
amounts of interior space, enough to transport five people and their
luggage in comfort, and with safety systems like stability control, six
airbags and the biggest brakes
Overall: HSV4.25/5 FPV4/5
was one of the closest comparos we've ever conducted at the Motoring
Channel. It was a very close call, but at the end of the day the HSV
GTS nosed ahead.
Though the Ford
Performance Vehicles GT-P is newer and in a lot of ways more satisfying
to drive, the HSV has the edge in terms of outright performance. And
ultimately, that's what we're judging these cars on.
If you couldn't get on the waiting list for the W427, don't fret because the GTS is almost as good, minus a few ponies.
MRC system is one of the keys to the Holden Special Vehicles GTS's
success. Being able to switch between 'normal' and 'track' modes at the
touch of a button is a huge boon for the HSV, giving it a smooth ride
for cruising, and also a much stiffer, more responsive feel when you
want to blast away the cobwebs.
have learned from this comparo is that Ford's Boss V8 still has a lot
of life left in it, and can compete closely with HSV's Corvette-sourced
LS3 engine, which is incredibly impressive.
clash of the titans showed that both cars are at the top of their
game, and for what you pay you get a lot of performance equipment.
At the end of the day, neither the FPV nor HSV muscle car will disappoint.
- Magnetic Ride Control (MRC)
- Exterior Design
- Brutal V8 Power
- Fuel Economy
- Light Steering
- Seating Position
| FPV GT-P
- Progressive Performance
- Upmarket Interior
- Involving Handling
| FPV GT-P
- Slight Body Roll
- Fuel Economy
- Steering Rack Rattle
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