:article, cars, feature, ford, holden, motoring
It’s a war that has raged for decades. It’s a conflict that has divided families and friends. Both sides have fired their heavy artillery, but neither has landed the killer blow. This is the battle between Ford and Holden. Now the motoring rivalry that helped define our nation enters its next phase with one manufacturer unleashing its most powerful vehicle while its foe has created its most advanced vehicle.
Last year saw both Ford and Holden wheel out their biggest guns yet—the new FPV GT and the new HSV GTS E3, respectively. In the red corner is the HSV, and the first thing that strikes you is just how extreme the car looks. Some auto companies have spent millions of dollars on safety.
Volvo has poured plenty of cash into developing smart systems that can detect obstacles, such as pedestrians, and automatically stop the car to avoid a crash. HSV, on the other hand, has developed its own unique way to avoid hitting old ladies. Rumbling through the streets of Sydney, the bright yellow HSV GTS E3 sends people scurrying back from the curb as soon as it gets within earshot.
That grumble is thanks to the new bi-model exhaust that lets the 6.2-litre V8 roar. Add to that the snarling nostrils, outrageous flared guards and over-the-top black grille and there’s no questioning the latest HSV’s road presence. It doesn’t just say “Look at me!”, it says “Get out of my way!” Subtle isn’t a word in the vocabulary of the team at HSV HQ. And that’s a good thing.
It’s helped Holden build some of the most brilliant performance sedans, not just in Australia, but around the world. It was a HSV GTS that helped convince the bigwigs at General Motors in the USA that the Holden Commodore and Monaro were good enough for export.
In the UK, where the vehicles are sold under the Vauxhall badge, they are regularly compared with the more expensive German super sedans from Mercedes-AMG, BMW and Audi. For all the theatrics and seemingly simple design, HSV has developed some of the most technically advanced cars that money can buy.
The GTS already offers MRC (Magnetic Ride Control) and a state-of-the-art shock-absorber system borrowed from the iconic Chevrolet Corvette, but the E3 also packs HSV’s latest hi-tech toy: EDI (Enhanced Driver Interface). Basically, it’s a data-logging system similar to that found in modern racing cars.
It allows the driver to record and study everything from speed and revs to G-forces and the amount of slide through the corners. But the aggressive body kit and all the gizmos can’t hide the fact that HSV has lost power bragging rights to FPV. Ford’s new GT may not have so many clever toys, but it can lay claim to being the most powerful production car built in Australia today.
Its new supercharged 5.0-litre V8 pumps out 335kW, giving it a 10kW advantage over the Holden. FPV has ploughed all its development money into the new engine, mainly because its old 5.4-litre V8 was sent to the scrapheap after failing to pass strict new emission laws. While the basic 5.0-litre power plant comes from Ford America, the impressive supercharger is an all-Aussie addition.
It was developed in partnership with local engineering ace Ron Harrop, who has an extensive background in motorsport which includes driving for the Holden Dealer Team alongside the late, great Peter Brock.
The good news for FPV is that the new engine is awesome; it revs hard and pulls strongly. The bad news is that the engine is so powerful it overwhelms the rest of the car. The gearbox, clutch, brakes and steering just can’t keep up with all that grunt.
Which is the better car? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for, or what side of the battle lines you sit on. The Ford has the power advantage, but can’t make full use of it. Conversely, the Holden is technically brilliant and great fun to drive, but also confronting to look at.
The real winner, of course, is the car-buying public. With both sides desperate to constantly outdo each other, Holden and Ford have succeeded in pushing the design and performance of Australia’s iconic vehicles to new heights, to the benefit of all.
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