Force 6 a tough one Bruce Newton, The Age, 21/03 The FPV Force 6 is a slight variation on an established theme, but in muscle-car-mad Australia it seems that's still enough to stop traffic. This car attracted stares and attention wherever it went. In recent times only the Chrysler 300C gangster saloon and the VE Commodore SS V have outdone it for stares. It seems that going milder rather than wilder - at least in appearance - strikes a resonance with some lovers of local performance cars. Force 6 is a much toned down, more sophisticated presence than its close relation, the Typhoon F6. The Typhoon is the turbocharged 4.0-litre six-cylinder sports sedan that FPV launched in 2005. Based on the XR6 Turbo, it gained notoriety because of reliability problems with its AP Racing twin-plate clutch. Once that was resolved, it proved to be an impressive sports sedan, certainly more capable than its kin, the 5.4-litre V8-powered GT. The Force 6 abandons the wilder body adornments of the Typhoon, ups the equipment and trim specification from XR to Fairmont Ghia level and - crucially - retains the brilliant drivetrain and chassis set-up. If it ain't broke . . . Think of the Force 6 and its close relation, the GT-based Force 8, as competitors for HSV's Senator Signature. Meanwhile, the Typhoon and GT (and its even more upmarket GT-P relation) compete with the HSV ClubSport and GTS. The Force 6 looks more luxurious and elegant than Typhoon. The test car was painted in a new blue called Neo, a colour set off beautifully by polished 19-inch alloy wheels. Chrome is also used around the body on the grille mesh, flutes on the side skirts, exterior mirror backs, badge script, fog lights and rear number-plate surround. A lip spoiler replaces the Typhoon's massive wing. They share the aluminium air-to-air intercooler for the engine sitting prominently in the lower front intake. Like all FPVs, it looks a lot like a Falcon. HSV does a far better job of separating the E Series from VE Commodore. Inside, the Force 6 goes upmarket compared to the Typhoon. Leather trim is standard, including a vivid red that goes with selected exterior paints. Other features include woodgrain dash inserts and suede-feel storage pockets. There's a strong linkage to the standard Falcon here too. The luxury feel was further diminished by a speaker on the parcel shelf vibrating badly. Apart from leather, additional equipment includes reverse-parking sensors and an eight-way powered driver's seat. Common items include four airbags, dual-zone climate control, traction control, six-CD audio, DataDot security and a full-sized spare tyre with alloy wheel. Missing are curtain airbags and stability control. Hopefully, when the all-new Orion Falcon is launched next year, these omissions will be rectified along with those other Falcon bugbears: small, narrow-opening rear doors and the lumpy boot with plenty of space in theory but not in reality. Force 6 also has some pricing versus value question marks. It is priced at $71,590, almost $10,000 more than the Typhoon auto. That's a lot more for a few extra trinkets, a more subtle exterior presentation and an almost identical cabin. But the Force 6 still isn't overpriced for what is a premium driving experience. It just underlines the Typhoon's sensational value. The drivetrain is an absolute star. Mated exclusively to the brilliant ZF 6HP26 six-speed automatic transmission, any suggestion of turbo lag is muted above idle. Instead, a press of the throttle is rewarded with a creamy, deep and almost overwhelming response. That's the result of the engine's ability to deliver 550 Nm of torque between 2000 rpm and 4250 rpm. Further up the rev range at 5250 rpm comes the 270 kW power peak. This engine loves a rev and will happily and quickly sweep beyond 6000 rpm. Such ability diminishes the challenge that obstacles present and help make the car a supreme pleasure to drive. You pay with high fuel consumption if you drive like this - officially claimed to be 13.0 L/100 km. Also note an appalling C02 emissions rate of 308 grams per kilometre. A well-tuned chassis ensures the engine's ability can be fully tapped. Brembo brakes provide sure stopping power with the aid of 19-inch Dunlop tyres. The rubber does get a little noisy on some surfaces but counteracts that by adding weight to the sometimes too-light Falcon steering. The ride is impressively balanced for a sporting sedan, even one with a luxury skew. And that is how the Force 6 emerges overall: immensely capable but not quite as hard-edged as its Typhoon team-mate. For some people its more subtle tones obviously appeal and they will pay whatever price necessary to own another small slice of Australian muscle car history. For the more objective, it's hard to justify considering the price impost, but it sill remains a memorable car. Good Brilliant engine and auto transmission Able chassis More subtle look than Typhoon Bad Questionable value versus Typhoon Falcon linkage too obvious Limits in rear seat access Boot size Nuts & Bolts Engine Size/Type 4.0-litre, turbocharged, DOHC, 24-valve, in-line 6. Power 270 kW at 5250 rpm. Torque 5500 Nm at 2000-4250 rpm. Transmission/Driven Wheels Six-speed automatic with sequential shift, rear-wheel drive. Turning Circle 11.0 m. Kerb Weight 1805 kg. Fuel Consumption 13.0 L/100 km. Wheels/Tyres 19 x 8.0-inch alloys, tyres 245/35 ZR19. Full-sized spare.