On the road
If you’ve ever driven a Leyland P76 V8 sedan then you have driven a Force 7V coupe. They’re kin in every way – the incredible roominess, the huge width of the car, the enormous bonnet stretching out before you, and the feeling of the whole thing not being screwed together quite the way you’d expect or want.
The driving position was very good, despite not having an adjustable steering column or height-variable driver’s seat. The soft-rimmed
steering wheel had a far nicer feel than the hard plastic P76 rim, but ergonomically it was the same nightmare with poorly placed switches that served more for the stylist than the driver. In this respect it was no worse than its competitors.
But it was a vastly different story on the road – the Force 7V was markedly superior to its competition and showed them up for what they really were – mediocre at best.
Its rack and pinion steering had a direct, positive feel to it that was very European and responsive, as was the ride/handling suspension compromise. Although understeer was the dominant characteristic, the big coupe could be very entertaining and safe in skilled hands. Turn-in was sharp with excellent feel at the rim of the wheel with good ‘seat of the pants’ feel coming through the suspension to tell the driver exactly what was going on at the four contact patches.
Braking was good, too, although the big coupe’s weight and the narrowness of the tyres stretched the disc/drum setup, but they felt good with a pedal that could be easily modulated to avoid lockup.
But the jewel in the Force 7V’s crown, and the P76 for that matter, was the aluminium alloy 4.4-litre V8 engine under the bonnet. Specially developed for Australia from the Rover (and ex-GM) 3.5 litre V8, it produced a handy144kW.
It was really an engine that possessed two characters. It had copious amounts of torque for the typically lazy Australian driver who either took the automatic option or dropped the manual gearbox in top gear and left it there; or it had the ability to rev freely into the 4500-5000rpm region with alacrity for the enthusiast driver. Either way, it was smooth and vibration-free, with well-matched ratios in the 4-speed manual ‘box. And the burbly exhaust made it a worthwhile aural experience!
Writing in Muscle Cars No. 2, Peter Robinson road tested a Force 7V and achieved a maxiumum speed of 172km/h, with a 0 - 110 km/h time of 12.3 seconds.