2017 Ford GT Review – America’s Supercar
Think of an exotic mid-engined super car, and you’re probably thinking of something Italian. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani… they’re all excellent guesses, but as it turns out, also entirely wrong. Although America has been out of the mid-engine super car race for quite a while, as some of you may know, something called the Ford GT40 dominated the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini back in the day. Henry Ford was to purchase Ferrari from Enzo Ferrari himself, but the Italian decided he wanted out at the very last minute. Exactly as he had annoyed Ferruccio Lamborghini before, he had angered Henry Ford this time. Ford lined up his best engineers and told them to come up with something which would humiliate Ferrari and beat them at their own game.
The end result was the incredible machine we now know as the GT40. In 1966 under the leadership of Caroll Shelby, three GT40s took home the Le Mans win for Ford, claiming a 1-2-3 finish. Fast forward some 40 years later, and we arrive at the first Ford GT. A road car built as a tribute to the original GT40. The GT demanded a skilled driver to be driven fast. With the right man behind the wheel though, it could shame any Ferrari or Porsche at the track. A 5.4-liter V8, a true six-speed manual and 550 horsepower sent to the rear wheels. Hard to imagine how Ford can top that. But they have. And boy is it good.
Ever since production of the first GT came to an end, rumors about a brand new one have been circulating the internet. Will it have a V8? Will it be a hybrid? How will it compare to the latest lineup of supercars? Everyone wanted an answer to these questions, and that’s exactly what we got in 2014. Ford confirmed development of a brand-new GT set to debut in 2015, instantly setting the automotive world ablaze.
Ford GT Exterior
When Ford introduced it back in late 2015, there was nothing like it on the market. You could argue a Ferrari is better looking or an Aston Martin is more elegant, but for sheer presence and awe factor, not a lot can match the GT even today. I mean just look at the thing? Where do you even start explaining all the crazy exterior details?
I suppose you have to start with that pointy front end. The similarities between the new GT and the original GT40 are definitely there. The mid-engine layout gives the car a wedge shape, which when combined with the sloped nose forms those traditional GT40 lines. The wide opening at the front bumper is cool, but not as cool as the vents taking up most of the front hood.
As you move towards the rear of the car things start to get even more interesting. For starters, there’s the jet fighter-shaped canopy, with a long sloping windshield and small side windows. It’s molded around a carbon-fiber cockpit which has an integrated roll cage inside its structure. No, seriously, the roll cage is a factory option and you can’t tell it’s even there from the inside. The GT is so rigid Ford took it to Le Mans without improving anything in terms of safety.
You then get to the rear quarter panels and take notice of those big buttress wings. Ford says they aid cooling and increase downforce, but who are they kidding, they just look cool don’t they? If I were to ask you to name me one car with flying buttresses right now you’d struggle for 5 minutes before giving up. Those things alone give the GT boasting rights no other car has.
Last but by no means least, we arrive at the rear end and the traditionally long overhang. There’s a large active wing integrated inside the bodywork which pops up and even acts as an air brake when needed, but you can’t see it when the car is standing still. The large, round rear taillights are complimented by two canon exhausts sitting in-line with the taillights themselves. Oh, let’s not forget the rear diffuser. It looks like it came straight out of a GT3-spec race car, and we absolutely love it.
Ford GT Interior
Although it’s incredibly aggressive and striking from the outside, the cabin of the GT is rather minimalistic and simple. Just the basics, nothing more and nothing less. Everything has been designed for maximum usability and control, something you definitely feel when in the driver’s seat. Speaking of the seats, we should mention that they’re fully integrated into the monocoque shell. This saves weight and gives the driver more feedback since he can basically feel everything going on through the chassis. Naturally, with a fixed seating position, you get adjustable pedals and an adjustable steering wheel, so people of all shapes and sizes can drive it.
The steering wheel in particular is what catches your eye as soon as you get in the GT’s cabin. Ford doesn’t have a Formula 1 team, but if they did, their steering wheel would look something like this. All of the vital car controls are mounted right on the steering wheel, opening up the entire steering column and freeing it from any unnecessary stalks. This means that the shift paddles are always accessible and easy to reach, something which is a definite must-have in such a fast car.
The instrument cluster is basically an LCD display which can be configured to display a lot of various information. The driver can select between a couple of different modes, all of which display different types of information and change the style depending on your driving, as well as preference. The driving position is perhaps the most overlooked component of any supercar. If you’re not comfortable inside the car, it won’t matter if it’s fast or brilliant in the corners. Luckily the GT is just that: comfortable and cozy. You sit low in the car, rather than on it. It may sound cliché, but it does feel as though you’re one with the machine.
Ford GT Engine & Performance
A naturally-aspirated V8 was out of the question for most people from the very beginning, but a lot of them thought we’d at least see a forced induction flat-plane crank V8 of some sort in the GT. Instead, Ford opted to use their trusty 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. It’s not your regular EcoBoost found in the F-150 though. The engine in the GT is a variation of the engine used in the IMSA Daytona Prototype endurance race car. Tuned with reliability and durability in mind, it still outputs 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque. Not quite in LaFerrari and 918 Spyder realm then, but still plenty fast.
Here are the numbers in a low down: 0-60 mph in well under 3 seconds and a top speed of 216 mph. Those figures are conservative though, because depending on its mode and the road conditions, the GT can perform even better. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, which is both fast and precise. We didn’t think anyone could build a dual-clutch transmission as well as the Germans, but Ford has. It’s not as inherently smooth as a PDK, but in terms of quickness, it’s up there with the best of them.
The GT really starts to come into its own when you throw it in a set of corners. It may offer a ton of downforce, but it doesn’t necessarily depend on it to perform. The levels of mechanical grip are astonishing. It feels as though the car is digging into the pavement, like the wheels are trying to rip the asphalt to pieces. This isn’t a car that corners like it’s on rails, this is a car that makes those rails for others to follow.
It’s neutral mid-corner, with a slight tendency to push on turn in. It will step out and oversteer if you really insist on it, but it’s not happy to do that. Your skill level has to be extremely high if you want to take it over the edge and dance with it. The Ford GT is a fast in fast out sort of car. With a Porsche 911 for example, you have to brake before the corner, turn in, then get on the power as soon as possible, making use of the rear-engine layout. The GT doesn’t care about corners. Any speed, any angle, it’ll just do it. It’s a master class in what a car is capable.
A lot of people are disappointed by the Ford GT because this American supercar can’t compete with European supercars such as the Porsche 918 Spyder, the Ferrari LaFerrari or the McLaren P1. You have to remember that it wasn’t designed to compete with those hybrid hyper cars though. The Ford GT is a rival to the likes of Ferrari’s 488 and Lamborghini’s Huracan, both of which it simply annihilates in terms of innovation, speed and excitement. If you still want something Italian for the looks or German for the build quality, by all means go for it, but as an overall package, the Ford GT is on another level.