Ford GT


Debut: 2017
Maker: Ford
Predecessor: GT (2003)



 Published on 14 Jun 2017 All rights reserved. 


Similar to Lexus LFA, the new Ford GT offers Ferrari and McLaren-level of performance, but costs double the price!


Until the 1990s, we called the fastest, maddest and most exclusive mid-engined sports cars as Supercars. Even though Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40 lifted the game higher again, they were still called supercars, the same as Ferrari Testarossa or Lamborghini Diablo. McLaren F1 was supercar again, ditto Jaguar XJ220, Bugatti Veyron… Strangely, these few years people suddenly call a Ferrari 458 as Supercars. The same goes for the small Lambo, Audi R8 or even the good old 911 Turbo that has been existing since 1975! Yes, they get even more powerful than yesterday’s supercars, but that is the way technology progresses, isn’t it? A 1954 Mercedes 300SL had only 215hp, but will you call today’s 245hp SLC300 as Supercar? Of course not! As time goes by, the standard should be lifted as well. In my opinion, Supercars always denotes the ultimate mid-engined sports cars. New terms like "Hypercars" should be shelved, otherwise you will need "Ultracars" not long later to denote the even faster cars available then, and then you will run out of terms.

So here in AutoZine, the likes of Ferrari 488GTB and Lamborghini Huracan are called Junior Supercars instead. Just a few years ago, the two Italian marques were the only contenders in a class of their own. Today, you will find many other alternatives – McLaren 720S and Honda NSX are the most direct rivals, but you may also count the slightly cheaper Audi R8 V10 Plus, 911 Turbo S, 911 GT3 RS and AMG GT R. If not already ran out of production, Lexus LFA would have been an interesting rival as well – it had adequate performance and handling to fight against the Italian exotics, but it cost double the price!

The new Ford GT has a market positioning similar to the LFA. Performance-wise, it is right in the ballpark of 488GTB, 720S or Huracan Performante, but it asks for an absurd $450,000 in its home market, or £450,000 plus tax in UK, compared with £183K after tax for the Ferrari, £209K for the McLaren or £213K for the Lamborghini. And this is from a company making your Fiesta, Focus or F-150 pickup! Who can swallow that? Strangely, among the 1000 cars slated for production in the next 4 years, 750 of them have already found buyers, and the rest are likely to be spoken for by the time you have finished reading this sentence. Sometimes I think the exotic car markets have gone too crazy! There are too many people having too much money, and not enough people care about the poverty.


It is designed to be a race car in the first place, then reverse-engineered to be a road car for sale...


You must remember the last, 2003 Ford GT. It was very much a GT40 reinterpreted as a modern road car. The new GT is very different. It is designed to be an endurance race car (mainly the GTE-Pro class of Le Mans and IMSA) in the first place, then reverse-engineered to be a road car for sale. This sounds like the Group B era, but the Le Mans and IMSA regulations are much looser, allowing the car to be raced first, then road car production follows. In this way, the new Ford GT won the Le Mans GTE-Pro class last June, but the first customer car was not delivered until very recently. Thanks to the lack of tight schedule, the road car development could be done properly, so it does not have the quality problems of Group B cars.

Interestingly, the development story of this car sounds like a carbon-copy of Jaguar XJ220's. In the late 1980s, a dozen of Jaguar engineers and designers used their spare time after office hours to start the XJ220 project. As they usually held meetings on Saturday, they were dubbed the “Saturday Club”. At Ford, the situation is slightly better. Ford Performance, the racing department, originally wanted to develop the Mustang into a GTE race car, but it realized that winning was a mission impossible without designing a brand new mid-engined car. Without getting the permission of the top management (i.e. Alan Mulally and Mark Fields), it gathered about 20 designers, modellers and engineers to work on the new car secretly. They worked in a locked basement and held meetings only after working hours and on weekends to avoid suspicion. The rest is history. No wonder when the car was unveiled in Detroit motor show in 2015, it caught everyone a surprise.



Front end has strong family resemblance to GT40, but the rest is driven by aerodynamics, more so than any road cars in memory.


The GT has a very exotic look, more so than Ferrari or Lamborghini perhaps, even more aggressive than the new McLaren 720S, especially its aerodynamic design. It is extremely wide at over 2 meters, obviously designed for track performance rather than roadability. It is also extremely low. In road condition, it is only 43.7 inches (1110 mm) tall, a full inch lower than Lamborghini Aventador or everything else in production. When Track mode is selected, its suspension will drop a further 50mm, and the car's height becomes 41.7 inch. Not quite a new GT40, but it is as close as you can get in a modern car.

Viewing from the front, the GT has strong family resemblance to the original GT40, but the rest of the car is driven by aerodynamics, more so than any road cars in memory. Like a Le Mans car, its passenger cell is very narrow – impossibly narrow for a 2-seater – and it gets slimmer as it extends towards the tail. As a result, the rear wheels are separated from the main body by a huge channel, allowing air to flow straight to the rear wing, improving drag and downforce. Meanwhile, the radiators of intercoolers are mounted outboard just ahead of the rear wheels to take advantage of clean air flow. A flying buttress bridge between the roof and each rear fender for reinforcement and improving aesthetic. Overall, the new GT looks edge-cutting sharp, impossibly low, wide and long. It is a stunning design, although not necessarily a beautiful design in conventional sense.

Undoubtedly, its smallish frontal area and the aforementioned air channels give it a strong advantage on track, no wonder it won Le Mans straightaway against its road car-based Ferrari, Aston, Porsche and Corvette rivals. Also helpful are flat underbody and active aerodynamic aids. Underneath the front overhang are 2 movable flaps, which can be raised and guide the underfloor air flow to pass over the suspension’s lower control arms and exit through the side vents just behind the front wheels. This creates ground effect and generates downforce. Meanwhile, the hydraulic-actuated rear wing not only rises and tilts, but it also incorporates movable foils at its trailing edge to alter the profile of the wing. For top-speed run, the rear wing and suspension are lowered, reducing drag coefficient to 0.35 – sounds unremarkable, but don’t forget this is a track car.


The rear wheels are separated from the main body by a huge channel, allowing air to flow straight to the rear wing, improving drag and downforce.


While the car’s design and early development was carried out in-house, detailed development of the chassis and handling was assigned to Canadian engineering and motorsport firm Multimatic. In fact, Multimatic is half the parents of the car, as it is also responsible for its assembly and running its GT racing program. You might remember, Multimatic built the carbon-fiber chassis of Aston Martin One-77, so it is not a surprise that the GT employs its carbon-fiber tub, completed with steel rollcage (which meets FIA standards) and front and rear aluminum subframes. All outer body panels are carbon-fiber, unlike Ferrari and McLaren which use primarily aluminum skins (also chassis in the case of Ferrari). This partly explains its high price, but it also implies costly repair in case of damage.

However, what makes the GT like a race car is its suspension. It is the only car in its class to employ inboard-mounted springs and dampers, operated via pushrods and very long forged double-wishbones in each corner. Supercars like Koenigsegg, Pagani or Lambo Aventador have similar features, but they use it for reducing height or unsprung weight. Instead, the Ford GT uses it to make space for the aforementioned air channels between the rear wheels and main body. Another novel feature is DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers, which are also made by Multimatic (what a multi-talented company!). It is known for the capability of fine tuning. The last Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 also used DSSV dampers, but on the GT, it is electronically instead of manually adjustable. Furthermore, the GT’s suspension is adjustable for 2 ride heights. To that end, it employs 2 springs each corner – one coil spring and one torsion bar. When Track mode is engaged, the coil spring is hydraulically compressed and locked, dropping the ride height by 50mm while doubling the spring rate. It sounds like McLaren P1 but implemented by different means.



The suspension features 1 coil spring and 1 torsion bar (both green), while damper is DSSV (blue). Flat wishbones are wind cheating.


As for engine, I would be happy if Ford made a turbocharged version of its high-revving V8 on Mustang GT350, but when the target is to make the most of Le Mans regulations, which caps the output at 500hp, a V6 turbo seems to be more sensible in terms of weight and packaging. Ford found its existing 3.5-liter direct-injection twin-turbo provides the best package, as its 60-degree angle fits nicely into the narrow engine compartment. Ridiculously, the unit is based on the one employed by F-150 Raptor, with 60 percent parts shared. However, it is converted to dry-sump lubrication to lower its center of gravity and keep oiling effective at high g-force. Most of the internals have been replaced with better components. The fuel injection incorporates both direct and port injection. Maximum turbo boost pressure is unknown, but it should be very high, as its specific output of 185hp/liter is even higher than those of Ferrari 488GTB (171hp/liter) and McLaren 720S (180hp/liter) ! As for absolute figure, its 647 hp output trails the Ferrari's 670 hp a little, if some way off the new McLaren's 720 hp.

On the downside, the maximum horsepower of the Ecoboost V6 happens at an unexotic 6250 rpm, and it won’t spin beyond 7000 rpm, a full thousand revs lower than its rivals. Meanwhile, the maximum torque of 550 lbft comes a little late at 5900 rpm, although the company claims 90 percent of that, or 495 lbft, is available from 3500 rpm. Hey, the Ferrari V8 delivers its full 560 lbft from 3000 rpm! Anyway, this is the most powerful 6-cylinder engine in the world until the forthcoming Porsche 991 GT2 RS. While it is out-cylindered by its rivals, it reminds us the late Jaguar XJ220, which also employed a 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo.

To address turbo lag issue, Ford gives it a so-called “anti-lag” function. Although it did not elaborate, normally this term means when you back off briefly, the engine will keep the throttle butterfly opening but cut fuel and ignition, so that air will continue to pass through the combustion chambers and keep the turbine spinning until you re-engage throttle. Mind you, Porsche has a similar feature called “Dynamic Boost” in the 991.2 Turbo. In Ford GT, the anti-lag is said to reduce the response time at 3000 rpm from 1.2 to 0.7 second.



V6 turbo is chosen to fit Le Mans regulations. Cockpit is cramped.


Power goes through a Getrag 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox (the same as Ferrari’s) and a Torsen LSD to the rear wheels. Sadly, there is no active diff, so it is not going to do sideway as deliberately as Ferrari. As a track car, the GT focuses on cornering grip and speed instead of counterproductive slides. To that end, it wears Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubbers with immense sizes – 245/35ZR20 front and 325/30ZR20 rear, the latter is 20mm wider than its Ferrari and McLaren counterparts. As expected, braking power comes from standard Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, with 6-piston calipers serving 394mm discs up front and 4-piston calipers clamping 360mm discs at the rear.

A little bit disappointing is the dry weight of 1385 kg, which is 15 kg more than the figure quoted by 488GTB (although Ferrari is usually optimistic) and a massive 102 kg heavier than McLaren 720S. Moreover, this is already the car fitted with “Competition pack”, which has the air-con, infotainment, audio and cup-holders ditched, the glass engine window replaced with plexiglass, the rear bulkhead window replaced with lighter Gorilla glass, and fitted with expensive carbon-fiber wheels and titanium exhaust. The regular road-going GT weighs a further 60 kg. For a car with carbon-fiber chassis and skins and a V6 engine instead of V8, it is difficult to explain. Still, Ford claims a class-leading top speed of 216 mph, while 0-60 mph is expected to be inseparable from its rivals.

On the Road

The GT’s cockpit is as difficult to access as those of old-school supercars. It has butterfly doors, but they don’t open the roof like McLaren 720S, so the door apertures are small and you have to cross the very wide sills to drop into the seats. To let them mounted lower, the seat cushions are fixed to the carbon-fiber tub like LaFerrari, but the backrests are not, and they can be adjusted for rake. The pedal box and steering wheel are manually adjustable to suit different driver sizes. Once you are in place, you will find how cramped this cockpit is – it is as narrow as Lotus Elise, so you have to rub shoulders with your passenger, while headroom is even tighter than Lotus. It won’t fit guys over 6ft 2in, blame to the ultralow roof. Naturally, the cockpit feels quite claustrophobic. Front view is good, but side, rear quarter and rear views are limited. Despite exposed carbon-fiber and Alcantara everywhere, the interior design is more functional than attractive. You will also notice some switchgears and buttons sourced from Ford’s parts bin. The steering wheel is overcrowded with buttons, but unlike Ferrari, without Magnetino-style rotary switch for easy access to driving modes. In terms of luggage space, what luggage space? There is only a laughable 11-liter storage compartment located between the engine and the exhaust. Yes, 11 liters, not 110 liters. Not sure if it is enough for a crash helmet.



It combines the ride of a proper road car and the handling of a track car...


Fortunately, the GT is built to drive, not to carry. Start the V6, at first you will be disappointed with an exhaust note that sounds gruff and industrial. Not unlike an F-150 actually. Give it more work to do and its soundtrack improves gradually. In Sport and Track mode where anti-lag function is activated, the turbos show little lag, a remarkable achievement for such a highly boosted engine. Throttle response is quick, too. The power delivery is more linear than many other turbocharged rivals, as there is no explosive mid-range to shock you. It feels stronger from 3000 rpm, and then a second kick comes at 5500 rpm. From there to the 7000 rpm redline is its show time. Is it fast? Yes, but probably not as punchy as its Ferrari or McLaren rivals. No one has measured its real-world performance yet, but I guess it will do 0-124 mph in high-8-seconds range, whereas 488GTB and 720S manage in 8.3s and 7.8s respectively. Near the upper end of its rev range, the noise is certainly more interesting than that in idle, but still it is more business-as-usual than sonorous, or lacking the angry bark of some rivals. Admittedly, V6 is not a good layout for sound quality.

The Getrag 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox is good. Upshifts are lightning quick and downshifts are well matched with revs. However, Ferrari’s gearshifts feel a tad more incisive. Mind you, the race car employs a single-clutch sequential box instead. Maybe it is why the road car didn’t spend enough time to fine tune its mapping like Ferrari.

On public roads, the GT also feels a tad slower than its rivals given a long stretch of straight. On the plus side, its suspension rides surprisingly comfortable in Normal mode. Not quite as supple on rough surfaces as the hydraulic-suspended McLaren, but its body is better controlled, showing superior composure and lack of roll in corners. It combines the ride of a proper road car and the handling of a track car, which is perhaps its biggest achievement. It feels remarkably agile and willing to turn. The hydraulic-assisted steering is fast (2.5 turns lock-to-lock), linear, weighty and accurate, if not the most feelsome. The fat Cup tires produce phenomenal grip. On public roads, the car just steers as you point, without understeer or oversteer to speak of. Its cornering limit is so high that you will need a track to overstep. The only real weakness is braking. While it is powerful, the brake pedal feels soft at the top of its travel, so under light loads it is quite difficult to modulate smoothly.


Without an e-diff, you need to be smooth with your inputs, just like a racing driver should, and the car will obey your commands precisely.


On the downside, the car does feel too wide for public roads. You are always aware of its width and therefore difficult to exploit its handling as hard as it could. Passing through single-lane country roads will need special care not to touch the opposite cars. In terms of refinement, unfortunately, the good ride quality is offset by high noise level. After all, this is pretty much a car designed for racing in the first place, so its sound insulation and NVH engineering are scarce. Its cabin is filled with all sorts of noises and vibrations – wind, tire, resonance from the exhaust at certain revs, the shocks when the rear wing is raised or lowered, the odd noises when something hits the bottom of the car, steering kickback on rough surfaces… At 70 mph, the cabin is so loud that you need to shout to your passenger. Besides, the high fuel consumption limits its traveling range, and the lack of luggage space means cross-country travel would not be an option. All these mean the Ford GT is not a very good road car, unlike the 2003 model.

However, the GT is born for track. Its low ride height in Track mode, its superior grip, balance, composure and agility make it hard to be beaten by any road-legal machines – it will be interesting to see how it is compared with McLaren 720S. Its linear power, which might feel undramatic on highway, becomes a great companion for attacking corners, flowing from one to another. Here on track you can push the car so hard to reveal its slight understeer at the limit. Feed more power and it will run gently into oversteer. Lift the throttle abruptly in fast corners will tighten its line. Without an e-diff, you need to be smooth with your inputs, just like a racing driver should, and the car will obey your commands precisely. Applying throttle too aggressively could slide its rear and trigger the electronic safety net to intervene, but this is still a car rewarding smooth, measured driving style. A 911 GT3 or Ferrari 488 would be more forgiving and more entertaining to abuse on track, but the Ford is certainly faster and more precise. In other words, more like a race car.

That is not a bit surprise to us though.
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis

Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout
Suspension features

Tires

Kerb weight

Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
0-124 mph (sec)
0-150 mph (sec)
GT
2017
Mid-engined, RWD
Carbon-fiber tub, aluminum subframes, steel rollcage.
Carbon-fiber
4765 / 2005 / 1110 mm
2710 mm
V6, 60-degree
3497 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI
647 hp / 6250 rpm
550 lbft / 5900 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
All: double-wishbones
DSSV elect. adjustable dampers, 2-position ride height/spring rate
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 325/30ZR20
Comp: 1385kg dry / est 1485kg kerb
Road: 1445kg dry / est 1545kg kerb
216 mph (c)
2.8 (c)
-
-
-




























































Performance tested by: -




AutoZine Rating

GT



    Copyright© 1997-2017 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine