Ford GT 2017 review


Ford GT

The Ford GT doing what it does best – cornering on circuit

The new Ford GT is technically wonderful, brilliant to drive, and to be admired because it’s a £420,000 supercar from the people who usually bring you Fiestas

The new Ford GT was meant to be a Mustang, you know. A Mustang with which Ford would return to Le Mans in 2016 to have a crack at winning a class, some 50 years after it won the whole thing outright with the GT40. At least, that was the plan. The engineers called it Project Silver, after the Lone Ranger’s horse.Trouble is that, like Silver was a big nag, the Mustang is a big car, so it has a large frontal area, which is bad for aerodynamics and therefore bad for going fast. And the more Ford modified the Mustang for GT racing, the less of a Mustang it became, until they figured they’d never win a damned thing with it while it was recognisably a Mustang, and officially canned the project.At least, that’s how the story now goes. They say that the Le Mans project then became completely unofficial, a skunk-works outfit with fewer than 20 designers and engineers hidden in a design studio in a basement behind a padlocked door, determined not to let it go and coming up with an outline design for the rebirth of the GT instead, probably slipping some clay and wheels through on expenses as ‘new pencils’ or something.Certainly, it put a few noses out of joint when they eventually showed it to the whole design and management team, but the upshot was that they had designed the new GT. And, oh my: grandma, what a small frontal area you have.The GT, then – very much like the original GT40 and quite unlike the GT of 2005 – was designed primarily to go racing. But GT racing rules being what they are, if you’re not designing a top-pace LMP prototype, you have to make road versions. The GTE class is dominated by Porsches and Aston Martins and Ferraris and Corvettes – road cars converted for racing. The new GT isn’t quite like any of those, nor a Mustang. It’s long (4779mm) and low (1063mm, or 41.8in), and wide (2003mm in the body, 2238mm to the mirrors). Not that you’d know it was that wide from inside the cabin, which sits its occupants almost as close together as you would be in a Caterham. That’s not something that Aston Martin or Ferrari could do in a road car because you wouldn’t buy an Aston if you kept elbowing your passenger, but this isn’t fundamentally a road car. That’s a theme you might notice we keep coming back to.The passenger cell is a carbonfibre tub, light and stiff and with an integrated roll cage inside it at the point of production – something somebody making road-going GT cars wouldn’t, etc – behind which sits a 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6 Ecoboost engine, which drives the rear wheels via a Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. (The race car uses a different sequential ‘box.)The engine is interesting: yes, it’s boosted to 647bhp, but fundamentally it’s a pure Ecoboost unit, with 60% parts commonality with one fitted to Ford’s F-150 pick-up. (The quick Raptor F-150, but still, a pick-up.) That’s one of the ways Ford has justified the GT’s cost: it says racing will improve the breed. That old chestnut. With the GT41.8, I think it’s true.Because it’s a V6, the engine is relatively compact, wrapped close by bodywork, but the air into it takes a complicated route – coming in at the rear and channelling under the lower bodywork to the turbos, before being scooted back to the sides, up through those visible intercoolers, and then ducted across the buttresses to the inlet manifold.Ford tested the engine in a North American IMSA GT race car and discovered it kept blowing head gaskets and ruining heads. Its engineers modified it for racing and, to their credit, fed the expertise back into road car engine design, where the lessons now form part of the engine design rulebook.There are other race/road handovers, such as eight composite components in the GT’s chassis that are part of a development programme to reduce the cost and time taken to make lightweight materials. Today the GT, one day a Focus.And you’ve got to keep reminding yourself of these road car links, I think, otherwise the GT could be a hard thing to warm to, regardless of how good, objectively, it is. Because, well, isn’t it a bit cynical, a bit unfair? Totally in keeping with the rules, of course, and designed and made by very lovely people and everything. It’s just that it’s a perilous path to go down, should GT cars start to be designed as racing cars in the first place, rather than being race versions of road cars that you can see and buy.Look at it this way: GTE regulations have this thing called the Balance of Performance (BoP). It’s designed to equalise the top speeds of the cars and keep the competition fairer. And while the GT makes 647bhp in road trim, the BoP limits the GT’s power to less than 500bhp as a racing car. Yet it still wins. If the GT’s boost was allowed to be turned up fully, it’d be closer in speed to an LMP car than the rest of the GTE category. Of course, it would. Because it’s a flipping racing car. If I were racing an Aston GTE car, I might be a bit miffed.What that also means, though, is that there’s an inordinate amount of technical goodness to get immeasurably excited about. Would a pure road GT car be given a carbonfibre dashboard that is a structural component and also channels ventilation air through it? Would it get fixed seats with pedals that move instead, via a fabric pull strap? Would it be given a rear wing that not only moves up and down but also …read more

Source:: Autocar