The Ford GT supercar shows us everything that the Blue Oval brand's Performance division is capable of. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at it.
A new low-volume assembly facility at Multimatic in Ontario, Canada assembles a very special car: the Ford GT. It's supposed to be the finest supercar that Ford has ever made - and it might just be that.
The Ford GT supercar will almost certainly be one of the rarest and most collectable Fords ever. The brand insists that only 250 will be made each year and there are no shortage of buyers, following 2016 track success which saw this car take first, third and fourth place in its class at the Le Mans 24 Hour race.
The car is the brainchild of the Ford Performance division, the people who've already bought us models like the Fiesta ST, the Focus ST and the Focus RS.
It's a successor to the GT model of the same name, launched in 2005. The latest car's styling harks back to that design, as well as to the Ford GT40 supercar from the 1960s. But it also has very much its own look and feel, with huge vents and buttresses that channel air to cool the car and improve aerodynamic grip at high speed.
We've yet to drive this car but on paper, the prospects look very promising. The 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine develops over 600PS and is based on the unit used in the Ford GT Le Mans race car, though Ford promises that the production powerplant has a wider power band, making it more useable on the road. The engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which Ford says offers "near-instantaneous gearchanges and exceptional driver control". As for performance, well it's likely that the Ford GT's 0-62mph time will be in the region of three seconds, while top speed will be in excess of 200mph.
Clever aerodynamics channel air coming into the nose of the car through large ducts running on either side of the passenger compartment, evacuating it all behind the engine. The result generates astonishing amounts of downforce. The brakes are carbon-ceramic, so they're ideal for the kind of heavy usage that owners will encounter on a race track. The suspension has also been designed with racing in mind and uses the same sort of technology and principles seen in Formula One.
Like its GT predecessors, this model features a mid-engined layout, meaning its engine is placed behind the seats, but ahead of the rear wheels. That gives it perfect weight distribution for balanced and stable handling. Bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres have been developed specifically for the car and are wrapped around 20-inch alloy wheels. The cabin's intended to be very tight-fitting. As Raj Nair, Ford's executive vice president of product development and chief technical officer, observes; "We saw how close together we could put the two passengers, then wrapped the cabin around them."
The GT features a digital instrument display to present information quickly and easily to the driver, like the glass cockpit in airplanes and race cars. The innovative 10-inch-wide digital instrument display is far advanced from the original Ford GT, when the cockpit was hardwired with a fixed set of analog gauges, buttons and knobs across the dashboard to address every situation. "Driver focus and attention are key with such high performance," said Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance Chief Engineer. "We've designed the GT with a sleek digital instrument display that changes depending on driving mode in ways that are important and usable to the driver."
You'll want to know about the price of this car - it's around £300,000 - but that's irrelevant because you can't buy one; not at the moment anyway. Ford received over 6,500 applications for models to be produced as part of the initial two year production run, granting cars to just a handful of lucky customers, only two of which are in the UK. However, the company has announced a further two years of production, so if you were among those who missed out, there might yet be hope.
Standard equipment includes leather seats, sat nav, climate control and the usual array of electric gizmos you'd expect on a supercar. Buyers get a choice of eight different paint colours and eight exterior striping options. Plus there are three options for trimming the front, rear and lower side panels. GT customers will be issued with a "unique order kit" which will allow them to physically piece together every part of their car. The kit includes paint colours, wheel options, brake calliper colours, interior material samples and racing stripes. Each kit contains five colour samples with removable stripes to bring the car's colour combinations to life. Small replica alloy wheels with different coloured brake callipers are also included.
If you're thinking of spending this amount of money on a supercar, you won't be very bothered about its running costs. Even if Ford quoted any (which it doesn't), the figures would be largely irrelevant since if you drive this car in the way intended, you'll constantly be achieving single-figure fuel figures, despite the EcoBoost engine technology.
The Ford GT is a statement of what its maker can do; all supercars are. But whereas the previous 2005 GT model was a somewhat unsuccessful would-be Ferrari-chaser, this more considered effort looks far more credible.
It'll be interesting to see whether Ford makes money on it; perhaps that doesn't matter. After all, the development costs of this model have probably already been paid for by the column inches of coverage it's generated since its announcement. If the objective was to change people's perception of what Ford is capable of, then the objective's been achieved; beautifully.