What Car? says...
That this supercar exists at all is because Ford wanted to return to the Le Mans 24-hour race and needed a car to do it with. Regulations say it must sell road-going versions of whatever car it races with, so here we are: the long, low, race-derived Ford GT.
It's built around a lightweight carbonfibre chassis, in which up to two occupants sit, and has a very narrow body to help it slip through the air.
In the middle, just behind the driver, sits a highly tuned 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with two turbochargers. The engine makes 638bhp and 550lb ft of torque – even more than it does in the racing version, which has to be limited to meet regulations.
All that grunt goes to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. There are very clever 'active' spoilers to enhance the aerodynamics, and the suspension has two different heights: one for the road and the other for the track.
The car was built by Ford’s project partner, Multimatic of Canada, at a rate of 250 a year until the 1000 it planned to sell were all snapped up.
We were lucky enough to drive one in the UK to find out just what sort of performance and handling this very special model delivers. Oh, in case you're wondering what it's like to live with, we also rated the Ford GT in all the practical areas too, including interior space and running costs.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Given that the Ford GT started life as a racing car, the most astonishing thing about it is the quality of its ride. Thumb the button that softens the suspension's dampers and, like most supercars, which have their suspension settings mulled over to the nth degree by fastidious engineers, the GT can shame a few family hatchbacks when it comes to smoothing over bumps.
That’s in terms of the physical shocks you receive, but as far as interior noise goes, it’s a completely different story. This is where you appreciate wholeheartedly that this was never designed as a road car, in the way that a McLaren 720S was, for example.
The carbonfibre tub you sit in, with precious little soundproofing, acts like an echo chamber as you ride rough roads. You can hear stones pinging off the car's underbody, and within the carbon bodywork, all the things that make the GT go are fizzing, clonking and whirring away.
Most notable, of course, is the big V6 engine. This barks angrily, gutturally even, just inches away from your ears. When you’re on the throttle, it’s a cacophony of induction roar and the violent explosions from within the cylinders. When you’re off the throttle, it’s the wheezing from the wastegates, hurriedly venting the turbochargers' colossal boost pressure out into the atmosphere. It’s intoxicating, but never anything but very loud.
What about performance, then? Well, it’s mighty – Ford says the GT can blast from 0-60mph in 2.8sec and go on to a top speed of 216mph. There's a little lag between you putting your foot down and the car gathering up the horizon at a stupendous pace. This is mostly noticeable below 2500rpm, but past 3500rpm the delay is fractional.
In first and second gears, the biggest surprise is that (in the dry, at least) the two rear wheels will actually accept full throttle, even on a bumpy road, without spinning up. It’s when you get into third that you can start to appreciate fully how quick the GT is, with the rate of acceleration seeming never to drop below epic.
Surprisingly, considering this car’s genesis on the track, it’s manageable. With weighty and accurate steering, the GT darts in to corners extremely keenly, and the trick suspension keeps the body supremely flat.
You get more feedback from the 720S on the road, but the GT is still entertaining and, if you get brave, playful without feeling like it’s about to throw you into a hedge.
On a circuit, for which the suspension drops 70mm in an instant when Track mode is enabled, it’s mightily fast and involving.
Then there are the brakes: those big carbon-ceramic discs and the flip-up rear air brake haul you to a stop so quickly they could tease tears from the eyes of even the happiest soul.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Ford GT is relatively spartan by the standards of modern supercars. But then they are mostly designed as grand tourers or sports cars first, and track and race cars second, whereas the GT comes at it from the other way around.
The first thing that strikes you is how ungainly it is getting in. You have to perch on the wide sill, then swing your legs up and over, while simultaneously sliding back onto the seat.
Then there’s the unconventional seating adjustment. The driver’s seat is fixed directly to the chassis and, although the driver's backrest does recline, it’s the pedals and steering wheel that move back and forth toward you, rather than the other way around.
After playing around, though, it’s decently comfortable, but if you’re tall you might find the steering wheel blocks of the top of the instrument dials.
In much the same way that Ferrari does it, Ford has mounted the buttons for everything from driving modes to wipers and indicators on the steering wheel. McLaren forsake this nod to F1 ergonomics on the basis that, for road cars, it’s better to keep things simple. We tend to agree, because trying to find the button for the left-hand indicator that was where it was supposed to be before you turned the wheel, but is now on the right, can be rather confusing.
In the GT, forward or side vision are both good, but your rear views are hindered by the tapering body and tiny rear window. The McLaren 720S, with its more expansive glass area, is much easier to see out of and airier inside, too.
What else is there to tell you about the GT's interior? Well, it's pretty austere, like a racing car, but still exquisite if you are focusing on the wonderful bare carbonfibre that makes up most of the surfaces. Beyond that, though, the material quality is a little questionable, certainly in comparison to the GT's exotic rivals.
The GT's sat-nav works okay – it’s part of the Sync3 infotainment system that’ll be familiar to anyone who drives a third-generation Ford Focus – but its sound system has to compete with the road and engine noise, which is rather like hosting a clarinet lesson on an airport runway.
The infotainment also offers a track app, which records the car and driver's performance on a circuit, including lap times and steering, accelerator and braking inputs. It can even record video of you driving via a smartphone.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Anyone who knows anything about the original Ford GT40 might be aware that it was a severely cramped car – it was named GT40, after all, because the top of the roof was just 40 inches from the ground. Thankfully, the modern GT was built to be a little more accommodating.
There’s just enough head and leg room inside for those over 6ft tall to get comfortable, although the interior is narrow – invite only people you truly like to sit in the passenger seat, because you'll be literally rubbing shoulders with them.
Make sure they know to pack light, too. There’s barely any interior storage to speak of, and while the GT does technically have a boot, we suspect it’s only there because the racing rules insist that, as a road car, it should have one. It's sat behind the engine, and is little more than a cubbyhole, into which you couldn’t fit even a crash helmet.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
You won’t be able to buy a Ford GT new. Ford received 7000 applications for the 1000 cars it planned to build. Expect to see cars at shows and events rather than turned around quickly on the used market for a big profit.
Despite the blue oval badge on the front, obviously this race-car-derived special isn’t going to be cheap to run, on any front. You don’t get much in the way of equipment, either, only the essentials: electric windows, cruise control and air conditioning. If you are lucky enough to be on the list for a new GT, however, there are personalisation options available.
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