2017 Ford GT

Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

Who Says Rac­ing Doesn’t Mat­ter?

Road rac­ing’s pop­u­lar­ity in the United States is a long way re­moved from its all­time high decades ago, and that’s a real shame in our col­lec­tive opin­ion. It’s also a bit bizarre when you con­sider how many sports cars and su­per­cars this coun­try’s af­flu­ent purchasers snap up an­nu­ally—cars that pro­duce their as­tound­ing per­for­mance thanks to tech­nolo­gies and en­gi­neer­ing lessons learned on race­tracks around the globe. Re­gard­less of whether you’re a race fan, the good news for en­thu­si­asts is that man­u­fac­tur­ers con­tinue to push the mo­tor­sports en­ve­lope, lead­ing to ever more im­pres­sive of­fer­ings for the street.

Make no mis­take, Ford’s lat­est GT is a mod­ern ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial cre­ated first and fore­most to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a feat it ac­com­plished in 2016. Its com­pe­ti­tion-bred roots are ap­par­ent im­me­di­ately in the road-go­ing ver­sion—but not ev­ery­one ap­pre­ci­ates them right away. Some of our staff even ini­tially de­clared the car a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment, rel­a­tively speak­ing, on the street, as the dual-clutch gear­box isn’t as slick and smooth as some oth­ers on the mar­ket. And although the twin­turbo ECOBOOST’s 647 horse­power and 550 lb-ft of torque are noth­ing to mock, nei­ther do they make the GT as brain­bend­ingly quick as some­thing like the McLaren 720S. Of course, that re­ally says more about the amaz­ing state of the per­for­mance car world when a ma­chine ca­pa­ble of run­ning from 0 to 60 mph in a tick less than three sec­onds is no longer au­to­mat­i­cally considered mind-blow­ing in the ac­cel­er­a­tion de­part­ment.

The car’s car­bon-fiber mono­coque con­struc­tion is a piece of race-proven hard­ware, but si­mul­ta­ne­ously the nofrills cock­pit’s mo­tor­sports-in­flu­enced de­sign and trim give you a bit of that old kit-car feel­ing. But we knew from our

ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing the GT last year that ini­tial im­pres­sions don’t tell any­where close to the full story. As No­orde­loos noted while mak­ing it clear the GT didn’t blow him away on the street, “It feels like it’s dy­ing to go to the track.”

Some of us smiled know­ingly, as once the GT hit the Speed­ve­gas road course, any lin­ger­ing doubts about it dis­in­te­grated within the first lap or two. Sud­denly the en­gine that sounded a bit agri­cul­tural at low rpms on the street be­gan to spit and hiss all man­ner of turbo and in­duc­tion sounds, snort­ing, pop­ping, and scream­ing its way through cor­ners faster than any­thing else on site as its mon­ster midrange torque proved mas­sively im­pres­sive. Pre­vi­ous grum­bles from taller driv­ers about a lack of head­room dis­ap­peared as they sud­denly and hap­pily found a way to shoe­horn their hel­met­clad skulls into the left seat, grin­ning the en­tire time. The GT’s steer­ing, brak­ing, and sus­pen­sion setup are all phe­nom­e­nal, al­low­ing you to at­tack apex curbs with an ag­gres­sive I-will-own-you style that seem­ingly re­wards driv­ers more the harder they push.

On top of all the me­chan­i­cal good­ness, the more ex­pe­ri­enced and skilled driv­ers among us re­peat­edly men­tioned the GT’s aero­dy­namic per­for­mance. “With­out doubt it has the most down­force and gen­er­ates the most lat­eral g’s on the track, es­pe­cially when us­ing the sus­pen­sion in the ul­tra-low Track mode,” Pil­grim said. “It’s def­i­nitely the best-han­dling car in the field.” In­deed, where other cars re­quired a throt­tle lift to make it through cer­tain sec­tions of the cir­cuit, the GT dug in and rock­eted it­self off of cor­ners with no is­sues. The chas­sis bal­ance and grip it pro­vided in Speed­ve­gas’s quicker turns—none of which qual­ify as truly high-speed—and the cor­re­spond­ing con­fi­dence it in­spired had sev­eral of us dream­ing about run­ning the car some­where more wide open, like Road Amer­ica or Road At­lanta or Spa-Fran­cor­champs.

So then, the 2017 Ford GT proved it­self as one of the best, most track­ca­pable pro­duc­tion cars of all time, which led to our sta­ble of driv­ers re­think­ing its char­ac­ter on the road as well. It won’t feel fa­mil­iar to driv­ers of Porsches and Fer­raris and Lam­borgh­i­nis, as its over­all de­sign phi­los­o­phy is far more re­sults-based than com­fort- and lux­ury-ori­ented. In other words, ex­actly what Ford Per­for­mance in­tended from the out­set. As a group, we were wholly un­pre­pared for this car’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It’s a zero-com­pro­mises speed mas­ter, and if you drive it, you don’t have to give two cents of a care about road rac­ing—but you’ll un­der­stand in­stantly why it still mat­ters. This is eas­ily one of the most in­trigu­ing cars of the past decade and then some. Af­ter all, al­most no one builds them like this any­more. AM

BY MAC MOR­RI­SON

PRICE:

$450,000 (base) EN­GINE:

3.5L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/647 hp @ 6,250 rpm, 550 lb-ft @ 5,900 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 7-speed dual-clutch au­to­matic

LAY­OUT:

2-door, 2-pas­sen­ger, mid-en­gine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE:

11/18 mpg (city/hwy)

L x W x H:

187.5 x 78.9 x 43.7 in (41.7 in low mode) WHEEL­BASE:

106.7 in

WEIGHT:

3,354 lb

0-60 MPH:

2.9 sec (est)

TOP SPEED:

216 mph

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