ROAD GT VS THE ROAD
THIS IS THE TRICKY BIT. WILL THE RACING PEDIGREE RESULT IN A CRASHY AND UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE IN THE REAL WORLD? LET’S GO FOR A SPIN AND FIND OUT
IT’S THE MORNING after the tyre test, sun yet to rise. The race team’s packed up and the road car will be transported back to the UK in a few hours’ time, but right now it’s idling in the pre-dawn gloom, warming its fluids, driver’s door aloft. We’ve established it’s shot through with race car DNA, but we have to explore the road car bit. Is the GT just too track-focused for its own good? Slide over the wide carbon sills and you’re left in no doubt that you’re deep within the structure of the car. There’s carbon everywhere; even the dash is a structural element. Its design is functional to the point of being nondescript, the steering wheel an ugly switchgear-peppered oblong. It feels great on the move, the power steering (linked to the same hydraulic system as the moveable wing and suspension) purposefully weighty and unerringly accurate. There’s similarly brilliant feel and feedback through the brakes, the carbon-ceramic discs more feelsome and less grabby than most, although they ssshhh when you breathe on the pedal, like cupping a seashell to your ear. The rest of the car’s pretty vocal, too. It’s a cacophony of creaks, squeaks and rattles accompanied by whooshes and whistles from the turbos. You’ll need to talk pretty loudly to chat with your passenger, assuming they haven’t been scared into silence by the performance. The central pipes sound more nuanced than the race car’s, the V6 emitting a nice throaty tone, even if it doesn’t quite set your hairs on end like a Lamborghini. Throttle response does, though, the merest twitch of your big toe registering on the digital rev counter, turbo lag conspicuous by its absence. And no question it’s powerful – on decidedly dog-eared tyres from the previous day’s track activities, the traction control light is still winking in fifth gear. However, it’s not scary. As we travel further from Aragon, the road untangles into long, fast, freehand arcs and the supercar from Ford feels planted, its long wheelbase and all that wind tunnel work instilling huge stability, and in turn confidence. Ride quality is on the firm side, even in Comfort mode, but there is fluidity to the GT’s movements – it doesn’t feel like a solidly sprung racetrack refugee. It looks a bit like one in places, though – there’s sealant visible between the A-pillars and windscreen, for instance, the boot’s laughably tiny and there’s nowhere to put anything in the interior. The seat bases are fixed in position, while you heave on a strap to move the pedals instead – it’s lighter that way round. Back rests do adjust, though, and I actually found them incredibly comfortable over a few hours’ driving. They look great too, curved ripples of leather like a ’60s sports car. Rear visibility? Not so much. But thanks to its clear reversing camera, the GT’s no more or less difficult to reverse than most supercars. Natural rivals are hard to pinpoint. The GT occupies its own space in the supercar kingdom, more focused than an Aventador SV, more exotic than a 911 GT2 RS. Radical’s RXC Coupe was also designed with dual road/ race roles (and uses the same Ford EcoBoost V6), but that’s hairier still. Perhaps closest is the Glickenhaus SCG Stradale, but that was designed as a race car first, then adapted for road use. The McLaren 720S is more rounded, but it’s a different animal. Ford could have made another retro pastiche of the original GT40, and it would have sold. But, thankfully, it chose not to. The racing link gives this car a credibility that, for me, makes it the most compelling supercar on sale today. That the GT can fight for victory at Le Mans and play the role of thrilling road toy is remarkable, and cements its status as a stand-out achievement in the same vein as the original GT40.
RIGHT Racing ties, tangible links to the track warrior make the Ford GT truly unique in the supercar landscape. And for that, it’s very hard not to love