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

Motor (Australia) - - RACER MEETS ROAD CAR - –JT

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

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