Ford has made a massive effort to win the 2015 North American International Auto Show, on the first day, with the all new GT supercar. But will taking a thoroughly modern approach be enough to win fans this time round?
If there has been a consistent theme to Detroit over the last twelve months, it’s one of a car industry slowly getting back down to business after years of financial punishment. Still, a brand new Ford GT comes as a little bit of a surprise, even in the days of 700 bhp Dodges and 600 bhp Cadillacs. And whereas those muscle car creations stick to the big-power V8 strategy, Ford has been smarter in its creation of the new GT.
Where the original GT featured a supercharged V8 engine in an aluminium chassis, the new GT uses a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and carbon fibre construction. How times change, eh? The 3.5 litre V6 produces over 600 bhp, and Ford claims it to be related to the race-proven unit used successfully in IMSA Daytona Prototype endurance racing. Dual direct fuel-injection features on the mid-mounted motor, powering the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Under the skin is an active torsion bar and pushrod suspension system, whilst 20″ wheels are wrapped in a specifically developed set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The brakes are, of course, carbon ceramic.
Although it might be race-bred, does a V6 really have enough cache to win over the Blue-Oval faithful? Ford is determined to keep spreading EcoBoost turbo engine throughout its product range, with this new GT as the top halo car. Whilst a V6 may be good enough for the new Acura (Honda) NSX, at EngageSportMode there’s a slight feeling that we wish this new GT had eight-cylinders instead. Hopefully the performance, and soundtrack, of the finished article will be enough to convince us otherwise.
Evolving the reinterpretation of a classic design isn’t always easy; just ask MINI or Volkswagen. However, Ford seems to have been rather successful in moulding the GT40 shape into something much more modern. The same proportions are there, but the detailing is much harder edged. The flying buttresses flowing down from the rear of the roof are amazing, and the twin-exhaust tailpipes exiting through the middle of the rear end are also impressive.
Ford states the new GT has been designed for maximum aero efficiency, with each component designed to minimise drag, topped off by an active rear spoiler that adjusts for angle and height. You could quite easily remove the Ford badge, and supplement it for one of a certain Italian manufacturer, without anyone saying a word; such is the exterior detailing of the new GT.
Inside things look a little big more Ford-like. Although there is extensive use of carbon fibre – being the primary component of the passenger cell – at first glance it looks a little more ordinary that Italian exotica. The seats themselves are attached to the passenger cell – like the LaFerrari – with the pedals and steering wheel moving to accommodate different sized drivers.
We’re not 100% sold on the “F1 inspired” two-spoke steering wheel, which houses all the switches and levers usually found on the steering column, in a style reminiscent of the Ferrari 458. We do, however, love the door mounted carbon fibre vents for the air conditioning system.
There are no details of pricing or performance yet, but the new GT is set to go into production late in 2016. Whilst Ford has kept some of the elements of the original GT, and GT40, there’s no doubt that this is a thoroughly modern supercar. Detroit 2015 looks to be an exciting show, and it’s only the first day!