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Ford GT 2017 UK review

Autocar logo Autocar 26/09/2017 Matt Saunders

Ford GT 2017 UK review

Ford GT 2017 UK review
© Autocar

What is it?

The Ford GT supercar - a grand total of 100 examples of which will be officially sold to UK buyers over the next four years. That’s roughly four times as many as Ford sold of the last-gen GT in Britain – and yet each one of the newbies will cost three times as much as the last ones once did.

The company had more than 6000 written expressions of interest in the car, it says, to fill a production run that will extend to only 1000 cars: a quarter as many as it built last time around.

Ford may very well flog pickup trucks and hatchbacks by the containership-load, but it’s a long way from naive about supercar sales. It plainly understands the value of rarity every bit as well as its old Italian racing foe.

Never mind the numbers, though: racing is what this new GT is really all about. Built by Multimatic, the same Canadian company than builds the Ford GT FIA GTE racer, which won its class at its first Le Mans outing last year.

And, as we found out abroad earlier this year, the road-going version of the GT is very much a converted version of a purpose-built competition machine – whereas most supercars and super GTs that find their way onto a starting grid do so via a route running in the opposite direction.

So what, you may wonder, have those hundred GT customers got in store when – or, more likely, if – they venture out onto UK roads in their left-hand-drive, 647bhp, carbon-fibre cars? Since Ford lent us one of only two examples of the car to have made it to Europe so far, I can now tell you. 

What is it like?

Ford GT 2017 UK review © Autocar Ford GT 2017 UK review Assuming they’re brave enough to risk the status of their golden geese on the road, those lucky punters have actually got little to fear but the gooey-eyed wonder of the public at large. It may not look quite like a Lamborghini but, trust me, the Ford GT attracts attention every bit as powerfully – if not more so.

And, just as we suspected back in July, although it’s low and wide and noisy, the car has a remarkably well-mannered, compliant and unintimidating on-road character that would make it almost as usable as a great many of its exotic mid-engined rivals.

Brass tacks, then. You can tell right away this isn’t the product of a company whose bread and butter is making supercars. The GT isn’t half as complete as a supercar offering as a Lamborghini Aventador SV was, neither does it feel as quick as a McLaren 720S. But, boy, is it exciting in spite of its relative weaknesses - and it feels incredibly special.

A comfortable fixed bucket seat, a sliding pedal box and a steering wheel you can adjust to within 18 inches of your sternum all contribute greatly to the impression that this car is a true blue motorsport exile that’s simply waiting for its next circuit outing.

The GT’s cockpit is remarkable save for its sculptural carbonfibre construction, its sparseness and workmanlike cheapness of its fittings in places and the close proximity in which you sit to your passenger.

The instruments are flatscreen and digitally rendered, but not desperately visually sophisticated. The steering wheel is busy with buttons and controls.

Ford GT 2017 UK review © Autocar Ford GT 2017 UK review When you start the engine, you’re met with the sound of a Machiavellian lump that doesn’t bother seducing you with its sweet tonality, hair-trigger responsiveness or with an 8500rpm redline – but it certainly makes the power necessary to get your attention.

But instead of the expected clunk and whine of straight-cut gears engaging and spinning, the GT’s twin-clutch gearbox is remarkably smooth when you tip into D. That’s not very ‘road-legal racing car’.

Neither is the suppleness of the car’s ride, in the right mode. The GT has Wet, Normal, Sport, Track and V-max driving modes, the latter two causing it to drop 70mm on its suspension and double its effective spring rate.

It has adaptive dampers, too – and if you leave the mode in Normal and the dampers in Comfort, it flows over an averagely well-surfaced road with palpable compliance.

When the intrusions get sharper and more severe, the suspension begins to struggle, sure; and, with no discernable bushing or noise isolation at all, the car’s ride is clunky at almost every opportunity. But it really isn’t uncomfortable. Really.

And can the Ford GT excite with the very best of 'em? As a driver’s car, its strong suits are surprisingly strong traction, a weighty, honest and well-paced steering rack and a chassis that grips hard, communicates keenly and inspires confidence easily.

It goes without saying that body control is first-rate – although the GT feels bigger and a touch less agile on the road than some supercars do.

Counting against the GT’s driving experience elsewhere are that slightly flat-sounding motor; a turn of speed that, while full-on, isn’t as breath-taking as the very greatest in the supercar niche; and that left-hand-drive-only status, which forces you to ride in the gutter of the road, restricts your visibility and makes the car tricky to place instinctively.

These are all things you wouldn't want in an ultimate driver's car - which is, after all, what the Ford GT should be aiming to be.

Ford GT 2017 UK review © Autocar Ford GT 2017 UK review

Should I buy one?

Well, while those are all things that may stand between this car and a class-topping recommendation within our supercar niche, none of them actually detracts much from its utterly singular appeal.

I don’t think I’ve ever driven anything that so cleverly delivers the unmistakable grip, performance and sense of a world-class competition machine, all packaged in a car that you’d choose to drive on the road.

If this is the way the highest echelons of the performance car market are moving - and the emergence of cars such as the Mercedes-AMG Project One and Aston Martin Valkyrie suggests this is the case - the Ford GT shows they can move that way without giving any of us reason to fear for the long-term health of the fast road car.

Ford GT

Where Silverstone, UK; On sale 2018 (second batch); Price £420,000; Engine V6, 3497cc, twin-turbocharged petrol; Power 647bhp at 6250rpm; Torque 553lb ft at 5900rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerbweight 1385kg (dry); Top speed 216mph; 0-60mph sub-3.0sec; Fuel economy tbc; CO2 rating tbc; Rivals Lamborghini Aventador S, McLaren 720S

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