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The Top Gear car review:Ford GT
What is it like on the road?
We’ll start on track, because I’m at Laguna Seca and it’s epic. In Track Mode the GT is just 41.7 inches tall, the wheels have disappeared inside the arches and it doesn’t look like there’s enough clearance for them to steer at all.
The second you pull away you’re aware of a condensed, focused energy. No slack, no rubber, just this delicious sense of being strapped to a very honed, precisely engineered machine. Strapped right to it, so you feel the vibrations, the movement, get a real sense of what the wheels are up to. The long-arm suspension is bushed, but it feels rose-jointed. The pictures reveal that it does roll, enough to tuck those tyres right up inside the arches, but you don’t feel that. What you feel is hard, flat cornering grip and sensational mid-corner balance.
Sat quite a long way in board you’re almost at the centre of the car, equally aware of what front and back axles are up to. Because the steering feel is so good, the brakes so pleasing to use and the chassis responses are so pure and instant, it doesn’t take long to get confident in the GT, and start to build rhythm and speed. It’s bloody fast. Fast enough that around Laguna Seca you never get a break, never get time to pause and take stock. By the time you’ve managed the tight exit of the last corner, you’re already travelling so fast down the main straight you’re concerned about the tricky jink left and blind crest just after the bridge.
Because you sit so centrally, the GT seems to pivot around you, so changes of direction feel very cohesive. As you go faster, you start to notice a hint of understeer into the slower corners, but this is a fast lap car, not a skids-n-slide machine, so that mostly acts as a reminder that the car is having to work hard - it’s reassuring. If you’re super keen you might want it to be a bit more edgy, a bit more grippy at the front end just to loosen the rear a touch, but that’s a matter of personal taste. The steering isn’t as sharp as a Ferrari rack, you need to apply a bit of lock, but that’s no hardship because you’re getting good information back.
Once past the apex, getting back on the power actually neutralises the car, transferring weight backwards to the fat 325/30 ZR20 Michelin Cup 2 tyres, and because you’re in Track mode the GT’s two turbos are always spinning, an anti-lag system ensuring throttle response is as crisp and immediate as it can be. It’s not perfect, and sometimes can get a bit carried away, over-boosting when you’re not ready for it, but on the whole the V6 hits as hard as you want, when you want, and you exit flat and fast.
You can play with this balance, and the GT lets you get away with stuff that other supercars would punish. You can trail brake right up to the apex without the back trying to step out of line, flick-flack through quick direction changes with not a hint of heave. Laguna Seca is a challenging, difficult track, but the Ford GT made it glorious. The Corkscrew should be super nerve-wracking, but the blind braking zone held no fears, and it pitched in hard, flat and accurate, drove itself down the cliff, skooshed the carbon splitter in the compression, and carried a dizzying amount of speed onwards to Rainey Curve and the addictive camber at Turn 10.
And when we did some skids for the cameras, it proved to be just as delicately balanced beyond the limit. That may seem irrelevant, but it’s the sign of a well set-up car when throttle, steering, back axle and suspension prove so biddable. Handling-wise the GT is something of a masterpiece on track.
Compared to the McLaren 675LT? I think it’s better balanced and manages its extra kilos superbly well, but it’s not quite as eye-popping in other areas. It doesn’t attack a circuit quite as aggressively as the British car, and its power delivery isn’t as visceral and hard-hitting.
So, the engine. Well, it makes a lot of noise for a V6, but the noise is more about quantity than quality. It’s not as charismatic as a V8 and, yeah, part of me misses that. But then I think about how remarkably stable the GT feels at ballistic speeds, how it seems to shed weight and hunker into the circuit, and reckon that I’m happy with the compromise.
The power delivery itself is rather one-dimensional, too. From both aural and acceleration perspectives there’s not much point seeking out the 7,000rpm redline – the good work has been done by 5,500rpm and the gears are closely stacked enough that the next one in the chamber will force you onwards with plentiful urge.
It’s fast, but I do wonder that now we have a McLaren with over 700bhp, a forthcoming Speciale version of the Ferrari 488 GTB which is bound to chase a similarly lofty figure and rumours that the Porsche GT2 RS will have upwards of 700bhp as well, whether the GT might be left feeling a bit limp. As it is, its power to weight ratio of around 425bhp/tonne already lags a chunk behind the 675LT’s (497bhp/tonne).
Nevertheless, it’s hardly short of grunt and punches itself forward very hard indeed. But it’s nothing the chassis can’t handle, so very quickly you feel confident using a lot of the power, knowing the brakes, steering and suspension will respond exactly as you want to get you out of whatever situation the engine has just got you in to. They’re the stars of the show. The V6 is there to provide acceleration and to do that as effectively and responsively as it can, but you get your thrills, your value for money, from the handling, the cornering, the suspension, the aero.
Out on the road it’s perfectly driveable – the visibility’s not too bad, it’s a surprise to find creep built in to the drivetrain, but it does make low speed driving smooth. You could use it to pop about in, but it’s a serious car – it never feels less than positive and informative on the road, so although the movements are tight and controlled, the info bombardment does make it wearing. And there’s a fair amount of road noise, too. You shouldn’t care about that.