Ready for liftoff
Ford raided the parts bin for the centrally positioned shifter dial. It's one of the few weak spots in the stunning cabin. What happens when the dial turns to "D" makes the trip to the bargain bin worth it.
Ford has cranked up all the GT's powertrain nerve endings. The throttle take-up feels direct and intuitive. Though it still can’t compete with the immediacy of a naturally aspirated engine, the twin-turbo-6 keeps its throttle open even with no gas-pedal pressure. That maintains boost, and makes the GT ready to run when you mash the pedal.
Goose it again, and the GT whooshes ahead with confident charge. Shifts from the dual-clutch 7-speed come fairly swiftly and smoothly in standard mode, though they get more abrupt in the more aggressive Track setting. The machined aluminum paddles have a pleasantly ribbed finish, conveying a direct effect on shift action.
The suspension barely squats under all that thrust as it ramps up forward momentum. At an oxygen-sapping 4,000 feet of elevation, the GT's acceleration still feels satisfyingly strong. It only reveals a slight decline in thrust as the digital tach approaches the 7,000-rpm redline. It’s all but impossible not to be intrigued by whatever untapped thrust might be left on the table.
Street driving turns mundane in Normal mode, despite the GT’s alien styling and low-slung body. The lightweight carbon wheels put less mass at all four corners, and as a result, the GT damps bumpy roads surprisingly well. The refined suspension runs counter to the aural experience inside the cockpit. Ford cancels out some engine noises by piping sound through the GT’s stereo speakers. Something's still missing in the exhaust note; it begs for an aftermarket solution to round out the car’s oversized personality. A gearbox whine at 2,500 rpm hints at the GT’s compressed development timeline, too. It's a small blemish on what otherwise feels like a four-wheeled masterpiece.
Switch it to Track, and the GT feels more glued down to tarmac without the harshness you might expect from such aggressive setting. Interestingly, despite its eco-themed powertrain, the GT’s steering remains hydraulic, conveying a good amount of information about road surface texture and suspension load. Speed accumulates quickly on public Utah roads, but even at triple-digit velocities in Track mode the steering feels a touch sensitive to on-center inputs, suggesting the car is more interested in turning than it is tracking a straight line.
At Utah Motorsports Campus’s 2.2-mile west course, the GT changes direction with slot car-like responsiveness. Mid-corner steering adjustments yield perceptible weight transfer.
The lack of the brake vectoring you’d find in a McLaren 720S or Porsche 911 Turbo put the onus on the driver to properly place the car in a corner. Hit your mark, and the chassis feels balanced and poised, handling each corner with precision. Accelerate too early while turning, and the front end will push.
Stability control enables a fair amount slip angle, which seemed to be easier than it might have been due to the low ambient temperatures (we saw light snowfall earlier in the day). Pushing harder for intentional slides revealed chatter from the chilly Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, suggesting considerably more grip would be available under warmer conditions. The 6- and 4-piston carbon-ceramic Brembos offer copious stopping power, encouraging later braking on the faster corners.