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 is. 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 for its sculptural carbonfibre construction; for its sparseness; for the contrast between its tactile metallic switchgear and its more workmanlike fittings; and for 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.
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. And when you engage drive, instead of the expected clunk and whine of straight-cut gears engaging and spinning, the GT’s twin-clutch gearbox is remarkably smooth. 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 50mm 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? On the road, it gets most of the way. 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.