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2017 Ford GT Targets Car Shoppers With Deep Pockets

DEARBORN, Michigan — The 2017 Ford GT will be more at home on a race course than a highway and the sticker price will be about $250,000 higher than the last Ford GT offered a decade ago, Ford said during a Monday presentation about the highly anticipated car.

In other words, this will be a far different car than the last-generation Ford GT.

The 2017 Ford GT is the automaker's third generation, two-seat midengine supercar. Sales begin late in 2016 and Ford dealer allocation has yet to be determined.

Ford raced the first-generation GT in the 1960s, and that car quickly became an icon in the eyes of Ford enthusiasts. The nameplate returned to the line as 2005 and 2006 models. By the time production ended, the car carried a $149,995 sticker and 4,038 cars had been built.

But the 2017 model has a different purpose and a considerably higher price tag than the last Ford GT, two factors that likely will reduce production volume, Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer at Ford Performance, told Edmunds.

"The last generation was very much a road car," Hameedi said. "This is a very focused track machine."

As for sticker price, Hameedi said: "It is going to kind of be in the space of Lamborghini Aventador. They start around $400,000. It may be lower, it may be higher, but it will be that space."

The 2017 Ford GT was unveiled in Detroit this past January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The 2016 Acura NSX, a key competitor to the Ford GT, debuted at the same show. Although pricing has not been announced, Acura has said a sticker in the neighborhood of $150,000 is expected. However, the NSX is not intended for the track.

Further details about the Ford GT were revealed during a press event that included a tour of the basement-level skunkworks at the automaker's Product Development Center in Dearborn where the car was designed.

The GT was developed in secrecy over a 12-month period. The walls at the center were covered with car sketches and sitting on the floor were a full-sized clay model of the upcoming Ford GT and three, flat-gray styling exercises that had been rejected.

Besides a short session on the GT's styling, Ford revealed a wide range of driver-assist technologies that are linked to make driving more exciting for the novice and the pro. The car's performance is controlled by 25 microprocessors connected to over 50 sensors, handling over 100 gigabytes of data per hour. The systems are designed to provide the ultimate driving experience, and, keep the car and driver out of trouble.

The car is equipped with traction and launch controls, adjustable suspension, steering-wheel controls, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a touchscreen and a long list of other features that were unavailable on the previous-generation model.

The 2017 Ford GT uses an extensive amount of carbon fiber and other materials to reduce vehicle weight, materials absent on earlier generations. Aluminum was the material of choice for the 2005 and 2006 models. The seat frames in the 2017 car are made of carbon fiber, for example.

The driver can select one of four driving modes activated at the touch of a button: Normal, Sport, Track and Wet. Each mode adjusts engine power, throttle management, antilock brakes, brake control, traction control, electronic stability control, damper characteristics, torque vectors, ride height, aerodynamics and other systems.

For example, depending on the car's turning angle, the system can automatically determine when to apply braking to one wheel or activate the rear wing to pop up, providing downforce to stabilize a vehicle on a track.

"If you start braking aggressively, it also goes into air brake mode. Aerodynamics are actually helping the vehicle slow down," Hameedi said. "This is a great example of software control systems working in the background. They are making the drive safer.

"They are allowing the driver to go deeper into the performance envelope of the vehicle. Even for that one out of a 100 expert drivers, these systems are doing things that they cannot do as a human being."

The car is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 producing over 600 horsepower.

Ford software reduced the time to develop the engine, said Steve Russ, Ford's technical leader for internal-combustion engines.

"We were able to tune the engine, select the right components using the software," Russ said. The automaker studied "eight different turbo configurations, 63 different cam configurations, optimized all that hardware in software and then we built very limited prototypes." 

"The fact that we used this software to virtually model and test let us get to the market faster with a durable, much higher horsepower engine that is really based on the core of the EcoBoost technology that we developed for the F-150," he said.

The pistons, cam, rods and pistons are among the components unique to the Ford GT.

As for the interior, Moray Callum, Ford's vice president of design, told Edmunds the Ford GT will offer only "a limited amount of personalization."

"We will not offer a wide range of interiors," Callum said. "The materials will change but it is not going to be four trim levels. Mainly we will look at fabric changes and color changes."

The car's driver and passenger seats do not travel forward/back; each is bolted to the floor in a fixed position. Due to the taper of the roof and the cockpit's small size, a fixed seat was selected to meet safety regulations. The pedals and seatbacks are adjustable, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes in and out.

Ford expects the seating arrangement will accommodate about 95 percent of interested enthusiasts.

Edmunds says:The Ford GT promises all the right equipment to make a weekend racer feel like a pro.

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