These are fast times at Ford Motor Co. The automaker used the 2015 Detroit Auto Show to announce three disparate new vehicles that are all housed under a new speed-oriented subbrand called Ford Performance.
The automaker on Monday rolled out the GT, a carbon-fiber-bodied supercar, the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor truck, and the track-ready Mustang GT350 R. Ford says it will have 12 models in the performance lineup by 2020.
“If you could use innovation to build the ultimate Ford performance vehicle, what would it be?” Ford’s CEO Mark Fields asked the crowd at the Detroit show before the brilliant blue GT rolled on stage. “Well, here’s an idea.”
The low-slung two-seater is a mid-engine supercar, and takes cues from the GT that Ford built a decade ago. That car was a modern interpretation of the iconic GT40 that Ford sold in the 1960s and raced to a stunning 1-2-3 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
The new GT unveiled Monday in Detroit is more forward looking than its retro-inspired predecessor. It wraps a sleek carbon fiber body around a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, a twin-turbocharged unit that makes more than 600 horsepower, Ford said.
Playing up the car’s exotic nature, the doors swing upward, and there’s an active rear spoiler at the back.
The passenger shell is also made from carbon fiber. Ford didn’t disclose the car’s weight, but did promise it would have one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any performance car.
Rumored in the weeks leading up to the Detroit show, the GT delivered on many of the whispers. Ford said will start making the car in 2016. No pricing details or production numbers were announced, but it is likely to hit the $150,000 to $200,000 range.
Though the GT grabbed most of Ford’s attention at Monday morning’s news conference, there was plenty of horsepower to go around.
A new version of the F-150 Raptor will go on sale in late 2016 as a 2017 model. Though the Baja-inspired ethos of the truck remains, the Raptor’s powertrain gets a groundbreaking change.
A redesigned 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine replaces the older Raptor’s V-8. And an industry-first 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will be the only gearbox available on the new Raptor, Ford said.
Co-developed with General Motors, this transmission will eventually land in the regular F-150, as well as other vehicles in Ford’s fleet.
By using a lighter drivetrain and an aluminum body like other new F-150s, the 2017 Raptor will shave more than 500 pounds off its predecessor’s curb weight. This weight reduction and the greener, multispeed transmission will help boost fuel efficiency too.
Horsepower on the new engine won’t be revealed until closer to the truck’s on-sale date, but Ford has promised it will be more than the current Raptor’s 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque.
Like the current model, the second-generation Raptor will come in SuperCab (smaller rear-hinged doors at the back) and SuperCrew (four full-size doors) configurations.
In a nod to the truck’s off-road habits, the 2017 model will come with six driving modes for elements like mud, sand or snow, though it will also have a pair of street modes. Ford tested these settings -- and the Raptor as a whole -- at its durability course in Southern California’s Anza Borrego State Park. Fox brand shocks carry over, though suspension travel will increase, as will the strength of the Raptor’s steel frame.
Ford also brought a new pony car to the Detroit Show. The Shelby Mustang GT350R is an even faster version of the GT350 that premiered at the L.A. Auto Show in November.
“This isn’t just about horsepower,” Raj Nair, Ford’s vice president, said ahead of the R’s debut. “The Shelby GT350R is an all-around balanced athlete – one that is extraordinarily precise and agile.”
Rather than bump the GT350’s power, Ford aggressively tuned the R for more downforce and lighter weight. Though street-legal, the R model is aimed at track use.
It sheds an additional 130 pounds from the GT350 Track Pack model by throwing out the rear seats, air conditioning, stereo and interior trim pieces (these bits can be added back on if desired).
Ford also used carbon fiber wheels, which the automaker says shaves 13 pounds each.
The body has been re-thought to allow better cooling and increased grip. Thus, the various vents, diffusers and a large carbon fiber rear wing are all aimed at keeping rubber on road, no matter the speed.
The heart of the GT350 carries over to the new R model. This means an all-new 5.2-liter V-8 engine with a flat-plane crankshaft (a powerful race-friendly design Ferrari uses in its road cars) makes “more than” 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
A six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential and a thoroughly revised suspension system are all standard.
Ford will put the GT350R on sale later this year in the U.S. and Canada. But don’t expect to see many on the road; the automaker expects to sell around 1,000 of the cars over the next three to four years.