Ford unveils GT supercar, other performance vehicles

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. on Monday unveiled a series of new performance vehicles including a new GT supercar at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. The vehicle will get over 600 horsepower out of a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and will be built in 2016, but Ford was mum on any racing details.

The Dearborn automaker also unveiled a new F-150 Raptor and a track-ready Mustang Shelby GT350R. The Raptor will be on the market next year, while the GT350R will be on sale late this year. Pricing was not announced for any of the vehicles.

The all-new GT features rear-wheel drive, a mid-mounted engine, and a sleek, aerodynamic, two-door coupe body shell. It's powered by a next-generation twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 — Ford's most powerful EcoBoost engine ever — producing more than 600 horsepower.

"As we at Ford drive innovation into every part of our business, it's worth remembering that our first innovation as a company was not in a laboratory, but on the racetrack," said Mark Fields, Ford president and chief executive officer, referring to Henry Ford's win of a 1901 car race that inspired financial backers to invest in his company. "We are passionate about innovation through performance and creating vehicles that make people's hearts pound."

The all-new GT features rear-wheel drive, a mid-mounted engine, and a sleek, aerodynamic, two-door coupe body shell. It's powered by a next-generation twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 — Ford's most powerful EcoBoost engine ever — producing more than 600 horsepower.

"It's serving as a showcase for all our innovation and technology," Fields said.

The GT is one of more than 12 new Ford Performance vehicles coming by 2020. It joins Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R in the growing Ford Performance lineup.

"Ford appears ready to revive is performance image with the most iconic race vehicle from its past," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. The new GT is an appropriate evolution, clearly stemming from Ford's last go around in the supercar world. Just like last time, Ford will have performance fans drooling over its mid-engine exotic, with a fortunate few taking ownership when it hits showrooms next year."

Ford's focus on performance could be a sign that times in the industry are good again; instead of focusing on simple lineups, it can expand to niche markets.

"We're going to continue to focus on our full lineup of vehicles," Fields said. "It's really important for us to be that full-line manufacturer. It's great to be able to present a product like this."

The GT350R is powered by a 5.-2 liter flat plane crank V8 engine and produces more than 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The GT350R drops a number of amenities, like air conditioning, in the pursuit of reducing weight, but Ford has an electronics package for those seeking more comfort that includes dual-zone air conditioning, 8-inch touch screen with navigation, seven-speaker audio system, turn signal mirrors and more.

"The all-new 2015 Mustang has a rich heritage it can draw from as Ford ramps up enthusiasm for the new pony car," Brauer said. "The GT350 shown in Los Angeles was the first of many iconic nameplates the new car will wear, while the GT350R shows Ford is serious about establishing the car as a track-weapon of Ford fans who also are serious weekend racers."

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr., left, and Mark Fields, president and CEO, introduce several new vehicles including the GT during the North American International Auto Show on Monday.

The Raptor uses the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost as the GT, but Fields was mum on its horsepower and other capability numbers. It will be paired with an all-new 10-speed transmission for improved efficiency.

Raptor is 6 inches wider than the standard F-150 for improved stability off-road.

"When we created the first Raptor, we set out to prove vehicle performance isn't just measured on the street or at the track – off-road can be even more fun," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development. "The original Raptor, plus enhancements on the all-new F-150 set the bar for us to make the all-new Raptor better in every way."

All of Ford's performance cars unveiled Monday are more lightweight than their predecessors. The Raptor saves up to 500 pounds thanks to its aluminum-body, the GT350R saves 130 pounds thanks to carbon fiber wheels and deletions of things like air conditioning and other amenities, and the GT uses carbon and aluminum to save weight.

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2401

Twitter.com/MikeMartinez_DN