Always great when a super car surprise appears nobody was expecting. Ford does it again with a new generational look to the Ford GT. Stands in the crowd on its own. Great Car.
While supercar world awaited Acura NSX, nobody saw Ford GT coming
The Ford GT, above, and Acura NSX, below, debuted two hours apart. While the NSX had been anticipated for three years, the GT burst onto the scene unexpectedly.
DETROIT — After three years of teasing, Acura was finally ready to show off the production version of the $150,000, 550-hp NSX. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld smiled from the front row as photographers jammed the risers behind him.
It was in that carefully planned moment that the Ford GT, which had been revealed about two hours earlier, arrived at its home on the next stand over, drawing a sizable crowd of its own.
Whether that timing was coincidence or not, the GT managed to steal some of Acura’s thunder for the second time that morning. With even more horsepower than the NSX and almost no one expecting it, the GT barreled into the Detroit auto show the way Kramer used to burst into Seinfeld’s TV apartment.
The supercar showdown quickly became the talk of the show, epitomizing the optimism and exuberance that has blossomed after several years dominated by modesty and practicality.
“The business case is never why you do a vehicle like this,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford told reporters moments after the GT first roared onto a stage in the Detroit Red Wings’ arena.
|Ford GT||Acura NSX|
|Powertrain||3.5L EcoBoost V-6||Hybrid twin-turbo V-6|
|Body and frame||Carbon fiber and aluminum||Aluminum, carbon fiber and sheet molding composite|
|Release date||Late 2016||Late 2015|
Ford: GT makes a statement
“It’s really a statement vehicle. It really does give a halo to the entire lineup that ultimately will drive more sales.”
The two cars followed very different paths that culminated in Detroit on exactly the same day, a few hundred feet apart. The NSX was essentially developed in full public view, with Acura trotting out concept versions since 2012, while Ford never officially breathed a word about the GT until last Monday.
“We had it developed literally in a secret location in the basement of the company,” Ford CEO Mark Fields told ABC News in an interview from the show.
Ford said the GT’s 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 engine would produce more than 600 hp. It gave no specifics on price, with Fields saying only that it would be “fairly high — but, of course, always a good value.” Analysts said the GT is certain to cost at least $200,000, if not considerably more. The last GT, discontinued in 2006, had a sticker price of $150,000.
Among the cars’ chief competitors are the McLaren 650S, which is $265,500; Ferrari 458 Speciale, which goes for $298,000; and Lamborghini Aventador, which runs about $400,000.
The NSX is slated to hit the market well ahead of the GT. Acura plans to start taking orders this summer, begin production in the fall at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, and make deliveries by year end.
Ford said production of the GT will start in 2016 and reach customers in the second half of that year. Executives didn’t say where it would be built; Ford previously built the GT at its Wixom, Mich., plant, which has been torn down.
Sales volumes for both cars will be extremely low — likely only several hundred a year for the GT and fewer than 2,000 annually for the NSX. In both cases, it’s more about the overall brand than the car itself.
“We’ll use the NSX to sell Acura,” Mike Accavitti, the head of Acura, told Automotive News. “In time, we’ll have to market NSXs to sell NSXs.”
Accavitti said he wants the NSX to become part of Acura’s identity “so that ILX buyers feel like they’re buying a piece of it.”
For Ford, the GT is the jewel of the new Ford Performance division that plans 12 new models by 2020, including the F-150 Raptor and Mustang Shelby GT 350R, both of which were unveiled alongside the GT.
Ford sees big benefits from pushing performance in today’s market. It says almost two-thirds of people who buy the high-performance Focus ST or Fiesta ST come from outside the Ford brand, and more than half of Ford performance vehicle owners later buy another Ford.
“They’re building a performance fan base,” said Karl Brauer, senior director of insights at Kelley Blue Book. “All of those guys think this car is really cool, and even though very few of them will ever touch it, all of them feel a little cooler because of it when they drive their Focus ST or Raptor.”
Erik Berkman, head of the Acura Business Planning Office, said Acura hopes to eventually increase NSX production to eight a day.
“We don’t want to overproduce,” Berkman said. “It’s important to maintain demand.”
The NSX is a three-motor hybrid with a twin-turbo V-6 engine. It has two electric motors attached to the front wheels, with a third sitting between the engine and transmission. The engine is mid-mounted.
“Our global team embraced the challenge to create a new sports car experience,” said Ted Klaus, chief engineer and global development leader of the new NSX, “leveraging new technology to deliver incredibly vivid performance in a vehicle that responds intuitively and immediately to the will of the driver.”
The GT is gasoline-only, a demonstration of the performance side of Ford’s EcoBoost technology, fortuitously timed with gasoline prices at a five-year low and fuel economy less top-of-mind for consumers. It’s also a symbol of how far Ford has come since the dark days of the recession, when every month seemed to bring more job cuts, plant closings and other grim news.
“When you look at a vehicle like this, which is really a showcase for the entire lineup that we’ve essentially redone over the last few years,” Fields said, “it gives our employees a lot of motivation, a lot of enthusiasm.”