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Watch Porsche morph through seven generations of 911 – Roadshow

This year, Porsche built a little slice of automotive history — the one millionth 911. The ubiquitous sports car has changed a fair bit over the past 54 years, but maybe not as much as you might think.

To help commemorate its milestone achievement, Porsche put out a new video showing how the sales numbers rose through the years. Over that time, the 911 went through seven different major iterations, and the video shows the 911 morphing through those styles with the help of some CGI.

While selling a million cars is impressive, it’s more impressive how little the Porsche 911 has changed over that time. Sure, its physical footprint has grown considerably, but the general style remained pretty similar over that time. Watch the shape of the side windows as the car morphs from 911 to 964 to 993 and beyond. It barely changes!

If you’re looking for a 911 to call your own, but you can’t necessarily afford the six-figure price tag that comes with a modern Neunelfer, you’re in luck — some 70 percent of all 911s ever built are still road-worthy in 2017. They’re not exactly cheap, per se, but there’s plenty of supply to satiate all that demand.

Porsche One Millionth 911

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2017 Maserati Levante is Set to Boost Maserati Fortunes

When Porsche produced the first generation of the Cayenne, the move provoked some gnashing of teeth in the automotive world. Many felt it downright scandalous that the sportiest of automakers could give in to capitalist concerns and take the “easy” route to commercial gains. The resounding success of the Cayenne did allow Porsche to rake in some serious profits, which it turned right around and used to develop new sports models. This did not go unnoticed among its luxury-car competitors: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and even Bentley now include luxury SUVs in their lineups.

Now, several years and rounds of rumours later, Maserati is joining the club. The step is a crucial one for the prestigious Italian brand, which is attempting to reclaim its corner of the spotlight after several years of struggle.

A short history
Having experienced its greatest moments of glory in the period leading up to and following World War II, notably in the high-end luxury-car domain and on the race track (cue Juan Manuel Fangio winning the Formula One championship in 1957), Maserati was felled by tragedy at the Mille Miglia road race, and decided to pull back from racing to focus on producing cars in limited runs. 

Bought by Citroën in 1968, the Italian manufacturer entered a prosperous period. However, the bankruptcy of Citroën in 1973, followed by its buyout by PSA, left Maserati in liquidation. The company was then bought and relaunched by Alejandro de Tommaso, but the cars that resulted failed to impress, and it would take the integration of Maserati into the Fiat Group and FCA to bring it all the way back from the brink. 

These days, Maserati is part of FCA’s Sport Group alongside Alfa Romeo and Abarth, and its ambition is to garner annual sales of 75,000 units. The objective may seem a modest one, until you remember that just five years ago the company was producing a mere 4,000 units per year. The arrival of the 2017 Maserati Levante fits into the automaker’s strategy to attain its new sales goals.

Elegant chassis, luxurious interior
There’s no denying that the Levante is an elegant creature, starting with its front grille bedecked with vertical chrome bars and featuring the famous trident icon, included on Maserati cars since the 1920s, and which is inspired by the statue of Neptune standing in downtown Bologna. As with most of its competitors, the nose of the Levante is elongated while the rear is truncated, giving the overall shape a sporty demeanour. The presence of portholes on the wings hasn’t been universally well-received, but as with Buick, they are part of the brand’s tradition. 

In any event, it’s the interior that truly steals the show; it features high-quality leather, contoured seats and a dashboard dominated by a large infotainment screen bordered by vertical ventilation ducts. The indicator dials have a classic and highly elegant look to them, and are separated from each other by a really practical info screen display. The steering wheel, meanwhile, has dimensions that lend themselves to a pleasant and proper grip. 

The front seats are exceedingly comfortable, while those in the rear are quite generous in terms of headroom and legroom.

Engine made by Ferrari
Any self-respecting Italian luxury car has to have a racing-minded engine under its hood. The 2017 Levante is well-served by it 3.0L V6, developed by Maserati but assembled at Ferrari’s manufacturing plan. It’s hard to imagine anyone complaining much about this set-up. In any event, the “base” model produces 345 hp, while its more-powerful sibling ups that to 424 hp, and both are wedded to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission.  By default, the all-wheel drive distributes the majority of the torque to the rear wheels, but it can transfer up to 50% of that torque to the front wheels in reduced-grip conditions. 

The standard air suspension can be adjusted at different heights and in different positions. Also adjustable is its firmness, but keep in mind that the Sport mode renders the suspension of the Levante frankly too rigid for our North American roads. As well, a left-right torque vector enhances stability during cornering.

Once settled in behind the wheel, it’s easy to be spellbound by the sheer quality of the leather and by the ambience of the cabin. When it comes to such environments, no one can match the Italians for their design genius. The strength of the magic spell only increases when the ignition is turned, revealing an engine sound that is a genuine mechanical symphony. For many consumers, this moment is the one that will convince them to buy.

Once out on the road, the Levante proves itself pleasant to drive, and it’s tempting to indulge in the shifting of gears using the two paddle shifters located on the back of the steering wheel, just for the pleasure of listening to the engine. Its grip when cornering and its overall steering stability are both excellent. On the other hand, the power-assisted steering lacks feeling, while the automatic gearbox sometimes hesitates to downshift. Also noted was the slightly low-end feel of some of the elements of the interior.

A Levante soon in your driveway?
These few quibbles aside, the 2017 Maserati Levante delivers high levels of exclusivity, luxury and driving pleasure. Factor in the Ferrari-made engine and a suggested retail price of $89,600, and you end up with a product that could appeal to many a luxury-SUV buyer. 


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Buying used: Porsche Panamera v Mercedes CLS

Two secondhand luxury four-door coupes but which is the most alluring of all?

The luxury four-door coupe is a relatively new concept that sparked new style into a traditionally rather staid and upright sector. They combine curvaceous and low-slung looks with four-door, four-seat accommodation worthy of the rich and famous, and rightly are well liked by luxury car buyers who don’t want a boring old saloon.

Two models stand head and shoulders above the rest – the Porsche Panamera and Mercedes-Benz CLS. Today, secondhand examples are something of a bargain: a six-year old Panamera costs less than half the price of a new one, while you can a second generation CLS from little more than £15,000 – that’s half the price of the Porsche again, for a same-age 2011 car. We bought both together to find out which is best, and if the Porsche’s premium is worth it.

Mercedes-Benz CLS350 CDI Sport

Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new: £52,983
Price today: £15,500
Power: 261bhp
Torque: 457lb ft
0-60mph: 6.2sec
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: 46.3mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 160g/km

Driving experience

There was a surprise straight away: the Merc’s creamy 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine actually outdragged the Porsche in the 0-62mph dash, by more than half a second. The Porsche isn’t slow, but the CDI engine in the CLS is the better all-rounder, with all bases covered. Ride quality was the second surprise: it was the Mercedes that rode more firmly than the svelte Porsche, resulting in less lean and more control in bends.

Believe it or not, the sporty Porsche is quieter than the luxurious Mercedes, with a lack of engine, wind and even road noise: the latter is what spoils the refinement of the CLS at speed. Indeed, it’s only really in its immaculate steering feel and feedback that the Porsche truly lives up to preconceptions.


It draws ahead inside too, with an immaculate interior that looks simply gorgeous. It brilliantly blends supercar with luxury car, making the driver feel so special, you can even forgive it for the sea of switches on the centre console. Supportive seats give a good driving position, just as they do in the Mercedes, although the CLS’ dashboard can’t match the Panamera for style or luxury. Merc’s infotainment system is fiddly as well.

There’s yet another surprise when it comes to practicality, for the Porsche has the better hatchback boot, complete with standard easy-fold split rear seats. It’s not quite as big as the CLS with the seats up, but far bigger with them down – few buyers choose the split seat option on the Mercedes. As for interior space, both are more than fine for four adults: there’s less accommodation than in a four-door saloon, but still enough for six-footers.

Porsche Panamera

Engine: 3.0-litre diesel
List price when new: £62,134
Price today: £31,000
Power: 246bhp
Torque: 406lb ft
0-60mph: 6.8sec
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy:43.5mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 172g/km

Running costs

The advantage naturally swings back to the Mercedes when it comes to costs. Not only is this six-year old one half the price of the Porsche, you could buy a two-year old example for what you’d spend on the Panamera and still enjoy some of Merc’s new car warranty. The CLS is more fuel efficient as well, with lower CO2 emissions.

Surprisingly, there’s little difference in servicing costs; it’s actually the Porsche that has a small advantage here, because of the firm’s menu-based service pricing. Mercedes doesn’t offer this. Both are complex cars that will benefit from official servicing – we certainly wouldn’t buy either without a full service history, a good warranty and maybe even a full vehicle inspection.


No two ways about it, the Porsche Panamera is an impressive car. It’s a remarkably practical machine that delivers sports car sensations to the driver, yet is still an accommodating luxury spectacle for four people to sit in. But is it worth twice as much as the Mercedes-Benz CLS? We don’t think so.

The CLS is the real surprise here. It’s a class act on the road, surprisingly sporty to drive, is very well equipped and although the interior can’t match the Panamera, it still oozes class. All for a price half as much as the Porsche: in our book, that makes it an absolute bargain, and the clear used car four-door coupe winner here.

Mercedes-Benz CLS350

Porsche Panamera

Mercedes-Benz CLS350

Porsche Panamera

Mercedes-Benz CLS350

Porsche Panamera

Volvo XC60 SUV

The transformation of Volvo is now in full swing, with the new Volvo XC60 SUV joining the bigger Volvo XC90 SUV, Volvo S90 saloon and Volvo V90 estate in redefining the Swedish brand as a premium marque on a level playing field with Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar and Land Rover. It does, however, mean the XC60 is now more expensive than before.

Replacing the XC60 has been no small task – it’s Volvo’s best-selling car of all time after all, so perfecting it using technology honed from the XC90 was wise. Shared design traits are easy to spot, including Volvo’s characteristic ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED daytime running lights, an upright grille emblazoned with the Volvo badge and a distinctive rear end with pronounced shoulders. But the XC60 also has a lower, curvier and sportier look than the XC90.

Its Thor's Hammer LED daytime running lights and uprights grille might be derived from the XC90, but the XC60 is sportier

The engines are familiar from the latest Volvo models, too, all being 2.0 litres in capacity, with the diesel models expected to account for the bulk of sales. Every model gets four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, including the entry-level D4 diesel with 187bhp, which gets from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and returns up to 54.3mpg. The D5 PowerPulse increases power to 232bhp, cutting 1.2 seconds off the acceleration figure but only dropping fuel consumption to 51.4mpg.

For now, there’s only one petrol option, badged T5, which is slightly faster than the diesels (0-62mph in 6.8 seconds) thanks to its 251bhp turbocharged engine, but well off the pace of high-performance versions of the Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Macan. A T8 plug-in hybrid is also expected, with a serious 402bhp yet CO2 emissions of just 49g/km and a Benefit-in-Kind rating of 9% to woo company-car drivers.

The XC60 also feels more relaxed when you head out on the road, with less to reward the driver than an F-Pace. On the plus side, the optional air suspension offers impressive ride comfort and refinement, even taking into account the 20-inch alloy wheels.

Despite the XC60 sleek design, Volvo hasn’t sacrificed practicality and there’s enough room for five people. Knee, shoulder and headroom are all plentiful in the front and back, but as in most rivals, the middle rear seat is too firm for long trips, so is best used only in a pinch. The car’s boot measures 505 litres, beating the Lexus NX and Porsche Macan, but 145 litres smaller than the F-Pace’s.

Offering similar economy to the D4, the 51.4mpg D5 PowerPulse has 232bhp and gets from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds

Trim levels are called Momentum, R-Design and Inscription, but there’s also a Pro version of each, which adds its own suite of convenience and technology upgrades. Even from the off, the XC60 is a very well equipped SUV, with highlights including the nine-inch portrait infotainment screen from the XC90, DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav, 18-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate and keyless entry.

The R-Design trim brings a sporty flavour, mainly thanks to exterior and interior styling changes comprising of larger wheels, dual exhaust pipes, sports seats, a black headlining and firmer suspension, while Inscription adds luxury. Go for the range-topper and the XC60 feels far more upmarket than its predecessor, boasting Nappa leather seats and ambient lighting to lift the ambiance.

Being a Volvo, safety equipment is also comprehensive and innovative, so it seems almost inevitable the XC60 will not only get a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score, but probably take class honours, too. As well as autonomous emergency braking, the XC60 now features a system designed to avoid head-on collisions and the optional Pilot Assist provides semi-autonomous driving.

While reliability will be somewhat unknown for at least a year or two, the previous Volvo XC60 scored well with owners in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming 33rd out of 150 models, while the Volvo brand itself came 13th out of 32.

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Review: Ford GT

A Ford costing £420,000

It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? A Ford, costing well over £400,000. Does it sit in the range somewhere north of the Fiesta and the Focus? But this is a Ford like no other. It’s won Le Mans, it may well win again. And it’s not like the other GTE race cars from Aston Martin or Porsche. They are road cars turned into racers. This is a racer that has somehow been turned into a road car.

It also didn’t go through one of those immense management-engineering cycles where it disappears for years into hundreds of computers before appearing bland and conforming. The concept simply disappeared, along with a small team of engineers. When this proper skunkworks team reappeared, they had created the GT. Cue consternation at management level.

2017 Ford GT

Price: £420,000
Engine. 3.5-litre, V6, twin-turbo, petrol
Power: 647bhp
Torque: 550lb/ft
Gearbox: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Kerb weight: 1385kg (dry)
0-60mph: 2.8sec
Top speed: 216mph
Economy: 14mpg (est)
CO2/tax band: n/a

And then cue consternation everywhere else. This is like the GT40 but more so. One of the first things you notice is how incredibly low it is, just 1063mm, that’s only 41.8 inch. It’s barely waist height, just like the GT40. It’s wide too, at 2003mm. You sit low, which may not surprise you, in a carbonfibre tub with a built-in rollcage. Driver and passenger are very close together in there, in a way you wouldn’t be if this was a converted road car.

And behind sits a Ford Ecoboost engine. True, it’s a 3.5-litre V6, twin-turbo’d until it makes 647bhp, but it’s still an Ecoboost engine. It powers the rear wheels through a Getrag seven-speed.
That engine may be a slight nod to Ford’s road cars, and there are a few other nods, like some composite chassis materials they’re working on which may one day appear in a road car. Also early experience ended up with lots of blown head gaskets. They figured out why, improved the design and then made sure the road cars get the improved design as well.

Because of the GTE regulations, a manufacturer has to make a certain number of road cars, which normally isn’t a problem as that’s where the racer came from. In this case it’s reversed – which can’t please the other manufacturers much. You’re in no doubt this is a racer first and foremost. You can’t adjust the driver’s seat, instead you adjust the pedals to reach. And who has a rear wing that can affect not just downforce but also drag by operating in two planes?

The suspension is similarly very trick indeed, with two springs at each corner, one coil one torsion bar, offering differing heights for road or race. Go into Track mode and the coil spring is compressed and locked out by dropping the ride height – and it drops quickly – 50mm so the spring rate doubles.

It doesn’t feel that sophisticated in the cabin, which has the sort of plastics you wouldn’t find in a Fiesta. And the noise is simply echoed around, so you wouldn’t want to go on holiday in a GT. And yet. The handling and ride are just beyond astonishing. Cars that can race for 24 hours often have a softness to them that shorter duration racers don’t have, but in this instance it’s so marked it’s beyond amazing.

There’s a compliance and a comfort here that is better than anything else many road testers would ever have experienced, no matter how long they’d been doing the job. Which makes you think this is going to be amazing. And it sort of is and sort of isn’t.

It handles brilliantly, with a great deal of grip, and an agile and responsive demeanour. It’s certainly fast – note the 0-62mph time of under three seconds on the way to 216mph. Those figures are most definitely believable, this thing motors at a phenomenal rate. And yet you end up feeling a bit disconnected.

The steering doesn’t tell you much, and the brakes have too much servo assistance and the noise – well, it’s loud and rough and raucous. Something like an Aston Martin would never be delivered making a noise like that. It’s honest, you could give it that.

Even on the track, this stays the same situation. The suspension remains above criticism, allowing you to attack kerbs where you’d stay clear in some other racers. Drive it like a racer and this is a full-on racing car, no question. Ford says the GT is quicker on every race track its tried when it benchmarked against the McLaren 675LT.

But which one would you rather drive on the road? Perhaps that’s carping. Who cares about the cabin materials or whether it doesn’t sound that sophisticated? This is an endurance racing car, a proven winner, the real deal. And you can drive this racer on the road. Well, in theory you could.

Ford made 1000 of the GT, more than it needed to to comply with the regulations. It will make them over the next four years and they’re all sold out. This is an epic example of chutzpah, a mainstream car manufacturer coming out with a pure racer that it manages to convert to road use. It’s a very in-your-face thing to do and we applaud Ford for having the guts to take such a high-risk strategy and succeed.

Whether it’s a great road car is another matter, but perhaps that doesn’t really matter. And who knows, maybe in this instance racing really will improve the breed.

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Review: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS 3.0

What happens when you max out the normal 911? Magic, that’s what

The 911 GTS range are becoming racing cars with registration plates.

Because the GTS builds upon normal 911s, you can get coupe, cabriolet and Targa versions, plus rear- or four-wheel drive, even choose between manual or PDK paddleshift gearboxes. Despite all this choice, we honed in on the one we reckon is most perfect of all – the manual rear-wheel drive coupe.

It comes as standard with some important additions over more basic models, specifically PASM adaptive suspension and a lowered sports suspension setup. It has the wider rear end normally seen on four-wheel drive variants, and a 3.0-litre turbo engine with a 30bhp power hike, taking it up to 444bhp.

Love those wheels? They’re centre-lock rims from the Turbo, and fitted as standard to the GTS. Other desirable detail additions include extra aero bits for the front and rear wings, a ‘black pack’ makeover for the wheels, exhausts and headlight glass plus, inside, tactile Alcantara upholstery.

On the road, in this exact spec, it’s divine. The sheer amount of feel, balance and general driver confidence it delivers is little short of miraculous. Handling is exceptional and although 30bhp doesn’t sound like a great deal, it makes a big difference in real life. Build on the revs and the engine comes alive, feeling more like a purist non-turbo engine than any of Porsche’s new-gen turbo engines has up to now.

Porsche 911 GTS

Price: £95,795
Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, twin-turbo, petrol
Power: 444bhp
Torque: 405lb/ft
0-62mph: 4.1sec
Top speed: 193mph
Gearbox: Seven-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1525kg
Economy: 30.1mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 212g/km, 37%

Point of fact: 444bhp makes it the most powerful rear-wheel drive 911 not to wear a GT badge, ever. Combine this with such a stunning chassis and you’ve driving nirvana. Few modern cars will deliver this much satisfaction when feeling the nose bite hard as you plunge towards a corner apex, feeling the engine’s huge pull sitting that squat rear end down on the rear tyres, right on the edge of grip, to drive you hard out the other end.

It’s a car that delivers all the legendary 911 feel. Indeed, it serves up an experience not too far removed from the range-topping GT3, all for a price you could even call good value: optioning the power kit and suspension changes alone to a normal Carrera S takes it up almost to the list price of the GTS, and you’d still miss out on the wide body, styling tweaks and Turbo wheels.

We think the question is simple. In the market for a 911 and don’t fancy a GT3? The question is why you shouldn’t pick a GTS, rather than why you should. If you want to buy a new 911, this magnificent model should be your automatic choice.

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2017 Porsche Macan GTS review: The driver’s crossover

I went into this with visions of $100K-plus Macans dancing in my head — frankly this one costs less than I thought it might. It’s got pretty much everything on it you could want, and I would have guessed the price was north of $100K.

If you’re in the camp that thinks Porsche building Macans and Cayennes has destroyed its very soul, then you’ll be happy to know the GTS isn’t a sports car, and you can sit by the fire in your den and smugly laugh. Realize two things, though: One, the Cayenne literally saved the company, and two, this thing ain’t bad as far as driver’s cars go. The AWD is rear-wheel biased, and, even in the slickish conditions, I couldn’t tell when it was sending torque toward the front. The Macan feels easy to drive quickly to me. The handling is great, too; the body roll is impressively low and the steering spot-on.

After a brief hesitation as the turbos get their act together, it’s also fast from a stop in sport mode. I played around with the paddles and they snap off the shifts quickly, but they really aren’t necessary — you won’t miss much if you don’t feel like messing with them because the trans shifts about where you would anyway.

The interior is mostly fine, though the center console is a bit busy: There are 30 buttons on there. Yes, I counted them.

Overall, though, this is another terrific Porsche.

–Wes Raynal, editor


Very sneaky, Porsche, you made that twin-turbo V6 sound like a flat-six on purpose! Then you made this Macan GTS deceptively fast. It doesn’t snap your neck off the starting block, but once it gets going, torque just stays high and flat through all seven gears. I found myself scarily close to triple digits while still feeling 100 percent in control, like I was doing 60 mph. That engine really has the flat-six … hum? Buzz? Not roar. Yell, maybe? Also like Porsche’s flat engines, it doesn’t sound great at idle (speak for yourself, Jake — Ed.).

Like I said, it doesn’t fling off the line, but once you get past 3,000 rpm or so, it flies. There’s zero hesitation between gears with Porsche’s PDK and, unlike Wes, I had a hell of time snapping gears up and down with the paddles.

I thought the brakes weren’t as linear as I would have liked, and they went down a little far, too. Granted, some of that is the nature of test cars, but sometimes when I got to the stopping point of the pedal, I had to give it some extra force to scrub off that last 10 mph. Kinda weird, but the Macan seems to like being hammered on. I bet it would make quite an entertaining track car, crossover body be damned.

Steering is light but quick. Not R8 or Alfa quick, but it’s still very sharp. It’ll still dice up traffic at well over the posted speed, and the whole package feels nimble from the driver’s seat.

Inside, the seats are heavily bolstered — good for my narrow frame — but you do have to hop over the side bottom bolster to get in. I love Alcantara trim, especially on the steering wheel. Not only does it keep warm in the winter, it just feels good in the hand. I haven’t said this in a while, but I still wonder how that would hold up over 10 years of sweat and use.

The radio/nav worked perfectly and connected to my iPhone immediately with AppleCar Play. Thankfully you can use the native navigation system while still using Play. Some cars don’t allow that. I still love the clock in the analog center and the huge panoramic roof. 

Moving to tech, the lane-keeping system didn’t vibrate or push back, it just made an alert sound, which is better. Sometimes you need to make a quick lane change sans signal, and I don’t want to be pushed back on. The parking sensors though, WTF? They kept going off when I was plodding along in traffic. There has to be some system where it knows if you’re in driving lanes or something — this is the first car in which I’ve noticed it.

For the enthusiast, Porsche is on another level. It’s hard to find a car to compare it to because dynamically, it’s near-perfect. I too would have guessed our Macan GTS came in more expensive than $80K. I would really have no problem ditching the leather and suede, even though I like it, and the Premium Plus package. At that point, it’s $72K or so — and possibly the most fun crossover on the market. 

–Jake Lingeman, road test editor

Options: Leather interior in black with Alcantara ($4,790); Premium Package Plus, including automatically dimming mirrors, heated front and rear seats, panoramic roof, Porsche entry and drive ($3,390); navigation module for Porsche Communication Management ($1,730); Connect Plus ($1,300); heated multifunction steering wheel in Alcantara ($840); Carrara White Metallic ($690); trailer hitch without tow ball ($650)

By Autoweek Staff

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $68,250

As Tested Price: $81,640

Drivetrain: 3.0-liter DOHC turbocharged V6; AWD, seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic

Output: 360 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1,650-4,000 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,178 lb

Fuel Economy: 17/23/19 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Pros: Quick reflexes, little body roll, ready for all weather

Cons: Busy center stack, finicky parking sensors

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Ford GT supercar (2017) review

► Ford GT supercar driven
► We test it on road and track
► Le Mans winning, £450k + taxes 

Almost a year after it won its class at Le Mans, over two years since the road car debuted at the Detroit show, we’ve finally driven the Ford GT on track at the Ford Performance Racing School in Utah, and on twisting public roads.

The first customers – having passed an application process and agreeing not to sell their cars for a couple of years, maybe three, depending on who you ask – have already taken delivery.

They’ll have paid at least £450k before options and taxes, with 250 cars per year planned for the next four years.That’s double the price of a Lamborghini Aventador S, but the first couple of years’ production is already snapped up

Didn’t Ford need to sell a road car before they raced?

Ah, yes, that. Ford received special dispensation to race at Le Mans before the GT entered production. The fact that the GT raced before it was a road car is quite crucial: the GT was designed specially to win the LMGTE class at Le Mans – the top road-car-based class – to mark 50 years since Ford beat Ferrari to top honours at La Sarthe with the GT40 driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.

Development work started only in 2013, led by former Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak and his team at Ford Performance, shortly after the ‘Project Silver’ Ford Mustang Le Mans programme was canned because it was drifting so far away from the production car design.

Hear Dave Pericak talk about the Ford GT on video

Ford GT supercar review: the CAR road test

Pericak and his team started fresh with a clean-sheet design, determined to create the ultimate GT to win at Le Mans – the suspension, the bodywork, the structure, all of it is far more exotic than a Ferrari 488’s or Porsche 911’s. It’s a racecar that’s become a road car, not the other way round, but the two were developed synchronously.

What’s so special about the Ford GT spec, then?

The Ford GT is built around a carbonfibre tub, the 45 pieces that comprise it bonded together, and that bonding said to soak up any small variability in production. All the body panels are carbonfibre too. The dry weight of the ‘Competition Pack’ car –without air-con, and with carbon wheels and titanium exhaust – is 1385kg, around 100kg more than a McLaren 720S. The regular Ford GT adds a further 60kg, and that’s the car we’re driving.

Similar to LaFerrari, the seats are fixed to the carbonfibre tub and don’t move, though the back rests do recline – they’re not actually moulded into the tub. Instead of moving the seat, you adjust the pedal box and steering column to suit. Virtually all controls – from drive modes to wipers and indicators – are combined in the steering wheel.

Ford GT: a pretty radical supercar

The rollcage is built into the upper structure. You can’t see it because it’s hidden behind trim that looks like most production cars’, but it requires only add-on components to turn into the racecar’s full cage. 

The suspension is by double-wishbones, but there’s a pretty radical twist on the inboard pushrod set up. The pushrod acts on two springs: one, a torsion bar, is active all the time; the second, a conventional spring, is active until you select Track mode. At that point it’s hydraulically locked out by an actuator; it becomes solid and the spring rate effectively doubles.

The pushrod also acts on the DSSV adaptive dampers, which are actually mounted at the front of the cockpit, out of sight. All this has freed up more space to manage airflow under the car.

With the rear wing deployed, active vents open up in the lower front splitter to channel air through vents behind the front wheel arch, increasing front downforce. When the wing drops down, those front vents close, reducing front downforce to suit.

Streamlined, flat underbody for Ford GT

The floating buttress design is the stand-out feature of a beautifully technical and highly evocative body. Not only do the buttresses help channel air along the flanks to the rear wing, they also carry air inside them, piping it from the intercoolers to the engine inlet.

A 3.5-litre V6 Ecoboost was key in creating the body’s teardrop shape, the small engine allowing the design team to tightly package the bodywork around it. Dry-sumped, the all-aluminium engine produces 647bhp and 550lb ft.

What’s the Ford GT 2017 cabin like?

It’s tight and tricky to get into, a by-product of Ford designing a car with the smallest frontal area in its class to reduce drag. The low roof, thick carbonfibre sill and dihedral door all hinder access, and when you’re inside there’s very little headroom – at six-feet-one, I had an inch of headroom and had to recline the seat a little to snick my head under the rooflining when wearing a crash helmet. Rubbing shoulders with your passenger is inevitable. The seats are high on support, but while the bases are comfortable, the cut-outs in the seatbacks may prove irritating if you’re double-stinting.

Unlacquered carbonfibre is everywhere, including the instrument panel, which is integral to the structure. It creates a serious, functional, racey feel and adds a sense of occasion, but it’s not in the least luxurious. Leather or Alcantara trim adds some interest, but you’ll still notice the dated sat-nav and the parts-bins controls. Some of the trim on the door casing’s arm rest was already deteriorating on one of the test cars.

How does the GT supercar feel on track?

Very impressive. There are five drive modes to select: Wet, Normal, Sport, Track and V-Max. Choose Track and the suspension drops instantly from 120mm to 70mm (making the GT just 1.8 inches taller than the original GT40’s 40 inches at the top of the windscreen) and the rear spoiler extends on its hydraulic struts. It’s a fantastic bit of theatre that makes the McLaren P1’s transformation to max-attack mode look a little long-winded. Downforce increases from a max of 45kg to 154kg at a stroke.

Ford GT supercar review

Despite the intimidation you may feel looking at the GT or sitting in its serious-feeling interior, it’s easy to settle into driving it quickly. The chassis feels flat and composed, hungry to change direction with a flick of your wrists, the suspension far from too stiff despite the massive increase in spring rate with Track mode.

It’s blindingly fast, obviously: 0-62mph takes a quoted 2.8sec, while top speed is a claimed 216mph.

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There’s a little fuzziness to the brake pedal at first, but push past that and the carbon ceramics are easy to modulate, and wipe off speed like a parachute; I braked as late as I dared and still felt I could have gone much deeper.

The steering is hydraulically assisted and feels precise and quick-witted from the second you wind it off-centre. It’s progressive, relatively heavy – if far from too heavy – weighting giving you real confidence to lean on the front end. When you do there’s deep reserves of grip from the 20-inch Michelin Pilot Cup Sport tyres with their huge, almost slick shoulders. The confidence that provides allows you to quickly work up to the point where the front grip is starting to bleed very progressively into light understeer.

Ford GT: side profile

Naturally, a car with 647bhp and 550lb ft feels extremely rear-biased, and while there’s an impressive level of traction, there’s more than enough torque to overwhelm the rear tyres; you have to feed in the long travel accelerator gently out of tighter corners. Lift the throttle in faster turns and the GT quickly tightens its line, but its progressive and well-balanced. Get too excited and the stability control still gives you time to tidy up your exuberance; nicely judged.

How about the 3.5-litre V6 engine? 

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. 647bhp and 550lb ft is a lot of performance, but the game has moved on since we first saw the Ford GT. The McLaren 720S, for instance, makes 710bhp and 568lb ft but costs ‘just’ £209k.

Then there’s the fact it’s a turbocharged V6, which can’t hold a candle to the Italian exotics in terms of vocal range – peak power is all done by 6250rpm – and sounds rather gruff, especially at idle; think more Noble than supercar nobility. But there are good points: throttle response is very sparky, giving you a great sense of connection to the rear axle, every flex of ankle yielding a response; no turbo mush here.

Ford GT: the new 2017 supercar

From Sport mode, you get an anti-lag function that keeps the boost spinning without burning fuel, for rapid-response to make a Westminster firearms team look dozy. And when you wind up the revs, the soundtrack steps up a notch, sounding exciting and much more sophisticated than the idle note leads you to expect.

And this is a fast car, with good driveability low-down, excellent mid-range thrust and a strong top end. We noticed differences in the two cars we drove, though. One seemed to boost hard from 2700rpm, the other much further into the threes, and while the 2700rpm car got a second wind at 5500rpm and accelerated with some proper ferocity to the redline, the other was much more progressive and less dramatic.

The V6 is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle. It shifts quickly, but there’s a woolly edge to the engagement, and downshifts aren’t always delivered when you ask; those Le Mans rivals Ferrari and Porsche give you sharper shifts for a more satisfyingly mechanical feel.

What’s the Ford GT like on the road?

There’s still a lot to like: the suspension is impressively compliant in its softest setting while still maintaining great body control, and the stuff that stands out on track does translate to the road. There’s a quick-witted front end, bags of front end to lean on in corners, great brakes and a poised, rear-biased feel. It flows down a challenging road very nicely indeed.

But it falls down in terms of refinement, and feels very much like a racecar put on the road. Transverse ridges thunk through the carbon chassis, there’s buzzy resonance through the cabin, some frequencies that build up through the steering add more to NVH than they do to feel, and the active rear wing slams back into the bodywork so fiercely you wonder if it hasn’t fallen off. 

Ford GT alloy wheels: lightweight

Strangely, I also felt the GT’s lack of pace relative to the opposition more keenly on the road – perhaps because Track mode has more aggressive throttle mapping, perhaps because you’re leaning so hard on the chassis on track that you couldn’t use much more performance anyway, where you get more straight-line time on the road. It’s quick, no doubt about it, but rivals have taken it to another level again.


The Ford GT is an exciting, enjoyable car to drive, and one that’s quite incredible to see a mainstream company like Ford producing. The beautiful design, the carbonfibre construction and clever suspension and aerodynamics, the fact that it’s pretty sensational to drive on track and thrilling on the road too – it should be celebrated for all that. But it’s also incredibly expensive, has a V6 engine that can’t come close to the excitement of a Ferrari V8 or Lamborghini V12 either in terms of performance or soundtrack, and its racecar origins are just a bit too obvious on the road, with vibrations, clunks and odd noises that spoil refinement without really adding any sort of hardcore depth to the experience.

Some might argue the rough edges are all part of the Ford GT’s racecar-for-the-road appeal, but at £450k-plus, customers should expect more, and I suspect smoothing off those edges would make the GT not only easier to live with, but better to drive too.

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Porsche 911 GT3 review: new manual 4.0-litre driven

The new Porsche 911 GT3 is good, right?

Oh yes, it’s safe to say we’re fans after driving the PDK version on UK roads. But we also got a chance to drive the new Porsche 911 GT3 on road and track at the official launch. And there, they had a couple of manuals.

Ah, the fabled manual GT3, the automotive Second Coming… 

Yup. Purists rejoice, Porsche’s most focused model now comes with a choice of transmissions. There’s the seven-speed PDK with its paddleshift, but also a six-speed manual with three pedals and a stick, which we’re in here.

Well, how does it drive?

Every bit as convincingly as the GT3 PDK, which, given it is absolutely epic, is some accolade.

We’ll admit that after experiencing the ferocity of the new 493bhp 4.0-litre flat-six engine’s performance and response, we were a little concerned that the six-speed manual might be a little bit overwhelmed. It. Just. Isn’t.

Yes, it’s slower – half a second to 62mph for a 3.9sec time – and loses an electronically controlled rear limited slip differential for a mechanical one, but you’ll just not care.

If you’re cornered by a pub bore about PDK being quicker, throw back the higher top speed the manual offers (199mph vs 198mph), and the fact it’s 17kg lighter overall. Not that you’ll ever stop in a pub if you’ve got one of these to drive.  

It’s better then?

We’re not going to call that now. It’s different. Thing is, it still feels ludicrously fast, that new engine’s new-found low-rev flexibility, combined with its insatiable appetite for revs, makes for one of the most compelling drivers’ cars we’ve ever sat in.

And the noise, too. You really have to hear this thing to believe it. The way the engine’s note hardens as it reaches its 9,000rpm redline is like little else. Lesser sound deadening and that pared-back interior only add to the all-encompassing, intoxicating racecar notes.

The manual transmission adds to all of that again. It’s borrowed largely from the 911 R, though Porsche GT department deity Andreas Preuninger admits they’ve fiddled with it a bit.

The result is a shift that’s beautifully mechanical and precise in its action, and as quick as you need it to be. That’s to say very rapid indeed, given the engine’s intensity. 

Add a clutch pedal that’s perfectly weighted and a brake pedal that’s neatly positioned to roll off for heel and toe downshifts and you’ll never feel the need to press the Sport button that rev-matches on downshifts.

So it’s the one you’d have?

For me, no question, but then I’d also respect your decision to buy a PDK, as they’re both brilliant cars. Choice is a good thing, and in the GT3 it’s a very good thing, as the entire package is so damn convincing.

The new 4.0-litre engine (derived from the GT3 Cup car) is an absolute masterpiece, and the chassis it’s attached is so accomplished, yet approachable and enjoyable. The manual adds another layer to that, certainly regarding physical interaction, but, more crucially, enjoyment at lower speeds.

There’s an input/reward thing going on driving the manual, and while we’ll admit it’s ancient tech in a world of millisecond paddleshifts, it still feels entirely relevant, and, importantly, up to the job.

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2017 Ford GT First Drive: The Right Stuff

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Lights flicker across the top of the steering wheel as the exhaust note builds to a full-throated bellow. Green, red, blue … shift now! Fingertips snick the right-hand paddle, a delicate, precise motion that barely interrupts the surge of acceleration. Corner! Left foot hard on the brakes, the carbon-ceramic rotors instantly turning forward motion into heat energy. Snick, snick on the left-hand paddle, a corresponding braap-braap from the engine as the dual-clutch transmission smoothly drops two gears. Now the magic happens.

The front tires respond the split-second the steering wheel is moved off-center. Left, right, left … The low-slung, futuristic coupe dances through the S-bend with impossible speed. It’s light on its feet yet preternaturally calm, a prima ballerina in carbon fiber and aluminum. Squeeze on the gas, feel the precise moment the rear tires reach the limit of adhesion, and slow-hand opposite lock to maintain a gentle drift on the exit of the last left-hander. The agility! The precision! The calm, concise, constant dialogue with the chassis through your fingers and toes and the seat of your pants: This is a supercar like no other. This is a Ford like no other.

That’s right. A Ford. The 2017 Ford GT is a remarkable car, not just for what it does but also for what it is.

More on the Ford GT here:

2017 Ford GT front three quarters

2017 Ford GT front three quarters

Ford calls the GT “a race car for the road,” and for once that’s not marketing hype. The GT was born from a fierce desire among a small cadre of enthusiasts in Dearborn to race a car at Le Mans in 2016, and—hopefully—celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford’s epic 1-2-3 finish in the legendry 24 Hour race with another victory over Ferrari, although this time in the GTE class for production cars. The original plan, codenamed Project Silver, was to race a Mustang. But when the team, headed by Ford product development chief Raj Nair, figured out how extensively it would need to be modified to make it competitive with the Ferrari 488, the idea was dropped.

But beating Ferrari once more at Le Mans was an itch Nair and his team, which included the newly minted head of Ford Performance, former Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak, and Ford Americas design director Chris Svensson, just had to scratch.

The GT was born out of a skunkworks program authorized by Nair, but it was kept off the radar and out of sight to all but a mere handful of staffers in design and engineering. Working out of a padlocked basement in Ford’s Product Development Center, with meetings held after hours and on weekends, the team focused on creating an all-new sports car that could win at Le Mans. Crucially, though, it also had to be able to be built and sold as a road car to qualify for the GTE class. Everyone understood they were talking about building an all-new Ford GT.
2017 Ford GT rear three quarter

2017 Ford GT rear three quarter

The decision to build the new GT around Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 was made early, and not just because using an engine that promoted the company’s EcoBoost branding would make selling the idea easier to Bill Ford, Alan Mulally, and Mark Fields but also because the engine’s compact dimensions could make the car smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic. The team developed the GT engine in plain sight, fitting it to the Riley-Ford Daytona prototype raced by Chip Ganassi’s team in the United SportsCar Championship. “At the time Mr. Ganassi didn’t actually know what we were asking him to do other than race the engine in the prototype series,” Pericak says. “What we were doing was proving out our technology.”

Meanwhile, Svensson and a small team of 12 designers and modelers were shaping a radical take on the mid-engine supercar. The team had decided on three possible themes: one that reworked cues from the iconic GT40, one that optimized performance efficiency, and one that focused on sheer beauty. What you see in the new Ford GT is all of the above. “When we had the first review with Raj,” Svensson says, “he said ‘you’re going to take all three and wrap them up in a single entity.’ ”

Once the clay models were done, Nair had what Pericak describes as a slightly uncomfortable conversation with Ford, Mulally, and Fields—”you’re not supposed to be using company resources for something that’s not approved”—and brought them down to the locked basement room to see what his team had been doing in their spare time. “They saw one of the most beautiful cars they’d ever seen,” Pericak grins. “The sell after that wasn’t too hard.”

With Ford’s top brass on board, the new Ford GT, now codenamed Project Phoenix, was a go, though the car’s existence remained a tightly guarded secret. And with the 2016 Le Mans race less than two years away, the pressure on the development team was intense. “We simultaneously designed the road car and the race car, and we engineered both at the same time,” Svensson says. “There was a constant back and forth between engineering and design, which was unlike anything I’ve ever done on any car program.”
2017 Ford GT front three quarter in motion 04 1

2017 Ford GT front three quarter in motion 04 1

Key goals for the Project Phoenix team were low weight, high aerodynamic efficiency, and big horsepower. So the GT is almost entirely made from carbon fiber and aluminum. The carbon tub narrows dramatically toward the rear, and the driver and passenger sit shoulder to shoulder. To save space, the seats are fixed—the cushions are right on the floor—and the steering wheel and pedals move instead. The dash, with airways for the HVAC molded in, is an integral part of the tub structure. There’s a small nav screen and HVAC controls at the center of the dash, a start button, a rotary gear selector and some minor switches on a wafer-thin center console, and a digital instrument panel, which we’ll see a version of in the 2018 Mustang. All other controls are on the race car–style steering wheel.

The GT rides on suspension similar to that of an F1 car, featuring pushrods that actuate remotely mounted springs connected to trick Multimatic DSSV spool-valve shocks via short torsion bars. Underneath is a race car–style aerodynamic floor, and at the rear a wing that not only deploys to increase downforce but also changes its shape.

But here’s what you all want to know: Can you really have a supercar with a six-cylinder engine?

One exhilarating thrash along a winding road, one hot lap of any race track, one searing full-throttle charge to V-max, emphatically answers that question: Oh yes, you can. With 647 hp at 6,250 rpm and 550 lb-ft of torque at 5,900 rpm, the Ford GT has more power than a Ferrari 458 and more torque than a McLaren 675LT—and they are both powered by V-8s.

In Normal mode, the EcoBoost V-6 is as docile and tractable around town as it is in an F-150. The seven-speed Getrag dual-clutch transmission smoothly shuffles between ratios. Switch to Sport or Track modes, however, activating the anti-lag system that reduces time-to-torque at 3,000 rpm from 1.2 seconds to 0.7 second, and the beast within awakes. Nail the gas, and the engine’s dreary part-throttle drone explodes into a gut-wrenching wall of sound as you’re shoved back into the seat by a violent surge of acceleration.

The Ford guys won’t give away too much about the anti-lag system, but all you need to know is it works. Throttle response is instant, urgent, and incandescent, feeding surgically precise measures of torque to the rear tires. In V-max mode, where the active aerodynamics are configured to deliver minimal drag—and the stability control is set as tight as possible because there’s not a lot of downforce as a result—Ford says the GT will hit 216 mph. So forget the cylinder count and rejoice in the fact that not only does the GT have the most powerful EcoBoost engine built, but it also has one of the the most powerful engine Ford has ever put into a street-legal car. Period.

Apart from the droning exhaust note at cruising speeds—by far the engine’s worst characteristic and something Ford engineers are still working to fix—the GT’s powertrain is mighty impressive. But its chassis is better. Because it’s so low and so light—claimed dry weight is just over 3,050 pounds—the GT is stupendously good on the change of direction, arguably better than pretty much any other supercar in the business. It’s so agile, so instantaneously responsive to steering inputs, yet it remains beautifully balanced and composed on the follow through. You know exactly what the front and rear tires are doing at any time, and you can adjust the car’s attitude through corners at will with the throttle. The GT might be a 647-hp, 216-mph mid-engine supercar, but it feels as playful and trustworthy as a Miata.

All this chassis magic is accomplished with surprisingly little electronic trickery by 21st century supercar standards. There are three drive main modes: Normal, Sport, and Track. In Normal mode the ride height is set at 4.7 inches, the rear wing deploys at 90 mph, and an additional Comfort setting is available to further calm the ride on rough roads. Selecting Sport mode activates the anti-lag system, reduces the traction control system’s level of intervention, and allows the rear wing to deploy at 70 mph. Although body motions are tautly controlled, the GT rides remarkably well for a light car on low-profile tires, with much less noise and impact harshness than a Porsche 911 GT3.
2017 Ford GT track mode 1

2017 Ford GT track mode 1

Track mode, which can only be selected while the car is stationary, is the GT’s party trick. The rear wing shoots up, and the car instantly drops 2 inches, like a race car dropping off the jacks in pit lane, as the coil springs are compressed by a high-pressure hydraulic system that also controls the steering, transmission, and rear wing. The spring rate is now stiffer all round, courtesy of the short torsion bars between the compressed coils and the shocks. Even so, the GT remains unfazed by mid-corner lumps and bumps, and it happily rides the curbing through corners. The active aerodynamics deliver superb high-speed stability, especially through fast corners and under heavy braking.

The drop-dead gorgeous 2005–2006 Ford GT was a loving homage to the GT40, with swinging ’60s styling digitally remastered for the 21st century and a thundering V-8 delivering the requisite soundtrack. The 2017 Ford GT is the real deal: Just like the original GT40, it was actually designed to win at Le Mans. And that means accepting some compromises. The V-6 engine drones horribly at cruising speeds. Generously proportioned owners will find the cabin an uncomfortably tight fit. The execution of the carbon-fiber panels and parts is workmanlike rather than dazzlingly perfect as in a Bugatti or a Pagani. Although it has sat nav, even cruise control, and a remarkably compliant ride on the road, this is not a car for cruising the interstates from sea to shining sea.

And in truth none of that matters because the Ford GT delivers a spectacularly unique driving experience. It’s loud and unfiltered, agile and precise, fast in a straight line and quicksilver through the corners. It is not, like track-rat versions of Porsches and Ferraris and Vipers, a road car with racing hardware bolted on. It is a racing car you can drive on the road.

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