When Ford unveiled its new GT supercar at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the car drew waves of attention for its strikingly sharp body lines and wild engineering. It immediately stole all of the thunder from Acura, which had just unveiled the final production version of the new NSX.
But it also received a hefty amount of criticism from “purists,” who believe the new Ford GT, like its two famous predecessors, should be powered by a V8 engine. This new car has a downsized power plant: Instead of a large, wide V8, the car is propelled by a 3.5L, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 making more than 600 horsepower (the most powerful EcoBoost engine Ford has built so far). Despite the smaller engine, this GT will make at least 50 more horsepower than the previous generation, which used a supercharged 5.4L V8.
So why didn’t Ford stick turbocharges on its current 5.0L V8, for even more power? Packaging. "The V8? Wouldn't fit," Paul Seredynski, manager of Ford global powertrain technology communications, told International Business Times in an interview. "The GT has evolved," he said, referring to the previous two generations of the nameplate. "The original GT40 that won LeMans in 1966 had a 427 (7.0 liter) big block V8," Seredynski said, which was radically different from the second-generation car launched in the 2000s. In 2005, the GT had a 5.4L supercharged V8. The new car follows the downsizing trend -- automakers are proving that you don't need eight cylinders to make a lot of power these days.
Even if Ford could have somehow fit a V8 into the new packaging, it just isn’t the way of the future for many cars, even supercars like this one. Manufacturers have been downsizing their engine lineups for the past few years, trading large, naturally aspirated powerplants for smaller, more efficient turbocharged ones. It’s a trend that, like it or not, is going to continue thanks to strict emissions and fuel economy standards.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, even if some purists say the new GT will be inferior to the old ones because of the changes. There’s no way for anyone to know how the car performs yet -- not until Ford lets journalists drive it.