The supercharged 5.8-liter engine in Ford’s newly-updated Shelby GT500 has officially been certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers as the world’s most powerful series production V-8.
The big powerplant, used in Ford’s top-end Mustang, will make 662 horsepower and 631 pound-feet of torque. That works out to just over 114 horsepower per liter – and it’s enough to propel the pony car to a top speed of 200 miles per hour, putting it into the rarified atmosphere normally reserved for such European exotics as the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Aventador.
But what’s equally impressive, the maker boasts, is the fact that the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 will get 24 mile per gallon on the highway, a 1 mpg boost over the 2012 model, which made “just” 550 horsepower. The city mileage is up 1 mpg, as well, at 15, with a combined rating of 18 mpg. That’s enough for Ford to avoid the unwanted gas guzzler premium that often scares potential buyers away.
Ford insists that the new Shelby GT500 will be a far cry from the classic American muscle car – which was great at off-the-line acceleration but not much else.
“Our goal is to create outstanding all-around performance cars, not just stoplight-to-stoplight sprinters,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief engineer. “We’ve backed up this amazing powerplant with a more refined chassis tuning that helps keep the rubber on the pavement without punishing the driver’s spine and six-pot Brembo brakes that dissipate speed with ease stop after stop.”
Among the driver-adjustable features on the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 are Bilstein variable damping shock absorbers, track-tunes AdvanceTrac stability control and electric power-assisted steering. The new Mustang also features launch control, a system designed to maximize launch acceleration by minimizing initial wheel spin.
But the star of this show is the big V-8 which relies on a new TVS 2.3-liter supercharger, twin overhead camshafts and a total of 32 valves to enhance engine breathing so that both torque and power from the big engine starts coming on fast and hold steady right up to redline.
Ford is hoping that the high-power but relatively low-volume Shelby GT500 will place a halo around the overall Mustang nameplate. It has been losing ground for several years to the reborn Chevrolet Camaro. And in a press release, Ford takes a jab at its rival noting that the new 5.8-liter V-8 turns out a whopping 82 hp more than the engine in the top-line Camaro ZL1, also new for 2013. Turning the knife a little deeper, Ford adds that the Shelby GT500 also gets 5 mpg more on the highway.
But before Ford crows too loud one might point out that the legendary Carroll Shelby actually has found a way to punch even more power out of a Mustang. His own Las Vegas-based tuner shop, Shelby American, recently introduced the Shelby 1000. It completely rebuilds the stock Mustang V-8 and comes up with 950 hp in street configuration, 1100 in the track model. But Shelby American’s offering doesn’t count as a series production model.
In fact, there are a number of cars on the road that beat the GT500’s specific output, 114 horsepower per liter. The 4.4-liter package in the new BMW M5 “only” makes 560 hp, but that works out to 127 hp per liter.
Meanwhile, the new SRT Viper, introduced earlier in the month at the NY Auto Show, delivers markedly more than the Shelby GT500 from a horsepower-to-weight ratio, the Viper third in that column, behind the likes of the Bugatti Veyron and Ferrari F12.
But comparisons aside, it’s clear the Ford Shelby GT500 will carry a high fear factor among street racers.