The competition in the sports car segment is hot, and Ford is one of the better automakers about finding ways to constantly improve its entry, the Mustang, on a regular basis.
Whether it’s a full makeover or simply an upgrade of its special edition vehicles like the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 — and the upcoming GT500 — the automaker continually ensures its legion of loyal fans are sated while drawing new fans to keep sales up over the years.
The new GT350 has a variety improvements to keep that tradition rolling along.
“Somewhere, Carroll is smiling,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs. “The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology.”
(And then there was one. Ford cutting all cars but the Mustang by 2022. Click Here for the story.)
From F-150 Raptor to the Ford GT supercar, Ford Performance is creating authentic performance cars, trucks and utilities that deliver heart-pounding excitement for customers around the world. Well, we can’t speak for Mr. Shelby, but we got a turn in the new model at the M1 Performance Center in Pontiac, Michigan, and can tell you we can’t wipe the smile off our face.
First and foremost, when you think of Carroll Shelby, you think of power and the new GT350 doesn’t disappoint. It has a 5.2-liter V8 delivering 526 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque at a blistering 8,250-rpm redline. It is the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever and the only one of its type in the segment, the company notes.
It’s mated to a track-proven and precise-shifting Tremec 6-speed manual transmission. Precise is an excellent word choice. The road-style race track at M1 provides plenty of opportunities to put that transmission through its paces and it was crisp and responsive — there was no searching for where the stick was supposed to go.
That performance is highlighted by the improvements made to the new chassis and aerodynamics of the GT350. Stereotypically, sports cars are a harsh ride; however, the new GT350 was comfortable during the few times we drove it slowly, but very taut as we pushed through turns, especially the hairpin at M1. The car was sticky and exhibited very little body roll during our laps in the car.
(Click Here to see more about Mustang being the best-selling sports car in the world for three years running.)
That sticky-yet-comfortable feel comes from upgrades to Mustang Shelby GT350’s standard MagneRide active suspension and tire enhancements with recalibrated springs and revised damping to take full advantage of the improvements.
Of course, the GT350 goes fast, but it also stops fast and we put that power to the test a couple of times when we were more interested in reading the speedo than the searching for the line through the next apex. That stopping power is provided by six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper Brembo brakes.
The vehicles we tested had all of the safety functions enabled, including the three-mode electronic stability control, which is tied to Ford’s new electric power-assist steering, so we never felt like we were in danger of losing control, but we pushed the car enough to say that feedback from the steering wsa pretty good all things considered.
More changes come on the inside of the GT350. The digital gauge cluster, which was updated last year, borrows a style from the classic Mustang; however, the horizontal readout makes easy to read, and finding important data requires no real effort.
Additionally on the inside, the new model gets a new standard machined aluminum instrument panel appliqué with an available exposed carbon fiber version, new door panel inserts in dark slate Miko suede with accent stitching, a wrapped center console, and standard Recaro race seats with firm side bolstering and open pass-throughs for safety harnesses offer the highest level of performance.
(To see Ford going California dreaming with special edition Mustang, Click Here.)
Also available is new high-performance, custom-tuned 12-speaker B&O Play audio system by Harman is now available for the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350, controlled via the now standard 8-inch Sync 3 touch screen that features SiriusXM and FordPass Connect. Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control is now standard, along with a universal garage door opener. We can’t speak to the veracity of the last two options because the engine is too loud to hear the music when wearing a helmet. It’s a race track you know.