There’s a new supercar killer in town. It’s ready to kick a** and take names. This is the brand new 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. It is poised to be the best Mustang ever.
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(Disclaimer: We’re a secondary source. Last week (Mid-October 2019), Ford Performance invited a crew of automotive journalists, Youtubers, and Influencers to enjoy the new GT500 on the road, track, and drag strip. We say enjoy, not test, because they had way too much fun…and we might be bitter that we didn’t figure out how to get an invite.)
On The Road
While first testing the GT500 on the roads around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, every single review points out that the seven-speed DCT is incredible. It shifts instantaneously both in manual and automatic mode; when you’ve opted to pull the paddles yourself, the hardwired system begins the shift as soon as your fingertips begin to apply force. By the time you’ve fully pulled the paddle, the shift has been nearly completed (80 milliseconds according to R&T). This, combined with Ford’s MagneRide (magnetorheological dampers – now standard sports & super car stuff), make the Shelby a beautiful road trip machine – despite less than amazing mpg numbers (does anyone reading this care about that though?).
On The Track
However, put it on the track and drag strip and the GT500 fully spreads its feathers and peacocks to anyone willing to watch. On the drag strip, Line Lock lets you warm up the tires with a systematic two feet on the pedals, left foot release. Yes, manual-lovers, you will not appreciate this, but the Drag Strip mode unleashes round after round of radical quarter-mile times (supposedly 10.7 – most journalists were about .5 seconds off of that). Perfect, seamless shifts give full access to the massive amount of power (the redline is at 7500 RPM, peak HP at 7400). The 760 horses are barely contained, threatening to spin the tires and scare the first time Shelby owner back into sport mode the entire 11 seconds.
On the track, the gigantic brakes puff their chest as if to tell the engine that there’s nothing they can’t handle – which indeed, according to Car and Driver, is the case. The approach to every corner then is a waiting game. Trusting that the gigantic 420mm front/370mm rear, four caliper brakes will do their thing when you brake later than you ever would have previously in a Mustang (for reference 420mm is about the size of the pizza you consume on that Friday night while binging Netflix – did that help?). On the other end of the corner, no matter where you are in the revs, the cross-plane V8 and giant, 2.65 L Eaton supercharger give you all of the power. We anticipate it will catch a number of our guests out and will require a bit of extra focus for our instructors.
In addition to keeping the ride smooth on the street, the suspension set up tag teams with the tires (Michelin Pilot Sport 4S or the track-focused Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2) to make this the best handling pony to come from Ford ever. So that you don’t think we are all in on this car with blinders on (pun intended), the weight of the front end is said to be still noticeable. Hammering hard on the brakes expectedly shifts the huge mass (4200 lb) onto its hood. As a result, we imagine at the end of the day you will not forget that you are driving an all-American muscle car, and if you do, the heavy V8 soundtrack will remind you.
Inside (oddly only certain guests seemed to be allowed to film inside the car at this press event), the carbon fiber package adds some class to the driving experience, though it is said to undoubtedly feel like a Ford. We are anxious to sit in the Recaro race seats and give the entire interior a solid test for ourselves. The 12-inch digital gauge cluster adopts the same habit as a few other recent supercars with Track Mode activating a completely different view that focuses on aiding your lap times. For those who opt-in to paddle shifting for themselves, this is a welcome and addicting addition. What else? Oh, if you have kids, very tiny kids, don’t get the Carbon Fiber Track Pack. It removes the back seats. The More You Know.
We cannot wait to get this car and experience it for ourselves. Put everything together and this car threatens to be a crowd favorite on the track, making everyone who drives it feel like a hero. As soon as we get it, we are stoked to put hundreds and hundreds of others in the driver’s seat and make them some of the first to drive this car on the track. (Shameless plug for our 2020 presale, going on until Sunday, click here)
All in all, the GT500 appears to successfully both stay true to the heritage of the Shelby Mustangs that have gone before it, while evolving to take on some of the most acclaimed trackable GT cars that exist today.