Quick Spin: 2013 Shelby GT500
The latest stallion in the Mustang corral is one kick-ass ride, elevating the entire breed to new heights of pure driving fun.
(Editor's note: After Sam Smith's teaser piece from Friday and ahead of the full review -- coming soon! -- on MSN Autos, Tom Wilson gives Exhaust Notes a Quick Spin in Ford's much-hyped 662-horsepower 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang. Enjoy.)
Few new cars have ever been as eagerly awaited as the 662-horsepower 2013 Shelby GT500. It certainly didn’t disappoint us this weekend during the manufacturer’s ride-and-drive at Road Atlanta -- in fact, we think this new mother of all Mustangs has transformed the breed from mere muscle car all the way to pocket exotic.
Built by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team, the 2013 GT500 has a blistering top speed of 200 mph. More than that, though, the vehicle boasts all the braking and road-holding necessary to handle that power with grace and aplomb.
That wasn’t an easy task, especially when you consider the basic Mustang unibody and general interior layout are nearly all-new. Technical highlights include a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 engine -- the world’s most powerful, according to Ford -- a carbon-fiber driveshaft, 15-inch front brakes and electronic launch control. (See Sam Smith’s post from Friday for some more technical details.)
Bottom line: We not only found the GT500 a rollicking good time on the track -- no surprise here -- but a first-class grand tourer as well. Here are some of our initial reactions.
- Power trip: What can we say about 662 horses underfoot? It drives like a pussycat around town but redefines what automotive urge is all about when let loose. It runs a high 11-second quarter-mile at 125 mph on the drag strip.
- Total control: Things such as the electronically adjusted shocks and steering are easily controlled by direct push buttons rather than with a hellish menu-driven touch-screen.
- Track ready: Competently engineered, the GT500 can literally be driven from showroom to road-racing track, where it can shame trailered race cars. It’s well balanced, with minimal understeer and tremendous power.
- Fast but safe: Few drivers can approach all of the GT500’s performance, but its superb stability-control system has three levels to maintain a safety net without getting in the way.
- Bang-for-bucks king: You can’t beat the GT500 for its combination of performance and approachable pricing. Base examples need few options and start in the mid $50,000 range; well-equipped means mid-$60,000. And remember, that buys you 662 horses and 200 mph.
- Jack-of-all-trades supercar: Most of the GT500 is incredible; a little of it is base Mustang. For this crowd, a telescoping steering wheel and push-button starting would seem mandatory.
- Gearing issues: To improve drivability and reach their 200 mph goal, Ford SVT changed to taller 3.31 rear axle gears along with a taller first gear. Acceleration is still awesome, in a torquey way, but some buyers will want to opt for snappier 3.55 gears. Ford should have made this an option.
R.I.P Carroll Shelby...I really hope they don't stop making this car
If you want to see quantitative evidence of Solid Axle vs Live Axle view these two videos taken a VIR. This is called the Grand Course and is one of the most demanding courses in terms of cornering of any road course in the country.
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Things to look for:
Compare the entry, maximum, and exit speed for the uphill s's.
Compare the entry, maxiumum, and exit speed for the hogpin section.
Both of these sections have little to do with power and everything to do with chassis dynamics.
Both drivers are engineers and test drivers for their respective companies. Both are light years ahead of you and I in their skill level.
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