MUSTANG TO CAPRI IN ONE MOVE
A drive in the mighty Shelby GT500 and how it'll influence 'the new Capri' for Europe
Well Mr Jones, if the four-wheel drive is unlikely to happen, then we have good news on the Capri. It is returning, only we'll know it as the 'Mustang'.
Hang on, we hear you cry, but the Mustang already exists as a ripsnorting, wheel-spinning hunk of old-school Americana. This is very true, and to highlight that fact we've had a drive in the GT500 Shelby with its eye-popping 662hp (more below).
But it's the NEXT Mustang that'll get closer to modern Capri spec and that car is coming to Europe and the UK.
This was officially announced in September and we've since had confirmation from Ford that the coupe and convertible will be right-hand-drive.
So here's why it'll be as much Euro-focused Capri as Stars-n-Bars Mustang when it arrives late in 2014. Firstly it'll have a four-cylinder Ecoboost engine with turbocharger to supplement the 3.7 V6 and 5.0-litre V8 versions. That two-litre motor may or may not be bored out to 2.3, but what is certain is that it'll make at least 250hp but record an official emissions figure that won't require the full toe-touch come tax-time.
Americans are naturally scared that us sophisticates across the pond are going to ruin their blue-collar mirthmobile.
“It's a great idea to market the Mustang worldwide, but it would be a mistake to pander to those cultures for its styling or technology," Steve Turner, editor of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords told the Fox News website recently.
The new Mustang will become more expensive for Americans than the current car, especially with independent rear suspension. But let's not forget they pay the equivalent of just £14,256 including local taxes (California) for the base 'stang. That's for a 3.7-litre V6 making 305hp and you still get stuff like 17-inch alloys, six-speed manual and remote locking. You can lease one for £151 a month, with £2,000 down.
Even this Shelby GT500 we're about to get into costs just £33,900 in the States. For that you get 662hp and 631lb ft of torque from the 5.8-litre supercharged V8 - just staggering figures for the price. Ford reckons it'll clear 200mph, with magazines in the States recording 3.5-second 0-60mph drag times.
This tribute to the great US racer, tuner and Friend of Ford, Carroll Shelby, who sadly died this year, has been comprehensively reworked to cope with all that power. The list is endless, but we like this fact: the steel two-piece driveshaft is replaced by a single-piece carbon fibre version.
"The car makes so much power and torque that we needed to go through the entire driveline system to ensure it moves to the wheels in a manageable way," said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer for SVT, the Ford performance arm that created the car.
We're about to head out onto Brands Hatch Indy circuit in the coupe version and our thoughts are now, help. The gearshift with its ridiculous (sorry, 'iconic') cue-ball top is massively long-throw and the clutch bite point very high. It's also very long-geared and we're told third is fine for all but the straight. This isn't a car designed for short, technical circuits. Runways, perhaps.
With this in mind, the V8 bellow takes on the pitch of a caged bull elephant demanding a return to the plains of Africa - a fabulous sound, but you feel a bit sorry for the creature that makes it.
Foot down onto the track and the power is something else. It doesn't feel quite like 662hp, but the car is most definitely quick. It also feels well roped down in the corners and the steering responds reasonably quickly to small inputs.
You'd think with all that power that the GT500 would rotate at the merest brush of the throttle if not completely in a straight line, but it requires a bigger hoof than that and grip is good enough to allow early power out of the bends. It's not nimble enough to be properly quick round here, but by god is it fun.
We left thinking the GT500 has definitely got a place in a 10-car dream garage (either that or a Corvette ZR1). Like the editor of 5.0 Mustangs and Super Fords, we do hope the blunt-instrument appeal of a car like this doesn't disappear among the Ecoboost, IRS sophistications of the new one.
A blend of the two and a start price of around £22,000 should get Capri fans in the UK promising themselves a Blue Oval badged coupe all over again.
FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT500 COUPE
Engine: 5.8-litre, V8 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 662@6500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 631@ 2200-5800rpm
Top speed: 200mph+
MPG: 18-29mpg (UK gallons)
Price: £52,995 (Newport Imports)