RE: Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R: Driven

RE: Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R: Driven

Wednesday 19th July 2017

Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R: Driven

A UK blast in the mega Mustang, at Thruxton of all places...



If you're going to test a racetrack-prepared performance car anywhere, it really should be on a racetrack. I just wish the circuit Ford's press department had chosen for the occasion wasn't the scariest, fastest circuit in the UK. Where it's been raining all morning.

Some cars can put you on edge even before you've been given the key. The Shelby Mustang GT350R is certainly one of them. It looks so tough, with its road-scraping front splitter and its gaping grille open wide like a great white's daggered mouth. It's also rare - the only one in the country - and everything about it, from its suspension settings to its semi-slick tyres, has been developed to work on a sun drenched Californian circuit, not a drizzly old English airfield.


Ford Focus(ed)
The GT350R is as hardcore and as focused as the Mustang has ever been, more so even than the more road-biased GT350 model. Ford Performance set out to build a Cayman GT4-chaser out of a big old muscle car - which is a bit like trying to make a 110-metre hurdler out of my grandmother - and it's gone to town on the Mustang. Naturally, the springs and dampers are completely reworked while the tyres, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, are just about as extreme as road-legal tyres get. The rears are so wide at 315mm that they almost meet in the middle, while the fronts, 305mm in width, appear as though they'd require the full strength of Hercules to apply any steering angle to.

Those four fat tyres wrap around carbon fibre wheels. They save almost 6kg of unsprung weight at each corner, which is the sort of weight reduction chassis engineers fantasise about while their spouses are away. Sub-£1m cars just don't use carbon fibre wheels. The rear seats have also been junked to save weight and, if you're really serious about setting PBs and purple sectors, you can do away with the air conditioning and sat-nav. Even so, the GT350R still weighs 1,660kg.

Ford Performance has had a good hard look at the car's aero, too, adding a more prominent front splitter and a bigger rear wing to increase downforce. The vent in the bonnet - it's not a hood - the flat underbody panels, the rear diffuser and the vents in the wheel arches are all there to massage and direct the air over and around the car in the most efficient way possible.


Flat-plane brilliant
What really demonstrates Ford's ambition for this GT350R, though, is the engine. For as long as there have been stars in the night sky American muscle cars have used big, weighty, relatively lazy cross-plane crank V8s that produce all the torque in the world, while nimble little European sports cars have used fizzy flat-plane crank V8s. They're more compact and they rev higher, which means they're ideal for cars that are going to be driven at the limit and flung through corners.

The GT350R ditches its cross-plane V8 for the flat-plane kind, which really blurs the line between muscle car and sports car. It's a 5.2-litre unit that develops 533hp - at 7,500rpm, in a Mustang! - and 429lb ft. A six-speed manual and Torsen LSD send drive to the rear wheels. Ford quotes a 3.9-second 0-60mph time, which is staggeringly fast for a weighty old thing with a manual 'box.

The GT350R doesn't feel much like any other Mustang inside the cabin. The GT's big, plush, squishy leather chairs have been replaced by heavily-bolstered sports seats, which are also set a little lower. The seating position is just about spot on, although from there the car stills feels rather large. On the plus side, it's finally stopped raining.


Granny shifting
What you have to remind yourself when driving the GT350R on track is that, underneath, it's still a Mustang, a car that lives for being driven on track as much as my grandmother lives for the UK's illegal rave scene. (Why am I thinking about my grandmother so much? Must call her). Because whereas the Mustang GT is all at sea on circuit, the GT350R feels right at home. There's a section of track right at the start of the Thruxton lap that includes a fast left hander over an unsighted crest into a heavy braking zone. It would trip up anything that didn't have proper control over its mass, but the GT350R feels completely locked down.

The Cup 2 tyres find lots of grip on the still damp surface, while the steering is sharp and direct. Most tellingly, the car feels 300kg lighter and 10 per cent smaller than it really is, which means you can start flinging it around and flicking it between direction changes like a purpose-built sports car. Ford Performance has engineered most of the muscle car out of the GT350R, and I mean that as a huge compliment.

Church corner - the fastest bend in the UK - is such an unsettling piece of track that at times I wish they'd put a chicane in it. But the Mustang is really composed and settled in there, even well into triple figure speeds. I'm always a bit cynical about the claims manufacturers make about downforce figures on road cars, but in this case, I have to believe the aero devices are doing something.


What of the engine? It's a real peach. It still develops a wedge of torque so it doesn't suddenly feel all peaky, but it's so much more responsive than the GT's V8 and it revs all the way to 8,000rpm. It's so much better suited to track driving than a lazy, grunty, cross-plane V8 would be.

Against all the odds, the GT350R is a load of fun to drive on circuit. But you know what? If you bolted on a set of sticky tyres and rock solid suspension, then dropped in a 500bhp engine, you could make just about anything this side of an intercity train good to drive on circuit. The difficult thing is making a car that's competent on a smooth, flat track, and also on a bumpy, uneven road.

I haven't tried the GT350R away from Thruxton so I'm not casting any aspersions about how it drives on the road. But it works well out on the public highway will be the difference between the GT350R being a likeable sideshow, and a truly great performance car.


FORD SHELBY MUSTANG GT350R
Engine
: 5,163cc, V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 533@7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 429@4,750rpm
0-60mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: 177mph
Weight: 1,660kg
MPG: 16 (yee-haw, etc.)
CO2: You're joking?
Price: $65,000

 

 

Author
Discussion

SpunkyM

Original Poster:

226 posts

175 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
Would love to hear the noise this makes. If only you could get them over here for £50k.

Wills2

14,646 posts

106 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
I heard a few GT350s in LA this year, loud and glorious are terms I'd use.

$65,000 for this GT350R what a bargain, in fact is that price correct?


Glasgowrob

1,821 posts

52 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
seems rather telling that Ford Uk have one on fleet and letting journos play with it,


uk launch this year?

sumpoil

347 posts

95 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
Glasgowrob said:
seems rather telling that Ford Uk have one on fleet and letting journos play with it,


uk launch this year?
I certainly hope so! .... I had a GT but when I saw the first versions of the R being tested in the States then there was only one Mustang for me ..... the one turned up to 11! thumbup Let's just hope Ford market them at a reasonable price - in the States they change hands for ridiculous money.

As a footnote, I think there are at least 2 350R's in the UK at the moment, both privately imported.

Gecko1978

1,929 posts

88 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
If this was 65k it would be a bargin but my guess to make a rhd version is going to push the price up more an then how many will they sell so i don't see it coming to the uk rather some of the styling an aero package might become optional on the GT model
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Stig

11,416 posts

215 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
Glasgowrob said:
seems rather telling that Ford Uk have one on fleet and letting journos play with it,


uk launch this year?
Nope - halo effect to drive sales of the GT which are slowing. MY18 on its way though...

griffdude

1,437 posts

179 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
Saw this at the NY motorshow in 2016. Hope this engine pops up in a version of the new TVR.

RacerMike

1,853 posts

142 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
I’d be sorely tempted to chop in my RS for one of these. Sadly, I doubt it’ll come over here...

David87

4,865 posts

143 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
I wish they'd bring the GT350 and GT350R to the UK. I'd be very interested in one, but won't entertain an unofficial import.

Rick1.8t

467 posts

110 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
I really like the Mustang but just cant fall in love with how it looks on the road - I think partly because I dont think the standard wheels are the best choice for the car, something just doesnt look 'right' somehow.

This fixes things aesthetically for me - I think its looks great and not too ott - If Ford bring them to the UK we better snap them up while we can - There cant be much more than 10-15 years left for cars like this until they are pretty much gone forever.

g7jhp

5,521 posts

169 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
1,660kg is lardy, even with carbon fibre wheels which would be ruined quickly.

A 996 turbo is lighter, quicker, cheaper and will take 4 people (small ones in the back)!

Duffman83

161 posts

95 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
griffdude said:
Saw this at the NY motorshow in 2016. Hope this engine pops up in a version of the new TVR.
Sadly this will never happen, the voodoo V8 is not being made for sale by Ford as a crate motor.

ZX10R NIN

10,962 posts

56 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
frown they won't be coming to the UK I'm currently saving the funds to import one, my uncle has a 2016 one which is just amazing the engine note is off the chain I think it's the only car where I wouldn't even think of playing with the exhaust, take it through a tunnel & the grin is ridiculous they are selling for well over list in the states as Ford are limiting supply.

I haven't even got to the best part which is the Voodoo (official name) V8 which is special:

Have a listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtdtGgf1BF0

https://youtu.be/MMNifBdm_o4

Watch how it does against it's peers:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4f4q52J9qY

Rick1.8t

467 posts

110 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
g7jhp said:
1,660kg is lardy, even with carbon fibre wheels which would be ruined quickly.

A 996 turbo is lighter, quicker, cheaper and will take 4 people (small ones in the back)!
Im not sure what a 15 year old porsche has to do with anything and is a completely silly comparison to a brand new car - no?

Gibbo205

2,105 posts

138 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
I'd buy one in a shot if they come to the UK and cost £65,000 or less because it simply has no competition!

BMW: Crap sounding turbo motors with suspension so stiff they lack traction, though finally the new M4 CS seems to solve the suspension issue, still sounds poo.
Merc: Where did the 6.3l go! frown
Audi: Dull and more dull, would have to be a used R8 V10 which are superb.

Ford really should bring this car, it has zero competition and they'd sell them all if they bring them. But rumours are its too loud to pass many EU/UK regulations and they simply can still sell everything they product to the American market.

Which is such a shame!

But in saying this, I cannot complain too much, I've got my Mustang GT to a point where it probably offers me 99% of what a regular GT 350 (none-R) would do, as its making 516HP and has same 8000rpm redline and much improved responsivness. KW Clubsports and a load of other suspension tweaks and unsprung mass I saved 8kg per corner by changing the wheels and brakes out, which is more than Ford saved with carbon wheels and the car weighs in at 1640kg.

Still after all this and how lovely mine drives on the road and track, I'd be driving down to Ford right now to place my order for a GT 350 or GT 350 R if they made them available in RHD. I'd probably take the regular 350 as I actually prefer the smaller splitter and smaller wing, plus I'd want the technology and infotainment systems as my Mustang is a daily.

Here is a picture of how mine sits now, they are great cars, just wish Ford would give the UK and other markets more options and more models like the USA gets!















Not done the strip thing or huge spoilers on mine, its aggressive but low key, still gets people taking photos and asking questions nearly on a daily basis though which considering there is thousands now in the UK is still pretty cool. smile

Gibbo205

2,105 posts

138 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
g7jhp said:
1,660kg is lardy, even with carbon fibre wheels which would be ruined quickly.

A 996 turbo is lighter, quicker, cheaper and will take 4 people (small ones in the back)!
LOL. My E46 M3 is 1250kg, by comparison a 996 Turbo is lardy. But why compare a car from 15 years ago?

Cars have gotten bigger and heavier, even a regular 911 is now around 1500kg, a turbo is over 1600kg. A BMW M4 is around 1650kg, a GTR is around 1700kg. Cars have got heavier, the Mustang is no heavier than any other modern GT car in its class.

ZX10R NIN

10,962 posts

56 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
g7jhp said:
1,660kg is lardy, even with carbon fibre wheels which would be ruined quickly.

A 996 turbo is lighter, quicker, cheaper and will take 4 people (small ones in the back)!
Thing is the 996 TT is slower than the GT350R around Laguna Seca smile

RacerMike

1,853 posts

142 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
g7jhp said:
1,660kg is lardy, even with carbon fibre wheels which would be ruined quickly.

A 996 turbo is lighter, quicker, cheaper and will take 4 people (small ones in the back)!
I absolutely love comments like this on Pistonheads. Every stereotypical comment going without a hint of irony. A few points for

1 - A 996 Turbo is 15 years old
2 - A 996 Turbo is very second hand
3 - A 996 Turbo is 4WD
4 - A tidy 996 Turbo is now about £70k
5 - A Mustang also takes 4 people
6 - A Mustang is a completely different type of car to a 996 Turbo. I'd be surprised if the same kind of person was choosing between one or the other

g7jhp

5,521 posts

169 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
Rick1.8t said:
g7jhp said:
1,660kg is lardy, even with carbon fibre wheels which would be ruined quickly.

A 996 turbo is lighter, quicker, cheaper and will take 4 people (small ones in the back)!
Im not sure what a 15 year old porsche has to do with anything and is a completely silly comparison to a brand new car - no?
People buying a performance car can choose the 'new' or 'used' market. I'm just pointing out that a 996 turbo can be had for substantially less and will offer more. You and others have the choice to agree or disagree (we all have an opinion)! smile

Quinny

15,787 posts

197 months

Wednesday 19th July 2017
quotequote all
Rick1.8t said:
I really like the Mustang but just cant fall in love with how it looks on the road - I think partly because I dont think the standard wheels are the best choice for the car, something just doesnt look 'right' somehow.

This fixes things aesthetically for me - I think its looks great and not too ott - If Ford bring them to the UK we better snap them up while we can - There cant be much more than 10-15 years left for cars like this until they are pretty much gone forever.
Standard wheels can soon be changed..smile