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2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 revealed [video]

Ford has revealed the all-new 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 which packs around 373kW and 542Nm and debuts a range of firsts for Ford, including magnetic dampers.

THE 2016 FORD MUSTANG Shelby GT350 is here. Ford has released its fifth teaser video, photos and a host of details about the iconic performance Mustang that will punch out more than 373kW (or 500hp) from its naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V8. Forget turbos and superchargers, this thing is old school muscle car.

Boasting 373kW and 542Nm of torque, Ford says the Shelby GT350’s 5.2L V8 is its most powerful ever naturally-aspirated engine and the first to be based around a flat-plane crankshaft – normally the reserve of race cars. That means, Ford says “Unlike a traditional V8, where the connecting rods are attached to the crankshaft at 90-degree intervals, this design evenly spaces all crank pins at 180-degree intervals.

“The 180-degree, flat-plane layout permits a cylinder firing order that alternates between cylinder banks, reducing the overlap of exhaust pressure pulses. When combined with cylinder-head and valvetrain advancements, this permits better cylinder breathing, further extending the performance envelope of the V8.”

The thumping V8 is mated to a six-speed manual with a standard-fit, Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential to optimise grip when cornering.

“The final product is essentially an all-new powerplant unique to GT350 – and one that takes true advantage of the new chassis dynamics of the Mustang platform,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Global Performance Vehicles.

“Make no mistake, this is an American interpretation of a flat-plane crankshaft V8, and the 5.2-liter produces a distinctive, throaty howl from its four exhaust tips,” said Hameedi.

Following in the footsteps of Carroll Shelby and his original 1965 Shelby GT350, Ford says it wanted to “transform a great every-day car into a dominant road racer”.

“When we started working on this car, we wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive – challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes – and the track on weekends,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant – nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power.”

The standard 2015 Ford Mustang is already 28% stiffer than its predecessor and Ford says the new GT350 is stiffer again to ensure handling remains sharp, particularly at the front-end. An injection-molded carbon fibre composite grille opening and a cost-optional lightweight tower-to-tower brace ensure the GT350’s snout is as stable as possible when cornering. The front track has been increased while spring rates and bushings have been recalibrated all around, with ride height reduced compared to the Mustang GT.

In a series of firsts for Ford, the Shelby GT350 sees the brand use MagneRide dampers for the first time (the same as the HSV GTS). Basically, the dampers are filled with a hydraulic fluid containing iron particles that, when an electric current is passed through the fluid can provide a virtually instant response from the suspension. Ford says the dampers, via wheel sensors, can be adjusted independently every 10 seconds.

Ensuring the Shelby GT350 is able to stop on the road and track, it gets two-piece cross-drilled steel discs mounted to aluminum hats. At the front are massive 394mm rotors clamped by Brembo six-piston fixed calipers with integrated caliper bridges, while 380mm rotors at the rear get four-piston calipers.

The Shelby GT350 gets 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels – 10.5in-wide (front) and 11.0in-wide (rear), wrapped in GT350-specific Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

“Everything we changed on GT350 is purely functional-driven design, with the goal of improving the overall performance of the car,” said Chris Svensson, Ford design director, The Americas. “We optimized the aero shape of the car, and then fine-tuned what was left to increase downforce and cooling airflow.” All bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to this high-performance model and up to two inches lower than Mustang GT.

In addition to looking like it would take a bite out of your rear bumper if it steamed up behind you, Ford says the styling changes are actually a case of function over form. The bonnet, for instance, is lower and more angled than the standard Mustang GT, creating a “smaller aerodynamic signature,” bonnet outlets ensure maximum heat extraction while reducing under-bonnet lift at high speed, this is further enhanced by a “belly pan” to ensure air flows smoothly under the car, while the aggressive-looking snout has been designed to reduce lift at the front. At the back, the diffuser helps provide additional downforce at high speed while also channeling air to the cost-optional differential cooler.

Inside, the Shelby GT350 gets Recaro sports seats, apparently the result of hundreds of hours of testing to ensure the seat was practical for the road and grippy enough for the track, there’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and chrome and brightwork finishes have been eliminated to prevent sun glare from distracting the driver. The Shelby GT350, in a first for Ford, also features an all-new integrated driver control system that allows drivers to toggle through five driving modes that tailor ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings.

“We took the best Ford Mustang yet and massaged every aspect of the car that affects the performance driving experience,” said Hameedi. “We tested endlessly on the most challenging roads and tracks in the world, and we believe serious drivers will love the Shelby GT350 Mustang.”

Ford will offer two cost-optional packs with the Shelby GT350, including a Track Pack that adds, amongst other things, an engine, transmission and differential cooler, while a Tech Pack adds power, leather-trimmed seats; Shaker Audio; 8-inch MyFord Touch LCD touch screen; and dual zone electronic temperature control, to name a few features.

Ford hasn’t released pricing or full specifications for the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, but with its press debut today, we’re expecting more information shortly. We’ve also reached out to Ford Australia about whether the Shelby GT350 will be available in right-hand drive and thus make its way Down Under.


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober