As one of Ford’s largest new vehicle introductions this year (arguably the second most important behind the new F-150), the 2015 Mustang supplies the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker with an entirely new platform for its iconic performance coupe. And if the new revival of the Mustang GT350 is any indication, Ford intends to take full advantage of it.
It has “more than” 500 horsepower, supplied from a naturally aspirated 5.2 liter V8. It has MagneRide suspension and big brakes (Brembo six-piston calipers, more specifically) on all four corners. For a segment that has become historically known for its prowess in straight lines, the Shelby GT350 is joining the Camaro Z28 in pushing the muscle car boundaries when it comes to the track.
“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 of Ford Global Performance Vehicles, in the company’s statement. The new car brings back the GT350 nameplate that first appeared in 1965 and has come and gone since, but it’s been on a long hiatus. Until now.
Those familiar with Mustangs and Ford’s slate of engines in general will notice that the engine is slightly larger than the ubiquitous 5.0 liter V8 that has adorned many a Mustang and Pickup. But what’s especially notable about the car is that it uses a flat plane crankshaft, as opposed to a cross plane crankshaft. The latter is found in most production V8s, while the former can be found in such cars as the Lotus Esprit V8, the Ferrari 458 (and numerous other Prancing Horse models), and the Porsche 918. So it comes from good stock.
The power — all 500 and change, whatever the final figure ends up to be — will be paired with a peak torque figure of “over” 400 pound-feet, and crucially routed through a six-speed manual transmission. This car is old school through and through, and the automotive world will likely be the better for it. “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. Count us as excited.
The drivetrain, however, was not the only point of focus for Ford’s engineers. Virtually all pieces of the car received a thorough going over. The rims, for example, have been stiffened to withstand the additional strains that Ford assumes (and likely rightly so) the drivers will put on the car. They’re 19 inches across, 10.5 inches deep in front and 11 inches in the back, and wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
The body is not a terribly far departure from the standard Mustang GT. The aerodynamic tweaks — of which there are many — are restrained and purpose-driven, and as a result the GT350’s design is taught and crisp and doesn’t give the impression that the car is packing more than it’s capable of delivering. “Everything we changed on GT350 is purely functional-driven design, with the goal of improving the overall performance of the car,” said Ford’s design director Chris Svensson. “We optimized the aero shape of the car, and then fine-tuned what was left to increase downforce and cooling airflow.” The company added that the bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to the GT350.
The wheel arches are wider, giving the ‘Stang a more menacing and planted stance. The grille has been designed and implemented with individual openings to pull in air through the radiator, high-pressure engine air intake, cooling ducts for the front brakes and, optional with the Track Pack, an engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler, the company said.
Inside, drivers are treated to Recaro seats, and the gauges have been overhauled to better reflect the car’s performance capabilities. The steering wheel has even taken on a more ergonomic flat-bottom shape that allows better control and gripe when whipping the car around a track.
“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.”