Technically inferior to Cayman and M3 - but packed full of soul

Our Verdict

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Pricier but thoroughly updated Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 packs the power to justify the Shelby tag, but also offers accessibility and a dynamic edge

What is it?

A revised 2010 version of the range-topping retro Mustang GT500.

Externally the GT500 gets a few minor tweaks to the classic Mustang shape, most notably an even larger bonnet bulge, larger wheels and twin racing stripes.

The theme continues inside (there are stripes on the seats and the gearlever), and elsewhere the cabin has been improved with better materials and a streamlined design.

Mechanically the GT500 uses the same 5.4-litre supercharged V8 as before, but with power increased to 540bhp and torque to 510lb ft. That matches the specification of the limited-edition GT500KR (King of the Road).

While Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) has also honed the suspension settings, this hasn’t extended to replacing the Mustang’s archaic live axle rear suspension.

What’s it like?

Rudimentary but entertaining. On the occasions when it’s possible to transmit the power to the rear wheels the GT500 is massively fast – perhaps not 540bhp fast, but certainly quick enough.

It also sounds sensational. Whereas a VXR8 Bathurst is all supercharger whine, the GT500 is more about the V8 warble. And when you back off the throttle it pops gently on the overrun. The trouble is, even with the assistance of a two-stage ESP system, the GT500 will break traction incredibly easily - although, to an extent, that adds to the sense of occasion.

For such a muscle car, the transmission is surprisingly easy to live with. The clutch action is light and the gearshift precise and mechanical without being cumbersome. Broadly speaking, this is the same unit used in the Corvette, except that the action is significantly more satisfying in this application. One contributing factor is the wonderfully tactile classic white billiard ball gearknob.

In other respects the cabin is a small but significant step forward. By the standards of most European cars, fit and finish is still poor, but with a decent touch-screen sat-nav and stereo and some consistency in the design, the Mustang is now just about acceptable. Ford has also added ‘mood lighting’ - which would be fine, except that the ‘mood’ Ford plumped for is best described as ‘provincial nightclub’.

In handling terms the GT500 has always been entertaining but basic, and this latest version isn’t going to change that summary. It is improved - there is now more steering feel and better body control - but by the standards of modern sports cars the GT500 lacks sophistication. Likewise, the ride is slightly smoother, but that rear axle still struggles with our bumpy roads.

None of this stops the GT500 from being enjoyable to drive. If you’ve got enough space to play with, it is frankly hysterical, but you do need to be of a certain mindset.

Should I buy one?

That depends on what you are looking for. Technically the Porsche Cayman and BMW M3 are much more accomplished cars, and there are many others we’d recommend before the Mustang.

However, if it's soul you’re after, the GT500 is difficult to fault. In the US it sells for $46,325, and after import costs to the UK (Ford is not selling it officially) you’re looking at around the same figure in sterling. At that price, you'd better be sure it’s soul you want.

Jamie Corstorphine

Join the debate

Comments
34

7 December 2009

Read Autocar at the moment and its eco this, and eco that. And then this. And you realise its not the world thats gone mad, just Europe! And this is all about the same price as the eco mondeo tested today.

I dont even want one, but i know the worlds a better palce because these things exist.

7 December 2009

Chevy' Camaro looks much better IMO.

7 December 2009

I have to know... Is the Knight Rider light on the options list???

7 December 2009

Having just spent some time in the states on business, I can tell you the V8 is alive and well and living Georgia! With 'gas' still about £1.50 / Gallon and a new 425hp Camaro about £19k, is it any wonder...

7 December 2009

[quote Challenger440]

Having just spent some time in the states on business, I can tell you the V8 is alive and well and living Georgia! With 'gas' still about £1.50 / Gallon and a new 425hp Camaro about £19k, is it any wonder...

[/quote]

You're right Challenger440! It's a wonderful thing these cars still exist. Not everyone wants an economy car, even if petrol is expensive. Fortunately, it's still quite reasonable in the States. If I only could afford a ZR1...

Don D

7 December 2009

[quote shomann]It's a wonderful thing these cars still exist[/quote]

Too True!!

Wouldnt life be much more interesting if fuel was a reasonable price and people drove interesting cars like this instead of having to see lines of traffic full of these new nasty compact cars...

All the tax in this country turns everything boring and sensible... could do with a dose of american freedom in this country....... stop us all from going insane.

8 December 2009

It's suppsed to be technically inferior, its from Ford an Econo car company. A Working man's car from Middle America. Bars, fights, drag races in the snow on the Interstate to see who can force the next car in the ditch, etc......

Now if they made a Lincoln Variant with the same powertrain, but in a very sexy shape, with Lincoln's New decidedly Infinti-like attitude then you can have an M3 comparison.

8 December 2009

Included in the spec should be a Hawiian shirt gold medallion and hairy chest. A real uncle sam muscle car.

8 December 2009

Shock and or...?

8 December 2009

[quote HyundaiSmoke]

It's suppsed to be technically inferior, its from Ford an Econo car company. A Working man's car from Middle America. Bars, fights, drag races in the snow on the Interstate to see who can force the next car in the ditch, etc......

Now if they made a Lincoln Variant with the same powertrain, but in a very sexy shape, with Lincoln's New decidedly Infinti-like attitude then you can have an M3 comparison.

[/quote]

technically inferior or not, this car has more testosterone in one of its wing mirrors than you'll find in every hyundai ever made, or indeed every hyundai that ever will be made.

as for the m3 comparison, well, i'm as discerning as the next guy, but i'd have one of these like a shot over the beemer.

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