As the most extreme Mustang to date, the GT350R goes to lengths not even the GT350 model would have considered in the pursuit of race track performance. In fact, Ford says it didn’t even concern itself with trying to make the GT350R work on the public road.
The standard car’s plush leather chairs have been swapped out for heavily-bolstered Recaros, while the steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara. The sports seats are actually set an inch or two lower than the standard items, and with the steering column at full extension, the seating position is just about perfect.
If Ford wants the GT350R to be assessed as a track car, there are few better places to do just that than Thruxton. The UK’s fastest race track is a stern test of car and driver, mixing ballsy high-speed sequences with tight and technical sections.
The GT350R is more than up to it. Whereas the Mustang GT feels about as adept on circuit as a canal boat would, this stripped-out model feels right at home. That much more aggressive suspension set-up takes away all of the wallow and floatiness of the standard car, replacing it with agility, control and precision.
There are sections of Thruxton that demand so many different things from a car all at once; the start of the lap, for instance, combines a fast left-hand bend with a sharp crest and a heavy braking zone. Many cars would be completely flummoxed by that sequence, but the GT350R swallows it up without any trouble whatsoever. The steering is ultra-sharp and direct, the big Brembo brakes are excellent and the fat Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres generate enormous grip and traction.
In the high-speed sections, such as the intimidatingly fast Church corner, the car is incredibly stable, thanks in part to the aero package. There’s so little body roll or dive under braking that you quickly forget just how big and, let’s be honest, heavy the GT350R is.
Chasing an 8000rpm redline in a Mustang is a novel experience. The zingy V8 is right at the heart of the driving experience and it flings the car along at a mighty rate. It’s also so much more responsive than the GT’s cross-plane V8; it takes only a quick stab of the accelerator to bring the revs up during a downshift, whereas you really have to get into the GT’s throttle pedal to awaken the engine.