With a 526-horsepower, 5.2-liter V8 that roars to 8,250 rpm, it's really hard to consider the 2016 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R an underdog in any fight. However, the Shelby held the lowest as-tested price and was only middle of the pack in terms of power in Road & Track's 2016 Performance Car of the Year challenge. The 'Stang's numbers clearly didn't tell the whole story about the potent coupe because Ford's muscle car grabbed the title in this year's test.

A model needs to be new or significantly updated to be eligible for the honor, and R&T found an impressive slate of eight candidates this year. The challengers included the Bentley Continental GT3-R, Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Dodge Viper ACR, Mercedes-AMG GT S, and Porsche Cayman GT4. The Ferrari 488 GTB was the most expensive of the bunch with an as-tested price of $347,942, which is five times more than the Shelby.

Once the group was together, R&T hustled them over curving roads and on the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park. There was a lot to love about the Shelby, even in this impressive crew. "With a flat-plane crank and Sport Cup 2 tires, the GT350R is a Mustang turned up to 11," editor-in-chief Larry Webster said in the announcement of the results.

The GT350R joins some great company. Past winners include the Porsche 911 GT3 last year and the Corvette in 2013. For some fantastic photography and the complete appraisal of these performance machines check out R&T's website for the full story.

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2016 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350

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ROAD & TRACK NAMES THE FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT350R THE 2016 PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR

New York, NY (November 9, 2015) – Road & Track today named the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R the 2016 Performance Car of the Year, beating out seven of the world's best new sports cars. The article appears in the December/January issue, on newsstands November 17, and on RoadandTrack.com.

"With a flat-plane crank and Sport Cup 2 tires, the GT350R is a Mustang turned up to 11," said Larry Webster, editor-in-chief of Road & Track. "Not only does the car have soul and harness so much firepower with such ease, but the real achievement here is that it's so approachable. It's a car you can't help but love."

The Mustang Shelby GT350R was the winner by a runaway vote. According to Road & Track, "The only way the team at Ford SVT could get 526 hp from 5.2 liters—the fabled 100 hp per liter and then some—was to reengineer the whole thing into a bit of an insane race motor." The magazine goes on to say that the "GT350R is the Mustang that all Mustangs have been waiting to become."

To be eligible for the Performance Car of the Year honor, a car must be new for this year or feature significant functional changes and live at the very top of the street-car performance pyramid with a competitive lap time. Additionally, cars must connect with the driver on both road and track and engage a visceral, emotional reaction in the man or woman holding the steering wheel.

Road & Track's testing process takes place over the course of one week during which the editors and writers evaluate the year's best cars on both road – from Berea, Kentucky, down to Cookeville, Tennessee – and track – the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Other cars in the running this year were the Bentley Continental GT3-R, Cadillac ATS-V, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Dodge Viper ACR, Ferrari 488 GTB, Mercedes-AMG GT S, and Porsche Cayman GT4.

The Mustang Shelby GT350R succeeds last year's Performance Car of the Year winner, the Porsche 911 GT3.

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