LAS VEGAS — The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has a lot riding on it, literally and figuratively. In the literal sense, it’s got nearly 4,200 hulking pounds of mass on its tires, the majority of which is over its front wheels. This is hardly a recipe for either handling or rear-wheel traction, the latter of which plays into the figurative pressure on this car. In that regard, all attention is currently focused on the C8 Corvette, which just switched to a mid-engine layout to help it put power to the ground. The GT500’s supercharged V8 makes 265 hp more than the Stingray. The other issue is that the other Shelbys, the far less powerful GT350 and GT350R, are already among the most engaging, capable, and rewarding sports cars you can buy — and don’t ever need more power. Plus, they’re equipped only with a manual transmission. So the first question from behind the wheel of the GT500 is: Can this thing be anywhere nearly as good? If you’re on a race track, your mind will be blown. On the very technical Outfield Road Course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the GT500 shrugged off both its massive heft and outrageous power, lapping at race-car speeds while being as easy to control as a Miata. Easier, in fact — with help from its meaty, optional Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires, the GT500 puts its 760 horsepower to the ground more easily than the Mazda manages its 181. Its chassis is just as neutral, too — a slight whiff of understeer at the limit is easily nixed with any number of tricks from the racer’s toolbox. Infinitely adjustable with the throttle, steering or brake, the GT500 faithfully executes its driver’s commands without ever seeming spooky or twitchy. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for a front-engine, rear-drive car that makes nearly 150 more horsepower than a McLaren F1. The 5.2-liter is a supercharged version of the GT350’s 5.2-liter 526-hp V8, albeit fitted with a conventional, crossplane crankshaft. The engine note is 100% Mustang once again, filled to its screaming 7,500-rpm redline with violence and orchestra in equal measures. There’s barely a hint of supercharger whine inside the car, just brute engine noises. Standing alongside the track as a GT500 approaches you at full throttle, there’s a barely discernable overlay of high-pitched supercharger noise adding to the V8's drama — just enough to make you realize something very powerful is happening here. The newly developed Tremec seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is programmed to perfection. Left to choose the gears itself, it picks the correct cog at every single point around a racetrack. Shifts on the straight-ahead are executed quickly and with a quick nudge — but if ever the transmission needs to shift under power in a corner, it’s performed so smoothly that it won’t upset the balance of the car. Using the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles results in near-instantaneous shifts. The steering is well-weighted, perfectly accurate, and talkative enough to let you know what …
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Smart Buy Price
|MPG||20 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||310 @ 5500 rpm|
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