With each month and year that has passed since the horsepower wars began anew, one wonders how much will ever be too much. Is it possible to understand that the economy stinks, that fuel prices will remain perpetually high and that the environment is in serious trouble and STILL yearn for an impractical, testosterone pumping beast of a car? It the answer is yes, the 2010 Shelby GT500 would be what that car is called.
The stylistic retro-reinvention of the Mustang back to the late 60’s was and remains the best reimagining of an old model that has rolled out of Detroit. So to Ford’s credit they have only enhanced the look for 2010 without trying to change too much. (A mistake they made in the 70’s) The result is that the new Mustang is actually bigger and muscular while managing to remain trim. This is a bit of automotive trickery and illusion by the designers who added darker contrasting panels to the bumpers and sharpened each end of the new Mustang. In fact, while the new car retains all the critical DNA of the previous car, nearly every panel is revised. Same thing could be said for the interior. The upgraded Shelby parts, badging and paint only enhance America’s best-selling sports car. What Ford has left, let’s generously call it “Old School” lies under the GT500’s skin.
Drivetrain and Performance
Producing enough horsepower has never been much of a problem at Ford, and the SVT engineers have predictably worked their magic on the supercharged 5.4 liter V8 to produce 540 hp ad 510 lb. feet of torque. In case your wondering, that’s an increase of 40 horses over the previous GT500 and is equal to last year’s limited edition “King of the Road” GT500KR. In comparison, the Camaro SS produces 426 hp and the Dodge Challenger SRT8 a “mere” 425. The result is a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds. King of the Road indeed. Not so great is the fuel economy of 14 mpg and 22 mpg on the highway. Though would you expect a car with over 500 hp to be much better? We won’t call it bad news, but Ford continues to use a much-maligned solid rear axle which under certain cornering conditions has a tendency to throw the car sideways. This is a cost-saving move pure and simple. To compensate Ford attempts to eliminate understeer with an increase in front and rear spring rates and a smaller diameter front stability bar. The results are actually pretty impressive. Handling of the GT500 and its 19-inch forged alloy wheels and Goodyear F1 Supercar tires is quick and responsive. Unlike muscle cars of the past and present that feel bloated and only “super” in a straight line, the new GT500 is approaching, dare I say, European refinement in handling. They still ultimately need to get rid of that archaic rear axle however, no matter how much they contend that customers DEMAND a solid axle for drag racing.
New for 2010 is the GT500’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability control with three modes: On, Sport and Off. As an added bonus for those looking to lay rubber down to the nearest Krispy Kreme is “Launch control.” Also new is a new lower-effort clutch that is paired with a short-shifting six-speed manual Tremec transmission. This complete package produces an appropriately robust sound from the four inch exhaust tips that Ford engineers have supposedly spent close to two years perfecting.
On the outside, the revised exterior sports the prerequisite rear deck spoiler, aggressive front fascia and traditional double racing stripes. Optional $600 Xenon headlights are also available. The redesign of the body work was not merely a freshening up of the model aesthetically, of primary concern was air flow by way of a lower grille to help cool the intercooler. Engineers were so concerned with aerodynamics that they moved the cobra badge to the other side of the car and blocked off specific holes in the grille to achieve the desired cooling attributes. Beyond these performance upgrades, the result is that the already attractive 2010 Mustang looks downright menacing as the GT500.
While the previous generation of Mustang had a serviceable interior, it was more intent than substance. Not so this time around. While it still harkens back to the classic 60’s look, the materials and construction (especially in the Shelby) are far better. The seats and steering wheel are shod in Alcantara trimmed leather with contrasting color matching the exterior stripes. The Shelby also comes standard with Microsoft’s SYNC interface system, Sirius radio, Shaker 500 Audio and manual climate control. The DVD-based navigation with media hard drive is $2,300 extra. As if the GT500 needed more character, the gear shifter is topped by a white billiard ball-style knob.
Like gas mileage, the $46,325 price of the GT500 is an almost irrelevant stat for those with the disposable income in which to purchase one. Yes it is quite a bit more than the Camaro SS ($34,225) and Challenger SRT8 ($40,220), but it also dominates those two cars. All hail the King.