The 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is sure to position itself as the best production Ponycar ever. Featuring a 5.2L flat-crank V8, fully independent rear suspension with magneride dampers, and a traditional manual transmission this Mustang is an enthusiast’s dream.
The GT350 is not only poised to be one of the most powerful naturally aspirated production Mustangs ever, but one of best in terms of driving dynamics as well. The car is based on the latest “S550” chassis and features a fully independent rear suspension, optimized aerodynamics with body sculpting, and a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter flat-crank V8 engine than can rev up to 8200 rpm.
The V8 is an engineering marvel. The flat-crank design involves attaching the crank pins at 180 degree intervals rather than 90 which allows for a firing order that bounces back between two cylinder banks with almost no overlap in exhaust pulses. That basically means that the engine is going to be very powerful and have an incredibly distinctive sound. The engine is the most powerful naturally aspirated engine that Ford has ever produced. While official power-output has not been confirmed, Ford says the engine should be good for more than 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
The power from the engine is routed through a six-speed manual transmission through a standard Torsen limited-slip differential. A differential cooler is optional equipment and is fed air by the rear diffuser.
A continuously controlled magnetorheological damping system, aka MagneRide, alters the stiffness at each shock-absorber corner independently every 10 mili-seconds based on the suspension load. This allows for continuous changes to the stiffness/tuning of the suspension for better handling. This same suspension is found on other high-performance vehicles including the Camaro ZL1, Audi TT, Ferrari, and Chevrolet Corvette. The suspension can by cycled through 5 modes which also alter steering effort, sensitivity, and programming of the traction control systems. The Shelby GT350 also gets tweaked springs, bushing, a wider front track, and a lowered ride height.
Braking should also be impressive. Brakes are not carbon-ceramic, but they are 15.5 inches up front and 15.0 inches at the rear. The front brakes have two-piece iron rotors with aluminum hats and six-piston Brembo calipers. The rear calipers are four-piston.
Wheels are 19 inches and very wide. The front wheels are 10.5 inches wide while the rear are 11 inches wide and the wheels are fitted with Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber.
The exterior is completely original to the GT350 from the A-pillar forward. There is a lower, steeper aluminum hood, wider aluminum front fenders with air extracting vents. The front bumper and fascia get large air inlets that send air to the brakes and aid in cooling. A wicked Shelby front splitter is standard. The rear gets a decklid spoiler, aerodynamic under-tray, and sculpted rear diffuser.
The interior gets bespoke touches as well. A flat-buttom steering wheel gives an immediate clue as to the vehicle’s performance, while the Recaro sport seats allow the driver to be well-supported in tight turns. The instrument panel gets more matte pieces to reduce glare. There will also be an optional technology package which brings power seats, leather, auto climate control, and other features to the GT350.
The GT350 is poised to be the driver’s choice when it comes to high-performance Mustangs. Not as wild or powerful as the GT500, but the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 promises to be one of the most engaging Mustang models produced.