What is it?
2010 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
What's special about it?
Like the new Ford Mustang GT and V6 models introduced at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2010 Shelby GT500 to be introduced at the Detroit auto show in January is far from an all-new car.
Like its more pedestrian brethren, the GT500 gets a revised look, a vastly improved interior and a bump in horsepower for the 2010 model year. The car goes on sale in early spring 2009.
Unlike the meager 15-hp injection given to the GT, the GT500 gets 40 horses more for a grand total of 540. And no, Ford will not change this car's name to GT540. The 2010 model uses the same, basic supercharged 5.4-liter V8, but it's tuned more like the limited-edition GT500 KR. A new cold-air intake draws air from the upper front grille through its own snorkel, and this piece helps generate the increased power. It's so important that the Cobra emblem on the grille has been moved to the passenger side so as not to block the intake. Along with the 540 hp at 6,200 rpm, the reworked motor now makes 510 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm (a 30 lb-ft increase).
The GT500's increased accelerative thrust will be aided by a new 3.55:1 rear end, in place of last year's 3.31. Even so, Ford says that the 2010 model will get a 10 percent improvement in highway fuel economy thanks to taller 5th and 6th gear ratios in its six-speed manual transmission. Figure it should return about 22 mpg highway.
In truth, the last thing the GT500 really needs is more power; what it needs is a retuned suspension. The 2009 GT500 is just too soft and floppy for track duty, with a noted tendency toward understeer. Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer, has been aware of this fact. So Hameedi says the 2010 GT500 incorporates lessons learned from the KR development for suspension tuning as well. For example, the 2010 GT500's front springs are 13 percent stiffer and the rears are 7 percent stiffer. The new model also carries the next generation of Goodyear's Eagle F1 Supercar tires, upsized to 19-inchers for the coupe. The convertible version (which arrives at the same time as the coupe and should account for about 30 percent of sales) sticks with 18-inch wheels and tires. Hameedi claims the GT500 should be significantly quicker through the slalom and less prone to understeer. The new car will also come standard with the three-mode traction and stability control system (on, off and sport), just like the new Mustang GT.
Ford also tells us that the new GT500 will have better aerodynamic balance. A pan under the engine reduces front-end lift and a new rear spoiler reduces lift in the back. The GT500 won't be any lighter than the outgoing model due in part to the addition of more acoustic insulation. However, the 2010 GT500 will get a heavy dose of stripes. As Chief Designer Doug Gaffka says, "The car is all about performance, but a lot about design." In all, Ford will offer five different stripe packages, including striped leather seats and a striped cue-ball shift knob. And when we say cue ball we mean it — the shift knob is supplied by a maker of billiard balls.
What's Edmunds' take?
In the name of science, we are willing to test the ability of the updated chassis to handle the increased power.
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