2013 Ford Mustangs engage in a little horseplay
"Ford has ‘optimized’ just about everything else on the Shelby, including, brakes, gearing and suspension."
CALABOGIE, Ont. - When Ford invites you to a ‘track day’ you know there will be some serious goings-on, but even I didn’t expect to have the chance to try to tame a 662-hp monster (yes, in a ‘stock’ street car) around one of the most demanding tracks in Canada – Calabogie Motorsports Park.
The all new 2013 Ford Mustang Sheby GT500 is powered by an aluminum 5.8-litre supercharged V8 producing 662 horsepower and 631 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful production V8 engine in the world, and that alone made me smile.
Add to that the impressive fact that Ford has ‘optimized’ just about everything else on the Shelby, including, brakes, gearing and suspension. It also features new downforce- generating front grilles, aggressive splitter, new quad exhaust system and two new forged-aluminum wheels. Options include a Performance Package with adjustable dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential – just in case the ‘base’ Shelby isn’t enough for you.
Now, I should mention that this isn’t the first time I have driven the latest and greatest Shelby GT500 around this track. I attended this same event for the last Shelby and I remember that while the previous one was good, it still lacked in some areas, noticeably the brakes (which had warped rotors after a day of media pounding) and seats that offered little support. Thankfully, Ford put the right (Recaro sport) seats in this car.
My first task is to use the Shelby’s new launch control to set a 0-60 mph time. Most of you know I hate these things. I prefer to rely on skill and soft feet to make the best launch. With the Shelby, it’s me versus electronics, and suffice it to say, I need new feet. I manage a perfectly launched time of 4.1 seconds. My worn out feet with no aids can only muster a 5.0.
It takes me a lap of the 20 turn, 5.08-km Calabogie ‘long’ track to settle in, but immediately I notice a few things about the new Shelby. First, and foremost, there is no lack of power. Even on my out lap I see 210 km/h down the short back straight … and it stops - the Shelby now has six piston Tremec calipers with 15-inch vented front rotors up front and single piston 13.8-inch rotors on the back. After two days of pounding, the Shelby stops well with no fade…and that’s very important when you figure out that you are arriving at a corner going considerably faster than you thought possible.
New gear ratios in the six-speed manual transmission are well spaced, and long enough so you are not constantly running out of revs. In fact, most of the track is second and third gear, but on the straights you can get to the limiter in fourth – 215 km/h.
I will say that this is the best handling Shelby yet – nicely balanced; and turn-ins are sharp and precise. Throttle modulation is the key to good exits out of turns. Simply planting your right foot will point you backwards quickly – with the Advance Trac (traction control) turned off.
This is a seriously fast car, in which you really do need the electronic aids to help you.
Starting at $61,699 the Shelby GT500 I think can be classed as a not only a ‘muscle’ car, but a true supercar, one that any sport minded driver would be happy to own.
All in all the new Shelby lives up to the recently departed namesake Carroll Shelby’s vision of what a Shelby should be and he can rest in peace knowing that the latest Shelby is truly worthy of having his name on it.
As my time in the Shelby comes to an end, I leave this Shelby experience with a vastly different feeling than the last time I was here. Then I get to meet the Boss.
The 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 puts out 444-hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque from its normally aspirated 5.0L V8. A race-inspired clutch with upgraded friction materials transmits power, while a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual handles gear change duties.
Having just climbed out of the Shelby, I don’t want to say the Boss felt slow, but clearly, it doesn’t have the sheer grunt of over 660 hp. What it does have more than makes up for that lack of power. The Boss drives a lot lighter than the big Shelby, and the close ratio gearbox means you put in a little more work on the track, but it’s worth the effort.
This is the best balanced Mustang out there. The Boss can be thrown around with reckless abandon and it is easily manageable. Ford has built the perfect track car in the Boss and it’s a steal at $48,799.
The Shelby GT500 – and this is the only time I have ever said this – has too much power for most people. A fairly short straight with your foot planted will see you hit 200+ km/h in short order – remember the Shelby will go from a standing start to 160 km/h (100 mph) in just over seven seconds (about the time it took you to read that last sentence).
The good news is there is now a choice for all of you from Ford. You can choose a brilliant street and track car in the Boss 302, or you can choose to beat the racetrack into submission with the Shelby, the choice is yours.