New Shelby GT350 Mustang revealed

Ford has unveiled a new high-performance version of its 2015 Mustang, the Shelby GT350, that it says continues the ethos developed by the original GT350’s creator, Carroll Shelby.

Shelby wanted to transform an every-day sports car into a road racer, and the result in 1965 was the GT350.

Ford chose to re-use the GT350 name for its latest performance car, and so arrives the new Shelby GT350 Mustang.

Power comes from a new 5.2-litre naturally-aspired V8 that develops more than 500hp and over 400lb/ft of torque, the first engine produced by Ford to use a flat-plane crankshaft.

While conventional V8 engines have their connecting rods attached to the crankshaft at 90 degree intervals, flat-plane cranks see the rods placed at 180 degree intervals.

This changes the firing order so that cylinders fire on alternate banks, and this reduces the overlap of pressure pulses in the exhaust system and aids engine breathing, particularly at higher revs.

Although Ford has yet to release performance figures for the new GT350, the company has placed a clear emphasis on dynamic performance as well as its straight-line speed.

Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development commented: “When we started working on this car, we wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive – challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes – and the track on weekends.  Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive power-plant – nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power.”

The GT350’s front track has been increased while ride height has been reduced and spring rates revised.  MagnaRide dampers, which use a hydraulic fluid with suspended iron particles to allow adjustment of damping force by applying an electric current, have their settings revised every 10 milliseconds for optimum performance.

The brakes have been upgraded, too, with two-piece cross-drilled 394mm diameter discs with six-piston Brembo calipers at the front, while 380mm rear discs use four-piston calipers.

New 19-inch alloy wheels – 10½ inches wide at the front, 11 inches at the rear – wear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres with a special sidewall construction developed especially for the GT350.

Externally, the aluminium bonnet is now lower and features a greater slope, while a new front splitter and rear diffuser optimise air flow.  A bonnet outlet extracts heat from the engine bay, a small lip spoiler on the rear deck is said to contribute to overall down-force, while vents in the aluminium front wings remove turbulent air from inside the wheel arches.

An optional Track Pack is available that adds engine oil and transmission coolers, with a rear differential cooler also available.

The interior features a flat-bottomed steering wheel, Recaro seats, upgraded gauges and reduced use of chrome trim.

An optional Tech Pack further adds power-adjustable leather seats, upgraded audio system, 8-inch touch-screen, and dual-zone climate control.

A new drive mode system allows drivers to alter settings for throttle response, steering assistance, ABS, stability and traction control, damper settings and even exhaust parameters.

Pricing and availability hasn’t been officially announced, although some sources suggest it will be priced from $52,995 in the US, with the Track Pack adding another $2,995.

There’s also the suggestion that a more focused GT350R will follow later.