The observe on the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, is a difficult and tight street course. OK, shoehorning in a miniature Laguna Seca inside the metropolis limits of the Detroit suburb is an unrealistic expectation. However the M1’s slim width, sharp turns, ridiculously tight hairpin, and quick, 1.5-mile structure appears ideally suited to one thing small and light-weight, like a Mazda MX-5 Miata or scorching hatchback.
But the M1 Concourse is the place I am getting my first stint behind the wheel of the 526-horsepower 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. It is probably the most track-focused ‘Stang you should purchase as we speak. However is it an excessive amount of to deal with on a good observe like this?
One of many GT350’s key upgrades for 2019 is a brand new set of tires: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubbers change the outdated Pilot Tremendous Sports activities. Along with the additional grip afforded by these sticker sneakers, side-to-side weight switch and total stability is improved because of recalibrated adaptive damper tuning, in addition to stiffer entrance and rear springs, and a thicker rear antiroll bar.
Hitting your required turn-in, apex, and track-out factors is straightforward because of the GT350’s responsive and communicative steering, to not point out its outstanding chassis reflexes. Via M1’s tight hairpin flip, a contact of understeer exhibits up, nevertheless it’s simply corrected by dialing in additional throttle to get the rear finish to rotate.
New Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires play an enormous half within the GT350’s sharper reflexes.
Down the half-mile straightaway, the GT350’s 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated, flat-plane-crank V8 actually will get to work, with 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque on faucet. This is similar engine as final yr’s GT350, and it is completely sensible, with robust, linear energy supply all the best way as much as the Eight,250-rpm redline — and a wonderful accompanying soundtrack, besides. The Tremec six-speed handbook transmission affords exact motion, mixed with a properly weighted, easy-to-work clutch pedal.
Ford says the coupe’s restyled entrance fascia and new rear spoiler supply huge aerodynamic enhancements, however I can not go quick sufficient on the M1 to essentially say I discover them. Nearer to the Shelby’s 180-mph high velocity, nevertheless, I am positive these tweaks are useful.
The sweeping-right Flip 6 requires a agency foot on the brake pedal, asking the six-piston entrance and four-piston rear Brembo calipers to sluggish issues, which they do rapidly and steadily. Properly-spaced pedals enable for heel-and-toe shifting, and mixed with instantaneous throttle response, downshifting earlier than every flip is an absolute cinch.
Suspension and tire upgrades make the Shelby GT350 a magician round a race observe.
What impresses me most in regards to the GT350 is how forgiving it’s proper as much as the restrict. That is an extremely approachable automotive, but nonetheless sufficiently uncooked and oh-so enjoyable. Whether or not you solely have average observe expertise otherwise you’re a full-fledged observe rat, you’ll drive the GT350 onerous and have a blast whereas doing so.
In fact, I ponder how the GT350 will maintain up after longer observe periods. Will the practically three,800-pound curb weight wreak havoc on the brakes? How will these new tires maintain up? M1 Concourse is a superb place to expertise the brand new Shelby briefly, however for a automotive designed for observe use, I will be to see the way it handles a full day of enjoyable.
Livable, however thirsty road automotive
The GT350 is not the proverbial one-trick pony. The Shelby is simply advantageous for daily-driving duties, its Regular drive mode providing cheap give from the adaptive dampers, lighter steering and fewer ferocity from the lively exhaust. Sure, you’ll be able to really feel impacts from huge bumps, however driving the Mustang GT350 round metro Detroit is way from jarring.
It sounds nice, however the flat-plane V8 is a thirsty, 526-horsepower satan.
Except you are an expert driver, chances are high blitzing round race tracks every day will not be within the playing cards and romping round on the road is. For that, I am blissful to report that the Shelby is simply advantageous for that, too. The Regular drive mode offers cheap give from the adaptive dampers, lightens steering, and simmers down the tone from the lively exhaust. Impacts from larger bumpers are most positively nonetheless felt within the cabin, however are removed from jarring. The one small difficulty is that the massive, aggressive 295/35R19 entrance and 305/35R19 rear Michelin tires are susceptible to tramlining on rutted Michigan roads.
The most important deterrent to driving certainly one of these day by day is gasoline financial system; the EPA estimates the 2019 Shelby GT350 will return 14 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 21 mpg freeway. These numbers are low sufficient to warrant a $1,300 gasoline guzzler tax, too.
Supportive and cozy Recaro race seats come customary within the GT350.
Easy and purposeful cabin
Inside, the 2019 GT350 is just about the identical as its predecessor. Exterior of latest aluminum sprint trim and suede door panel inserts, you will discover acquainted Mustang environment. Normal Recaro entrance race seats are cozy and maintain passengers snuggly in place, and the tight backseat is greatest used for less than young children. Construct high quality is on par with the Chevrolet Camaros and Dodge Challengers of the world — in different phrases, good however not nice — and the trunk affords respectable cargo-carrying potential, with 13.5 cubic ft of area on supply.
On the tech entrance, the GT350 makes use of Ford’s tried-and-true Sync three interface, housed on an Eight-inch touchscreen. A nine-speaker audio system, satellite tv for pc radio, Wi-Fi hotspot, and each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come customary. Navigation with real-time site visitors and a brand new 12-speaker B&O sound setup are non-compulsory. For security, a rearview digicam is customary, whereas accessible options are restricted to blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Mustang to get in case you’ll be heading to the observe typically.
A dear Mustang
The 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is on sale now with a base value of $59,140, not together with $1,095 for vacation spot or the $1,300 gasoline guzzler tax. That places it in an fascinating spot. It is barely extra reasonably priced than the 650-horsepower Chevy Camaro ZL1, which begins at $62,000. However tack on the non-compulsory, $7,500 1LE Monitor Efficiency Package deal and the Camaro will get far more costly. You get much more energy, however you pay to get the Camaro’s sharper reflexes.
Alternatively, subsequent to a $69,150 BMW M4, the Shelby seems like a extremely good worth — particularly for a coupe that feels so particular pushed onerous on a observe. If it is the best-handling Mustang you are after, the 2019 Shelby GT350 is certainly the one to get.