Cars.com photo by Aaron Bragman
Last spring, I took a circuit abaft the caster of the new 2019 Ford Mustang GT350 — one of no beneath than nine achievement variants of Ford’s sports car that the aggregation now affairs to action for 2020. And I did adore my acquaintance — absorption whether the GT350 is the best Mustang anytime made. Its mix of arch clue achievement and appropriate circadian livability was a acceptable combination, but if you intend to use your GT350 on the clue added than you plan on application it to commute, Ford has article new for 2020 that you ability be absorbed in: the 2020 Shelby GT350R. Not that the basal GT350 is any slouch on a alley course, but the improvements Ford fabricated for 2020 (based on acquaint abstruse from development of the still-to-come Shelby GT500) accomplish the R adaptation alike added accessible for the track.
Related: 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 First Drive: Is This the Best Mustang Anytime Made?
The changes from GT350 to GT350R aren’t all that dramatic. The capital ambition actuality was to abate some weight and advance the car’s livability for 2020. To cut weight, Ford engineers deleted the rear bench in the GT350R, and fabricated the cool ablaze carbon cilia auto standard. The absolute weight accumulation is about 88 pounds, which is not bush back atom ounces can advance lap times. Added affecting are the administration changes that the failing auto effect, in aggregate with a new advanced abeyance bureaucracy that has new council knuckles. These are pieces afflicted by the accessible GT500, say Ford engineers, and are advised to accomplish the GT350R beneath affected to tramlining on the streets (steering actuality afflicted by grooves, ruts and imperfections in the alley surface).
Combined with a new council gear, the aberration is attenuate — on my abrupt artery drive of the GT350R in burghal Detroit, there was still affluence of tramlining, but I was not actuality agape all over the lane like the antecedent car. My aftermost circuit in a GT350R was a long-distance drive from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Eldora Speedway in Ohio in August 2017 to do some hot laps in a Ford Raptor with NASCAR disciplinarian Tony Stewart. Powering through asperous architecture zones at artery speeds was a white-knuckled activity at the time, fabricated alike added so by the accession of cloudburst rain and track-ready tires.
While the 2020 car’s Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are still absolute abundant track-focused meats, they’re decidedly tolerable back army to the failing carbon cilia auto and a MagneRide cyberbanking adaptive abeyance that’s accepted on the GT350R.
This isn’t to say that the GT350R would accomplish a abundant commuter, as it would not, unless the anchorage you drive to assignment are bottle bland and chargeless of blemishes. The ride is absolutely stiff, and the Recaro seats in the Mustang are skewed against support; there’s no added added in them at all. The abridgement of a backseat additionally banned the Shelby GT350R’s account as a circadian driver, but all told, that’s accomplished — that’s not the car’s purpose at all.
You can drive in the GT350R, but its absolute acumen for activity is to be apprenticed to the track. Already on the track, it’s aloof as august and advantageous as the approved GT350. The accepted 526-horsepower, flat-plane-crank 5.2-liter V-8 agent impossibly sounds alike bigger in the GT350R, central or alfresco the car, acknowledgment to the abolishment of the bankrupt resonators. If you bulb your foot, you are able with ample torque, copious dispatch and an amazing babble from the free-flowing, failing exhaust. The GT350R doesn’t acquire the atomic dispatch that you’d acquisition from a supercharged Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, but the Mustang is a far better-balanced car all-embracing than that Mopar monster.
The Shelby GT350R’s antithesis is advanced and centermost back you’re negotiating a alley course. It appearance direct, beautifully acknowledging council with aciculate turn-in that makes the car feel far lighter than it is. The anchor provided by the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires is amazing — overdriving the tires, already they’ve got some able calefaction in them, is absolutely difficult to do. The brakes booty the big auto bottomward from acceleration with gut-wrenching force, and do so over and over with no achromatize whatsoever. Gone are the slotted rotors as well; they’re now smooth, with Ford citation chump acknowledgment that constancy and backbone were added important than any slight added achievement addition that slotted rotors ability provide. The weight antithesis is absurd as well, afresh accidental to that activity of animation that belies the Shelby’s absolute portliness.
Does the 350R feel appreciably altered from the approved Shelby GT350? No, it absolutely doesn’t. It looks a bit different, central and out, with its altered red accents, red pinstriping, red anchor calipers and badges, and red bond throughout the interior. Both the Shelby GT350 and GT350R are outstanding clue cars appropriate off the exhibit floor, and both are acutely agreeable to bung about a alley course. But the differences amid the two acquire added to do with weight and slight changes to aerodynamics, and those differences absolutely alone alpha to apparent at abundant college speeds than I saw in my clue time at the clandestine M1 Concourse clue in Pontiac, Mich. The bigger catechism is how abundant altered does the GT350R feel from the GT500? That’s a catechism I’m activity to be able to acknowledgment in aloof a brace of weeks, back I will be accepting abaft the caster of Ford’s supercharged ultimate Mustang at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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Cars.com photo by Aaron Bragman
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