The high-performance muscle car war is on!

The Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 returned after five years with more power than ever, a menacing body kit and, for the very first time, a race-spec rear wing. With more than 700 horsepower coming from a supercharged V-8, the Shelby GT500 is notably more powerful than its traditional rival, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. So which modern muscle car is good enough to compete with the 2020 Shelby GT500? I think it’s the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, a car that FCA created to bridge the gap between the regular Hellcat and the drag-prepped Demon. Here’s how they compare.

Exterior

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Most of the features responsible for the GT500's aggressive design are located in the front

The 2020 Shelby GT500 is the most aggressive version of the sixth-generation Ford Mustang yet design-wise. It puts the GT350 to shame and it even wins against Shelby’s very own renditions of the supercharged Mustang, including the Super Snake and the 1000. Most of the features responsible for the GT500’s aggressive design are located in the front. I’m talking about the massive grille, which now incorporates the bumper center vent, and the wider fenders that extend toward the fascia and wrap around the headlamps and the lower side vents.

While the profile remains similar to the regular Mustang, the GT500 stands out thanks to its sportier side skirts, new mirror caps, revised wheels, and the rear wing. Around back, the wing taken from the GT4 race car makes an even bigger impact and places the GT500 in a league of its own when compared to its rivals. The diffuser is very similar to the GT350’s save for the bigger exhaust pipes, but it’s aggressive nevertheless.

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The Challenger Hellcat Redeye looks bland by comparison.

Although it's based on the Hellcat, it's not that much more aggressive than the regular Challenger.

Sure, it has a bigger vent in the front bumper, a notably larger splitter, and bigger outlets in the engine hood, but it won’t leave speechless the way the GT500 does. Onto the sides, it’s wider thanks to those aggressive wheel arch extensions, but that’s the only feature that sets it apart from an inexpensive Challenger SXT.

The story is similar around back. While the Redeye comes with a fair share of unique features, it’s not overly aggressive. It sports a spoiler instead of an actual wing, while the diffuser is more like an extension of the bumper instead of a proper, race-inspired aero device. The exhaust pipes are a tad larger than the base Challenger, but they’re mounted just like on the cheap models. Far from impressive!

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Design aside, these cars are notably different when it comes to size too. While the Mustang evolved into a proper sports coupe and became smaller, the current Challenger retains the characteristics of its spiritual successor from the 1970s.

Specifically, the Challenger is almost 10 inches longer than the GT500 at 197.7 inches.

They’re similar when it comes to width, but the Challenger sits around three inches higher from the ground. The Challenger also sports the longer wheelbase at 116 inches, nine inches more than the Mustang.

If I were to pick between these coupes based on the way they look, I’d definitely go with the GT500. Not only more aggressive, it’s also more compact and sleeker.

2020 Ford Shelby GT500 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye
Wheelbase 107.1 116.2
Front Track 63.3 65.6
Rear Track 63.7 65.7
Length 189.7 197.5
Width 81.9 85.4
Height 53.6 57.5
Ground Clearance TBA 4.5
Drag Coefficient TBA 0.398
Weight 3703 4492

Interior

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye
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Neither cars have a fresh interior design. The GT500’s, although based on the GT350, dates back to the Mustang’s introduction for the 2015 model year, while the Challenger Hellcat is heavily based on the mid-cycle facelift that Dodge launched for 2015. The Mustang was revised for 2018 with mild changes, but the Challenger’s 2015 update was worthy of a new-generation model.

Both Ford and Dodge made notable efforts to move their coupes closer to the premium market, but they can’t compete with German sports coupes from BMW or Mercedes-Benz yet. Fortunately though, these higher performance models boasts enough cool extra features to make you forget about the hard plastics and the cluttered center stacks.

The GT500 feels a bit more modern though thanks to its flat dashboard design overall cleaner layout.

If you like drive-oriented center stacks, the Hellcat Redeye is the best bet, as its center stack, which incorporates the infotainment display, is angled toward the driver’s seat. Speaking of which, they come with similar infotainment displays. While the GT500’s measures 8.8 inches, the Redeye’s has an 8.4-inch diagonal. Ford offers the bigger instrument cluster display though. It measures 12 inches and it’s notably bigger than the Challenger Redeye’s seven-inch display.

2020 Ford Shelby GT500 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Headroom Front 37.6 39.3
Headroom Rear 34.9 37.1
Legroom Front 44.5 42
Legroom Rear 30.6 33.1
Shoulder Room Front 56.3 58.5
Shoulder Room Rear 52.2 53.9
Hiproom Front 54.9 55.3
Hiproom Rear 47.4 47.8
Cargoroom (cu-ft) 13.5 16.2

The Cool Features

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye
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The GT500 can be fitted with Recaro racing seats with pass-through safety harnesses

The cool thing about these high-performance versions of popular muscle cars is that they’re packed with loads of cool features. For starters, both feature flat-bottom steering wheels wrapped in leather and fitted with contrast stiching. The Hellcat Redeye also includes a back-lit "SRT" logo.

If you’re a fan of carbon-fiber, you can order some for the dashboard in the GT500. The Hellcat Redeye, on the other hand, can be fitted with the lightweight composite material on both the center stack and the center console.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye Interior
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You can opt for a rear-seat delete in the Hellcat Redeye, a feature borrowed from the Demon

When it comes to upholstery, there’s a cool options that adds suede insert in Dark Slate with accent stitching in the GT500. In the Hellcat Redeye, you can pick from three different upholstery options, depending on which package you select. You can go with Nappa leather and Alcantara, Laguna leather, or Laguna leather and Alcantara.

If you like your car interior as close as possible to a race car, then you should know that the GT500 can be fitted with Recaro racing seats with pass-through safety harnesses. These seats come wrapped in black leather with white inserts on the aggressive side bolsters. However, you can opt for a rear-seat delete in the Hellcat Redeye, a feature borrowed from the Demon, and that’s something you can’t order with the Shelby. The Redeye also features a cool 220-mph reading in the instrument cluster.

Passenger Room and Trunk Space

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Is Now The Most Powerful Muscle Car In Production Interior
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Because the Challenger is a bit bigger, it offers a bit more space in certain areas

Okay, so you’re probably not buying a sports coupe based on how much headroom and legroom it offers, but if you’re planning to use them as daily drivers, you should take a look at these numbers.

Because the Challenger is a bit bigger, it offers a bit more space in certain areas. Headroom, for instance, is better in the Redeye, measured at 39.3 inches in the front and 37.1 inches in the rear. That’s 1.7 and 2.2 inches more than the GT500, respectively. When it comes to front legroom though, you get 44.5 inches in the GT500 and only 42 inches in the Hellcat Redeye. The latter offers a bit more in the rear though, at 33.1 vs 30.6 inches.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
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When it comes to trunk room, the Hellcat Redeye is the clear winner with 16.2 cubic feet

Shoulder room is very similar. The Challenger offers 58.5 inches in the front 53.9 inches in the rear, while the Shelby GT500 comes with 56.3 inches in the front and 52.2 inches in the rear. Finally, they’re about the same when it comes to hip room as well. The Dodge offers 55.3 inches in the front and 47.8 inches in the rear, while the Ford offers 54.9 inches in the front and 47.4 inches in the rear.

When it comes to trunk room, the Hellcat Redeye is the clear winner with 16.2 cubic feet. The Shelby GT500 falls behind by almost three cubic feet at a total capacity of 13.5 cubic feet. Simply put, while the Challenger offers almost as much room as a midsize sedan, the GT500 has the trunk of a compact car.

Drivetrain & Performance

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
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Both are powered by V-8 engines and both are supercharged

These performance coupes share three important things. Both are powered by V-8 engines, both are supercharged, and both are extremely powerful. The Challenger Hellcat Redeye has the bigger engine, a 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 shared with the Hellcat. The GT500, on the other hand, comes with a newly developed, 5.2-liter V-8. Both have similar superchargers tho, a 2.7-liter in the Hellcat Redeye and a 2.65-liter unit in the GT500.

The Redeye’s Hemi generates a whopping 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque, a solid 80-horsepower and 151-pound-foot increase over the Hellcat. Ford has yet to release a final output figure, but said that the GT500 will arrive with more than 700 horsepower. Word has it the V-8 could crank out 755 horsepower and more than 600 pound-feet of twist, but we won’t know for sure until later this year.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
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What we can be sure of is that the GT500 will be less powerful than the Hellcat Redeye. I expect a deficit of around 50 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque

Another thing these cars have in common is the transmission, automatic on both models. The Redeye features the eight-speed automatic available in many FCA vehicles, while the GT500 has a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. Neither automaker offers a manual on the options list.

2020 Ford Shelby GT500 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Engine 5.2-liter B-8 6.2-Liter Hemi V-8
Horsepower 755 (est) 797
Torque 600+ lb-ft(est) 707 LB-FT
Transmission Seven-Speed DCT Eight-Speed Auto
0-to-60 mph 3.4 sec (est) 3.4 sec
Quarter-mile Time >11 seconds 10.8 seconds

So which car is quicker? It’s difficult to tell as of this writing, as Ford has yet to release performance figures. We already know that the Hellcat Redeye hits 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, but Ford only said the GT500 will reach the benchmark in a mid-three-second sprint. This could be anywhere from 3.4 to 3.6 seconds, so there’s a big chance that the GT500 will be around a tenth-second slower than the Hellcat Redeye.

Ford also promises a sub-11-second quarter mile run, which makes the GT500 a bit quicker than the Redeye, which needs 11.1 seconds. However, the Widebody version gets there in 10.8 seconds, which could be better than the Shelby GT500.

Track-Duty Chassis

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye Exterior
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Ford used lessons it learned from the GT and Mustang GT4 racing programs

These coupes aren’t just powerful and fast. They were also designed to be used like full-fledged race cars on the track.

Ford, for instance, used lessons it learned from the GT and Mustang GT4 racing programs to turn the GT500 into a track vehicle. The underpinnings are similar to the G350, but Ford revised the suspension geometry and added lighter coil springs and a newer MagneRide active system. Agility was further improved thanks to a new, electric power steering unit.

A more powerful car needs better brakes, so Ford added new two-piece rotors and stiffer calipers that provide more than 30 percent of additional thermal mass over the GT350. The coupe rides on custom-made Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires but you can upgrade to better rubber with unique compound and tread.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye Exterior
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The Hellcat Redeye borrows various features from the Demon

The Hellcat Redeye borrows various features from the Demon, which was developed for the drag strip. Highlights include Torque Reserve, which delivers a boost at launch and up to 55 percent more torque, as well as an optional 3.09:1 final drive ratio. It also features the Demon’s Power Chiller, which diverts the air-conditioning refrigerant from the interior cabin to a chiller unit mounted by the low-temperature circuit coolant pump, lowering the intake air temperature and thus improving performance.

The chassis is very similar to the Hellcat’s, so it rides on the same Adaptive Damping suspension, SRT-tuned Bilstein dampers, and electric power steering. The Launch Assist system taken from the Demon prevents wheel hop during brutal launches. Stopping power comes from Brembo two-piece, 15.4-inch rotors and six-piston calipers in the front.

Final Thoughts

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye
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If you want a traditional muscle car that big, heavy, and powerful, the Hellcat Redeye is your best bet

I’m pretty sure the choice is really obvious for most people. I’m talking about the fact that muscle car enthusiasts are usually split into Ford, Chevy, and Dodge lovers. A Ford fan will go with the GT500, while a Dodge fan will pick the Challenger Hellcat Redeye. For those who don’t have a specific background, it’s actually a tough choice.

Design-wise, the GT500 looks better. What’s more, it looks like a modern sports coupe. The type that will compete against the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63 and beat both to a pulp performance-wise. It’s aggressive; it’s compact, it’s definitely American. The Hellcat Redeye is bigger, it’s not very different from the regular Challenger, and it just looks really heavy. And it is. The Hellcat Redeye is at least 200 pounds heavier than the GT500.

Both still look fresh inside and have the proper tech, but the Mustang has the better instrument cluster and a slightly better setup for track fun. On the flipside, you can ditch the rear seats with the Hellcat Redeye, which means a lighter car for quicker laps.

Performance-wise, it’s the Redeye that brings notably more power to the table. However, because it’s heavier, it’s only marginally quicker. This is still up for debate though until Ford releases final performance figures. All told, if you want a traditional muscle car that big, heavy, and really powerful, the Hellcat Redeye is your best bet. If you want a modern sports coupe that will destroy its German competitors, the GT500 is more than up for it!

Further reading

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 vs 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

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