Review: 2011 Ford Shelby GT500
What’s the best noise in the world? Something deep, like an old muscle car. How about the newly revised 2011 Ford Shelby GT500? It’s hard to find a sports car that makes a better noise than the bigger and badder version of the base Mustang.
Last year, the old Ford Shelby GT500 got a few tweaks, mostly on the suspension, which was just terrible years ago. For 2011, Ford has improved things further with a new aluminum block for the V8. That makes the Ford Shelby GT500 more powerful and more fuel-efficient. In fact, the new pony car is so economical that it avoids the gas-guzzler tax.
Now, obviously the Ford Shelby GT500 is fast and quite loud, that much is clear. Around the track the Mustang eats away the Camaro and the base Corvette on the straightaway. The car hits 60 in 4.2 seconds and when the throttle is pressed all the way down you are pushed back into the seat with a force you would find in something propelled by rockets.
Hit the jump for the full review of the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500.
The solid-axle rear suspension makes the car eager to turn in, but doesn’t help the steering feel. Despite that, the Ford Shelby GT500 is easy to handle and feels more confident in the curves than the older model.
The Ford Shelby GT500 comes in two packages, a coupe and a convertible and although there are four seats on both, most people won’t be able to fit in the back. Not that it really matters in a car like this.
The GT500 comes with standard 19-inch wheels, high performance tires, Brembo brakes, hood-mounted heat extractors, a front air splitter, a rear spoiler, xenon headlamps, air-conditioning, cruise control, and many other options.
One of the options is a 10-speaker sound system, which is pointless because the engine is so loud that it won’t matter how many speakers you have or how loud they are, and anyway, who wants to listen to anything else besides the big V8. Other options include higher-performance tires and revised suspension calibrations.
Of course, the one thing that matters most in the Ford Shelby GT500 is what lives under the hood. The GT500 comes with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 that cranks out 550 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque available as early as 1,750 rpm. On top of all that power, the engine weighs 102 pounds less than the old motor.
So, you might be wondering how Ford managed to squeeze more power out of a lighter motor. Part of the reason was because of the introduction of the Plasma Transferred Wire Arc cylinder lining. This Ford-exclusive technology is being used for the first time and can decrease weight by 8.5 pounds. Ford also says that this new technology will help engine durability and improve heat transfer.
A short-throw six-speed manual transmission is the only option. The clutch is heavy, but amazingly precise for track driving. That being said, the heavy clutch might be an issue for stop and go traffic. Fuel economy is rated at 15 miles-per-gallon city and 23 highway.
With huge brakes and thick tires the Ford Shelby GT500 stops on a dime and brake-fade is not an issue.
On the track the Mustang is quite good when going straight, but the steering feel is still a problem. After driving the Audi S4 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, I was hoping that the GT500 would have the same tight feel from the steering. It doesn’t. The feel is too soft and too loose.
That being said, the car does corner pretty well. It feels composed and confident. The Ford Shelby GT500 lacks independent rear suspension and every once in a while you will be reminded of this with a bit of kick out from the rear under hard cornering. Learn how to control these slides and the GT500 can be a lot of fun to thrash around.
Inside the Ford Shelby GT500 is well designed, but doesn’t offer much more than the basic GT. The materials are soft and well constructed and Alcantara covers the wheel and the seats. Aggressive side bolsters keep you in the seat under hard cornering and the brilliant old-school shift knob is the icing on the retro cake.
The layout is user-friendly, but very black, almost dreary in a way. The dash is very high up and makes you feel cocooned in the cockpit. The GT500 also comes with the SYNC system, which is great in most cars, but a bit out of place in this pony.
Cargo room is 13.4 cubic feet in the trunk and the rear seats split and fold down. The convertible comes with around 9.6 cubic feet.
Overall though, nobody is going to care about trunk space or the SYNC system. What really matters with the GT500 is the power and the noise, and on that front, the GT500 is in a class of its own.