Ford has made it official. With 526 horsepower, the 5.2-liter V-8 that will power the 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R will be the most powerful atmospheric engine Ford has ever produced for a road car. That’s over 100 horsepower per liter, without the use of forced induction.

Instead of turbocharging or supercharging, the new engine, which is unique to the GT350 and GT350R, makes its power the old-fashioned way: displacement and high revs. The flat-plane crank V-8 revs to a stratospheric 8,250 rpm and delivers maximum power at 7,500 rpm. Peak torque is 429 pound-feet and arrives at 4,750 rpm. Its rev-happy character and peaky power delivery is more in line with what you would find in a race engine, and Ford points to the engine’s track-friendly spread of 3,000 rpm between peak torque and horsepower.

Continue reading for the full story.

“Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant.” Says Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi. “The high-revving, naturally aspirated 5.2-liter flat-plane V-8 delivers on every target we set – high horsepower, broad torque curve, aggressive throttle response and light weight.”

If you don’t know how to operate a clutch pedal and plan on buying a GT350, you'd best start learning.

The reduced engine weight Hameedi refers to comes thanks to the new engine’s all-aluminum block, which also uses Ford’s plasma-transferred, wire-arc cylinder-liner technology. This process eliminates the need for heavy iron cylinder liners and first appeared in the 2011 GT500. The Nissan GT-R uses a similar process as well.

If you don’t know how to operate a clutch pedal and plan on buying a GT350, you’d best start learning. A six-speed Tremec TR-3160 manual gearbox will be the only option, and it will have a dual-mass flywheel, dual-disc clutch and a lightweight, die-cast aluminum case.

Why it matters

In a time of engine downsizing and turbocharging, engines like this are becoming a rare breed. Ford boasts that V-8s like this are only found in Ferraris, but once the 2016 488 GTB goes on sale, normally aspirated Ferrari V-8s will be extinct.

Call me a luddite (and I suspect there are a few more of you out there), but I’ve always enjoyed the linear power delivery and noise that a well-sorted normally aspirated engine offers. I’m willing to sacrifice low-end torque for the howl of a high-revving engine when taken to 8,000 rpm. Like a manual gearbox, engines like this make you think more. They require work and anticipation to keep them on-boil, but it’s a hugely rewarding experience.

Unfortunately, it’s an experience that not many new cars offer. Thanks to increasingly stringent emissions tests that don’t reflect real-world driving, turbocharging and hybrids are now the way forward. This high-revving, 526 horsepower V-8 might be the last of its kind.

Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

2016 - 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang Exterior
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Read our full review here.

Press Release

Its crankshaft may be flat, but its power output is anything but “plane.”

Ford announced today the most powerful naturally aspirated road-going engine in its history. The all-new Ford 5.2-liter flat-plane crankshaft V8 will produce 526 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque in Shelby GT350 Mustang and Shelby GT350R Mustang – an engine unique to the two models set to go on sale this fall.

Shelby GT350's New 5.2-liter V-8 Delivers 100 HP Per Liter High Resolution Drivetrain
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“The Shelby GT350 program began with a clear objective – create the most balanced, nimble and exhilarating production Mustang yet,” said Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance chief engineer. “Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant. The high-revving, naturally aspirated 5.2-liter flat-plane V8 delivers on every target we set – high horsepower, broad torque curve, aggressive throttle response and light weight.”

The all-new 5.2-liter V8 is not only Ford’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever, but also its most efficient in terms of specific output. Without turbocharging or supercharging, the flat-plane crankshaft V8 produces 102 horsepower per liter of displacement. The new engine is also the highest-revving V8 in Ford history – with a redline of 8,250 rpm.

Unlike traditional V8 engines, the all-new 5.2-liter uses a flat-plane crankshaft more typically found in a Ferrari sports car or in racing applications. The design of this new engine for the Shelby GT350 was optimized using computer-aided engineering and fully digital performance simulations. Millions of intake, cam and exhaust configurations were iterated before arriving at the optimal combination.

Better engine breathing delivers optimal power

Shelby GT350's New 5.2-liter V-8 Delivers 100 HP Per Liter High Resolution Drivetrain
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Traditional cross-plane crankshaft V8 engines attach the piston-carrying connecting rods to the crankshaft at 90-degree intervals, creating a “cross” of counterweights when viewed down the axis of the crankshaft. In the all-new Ford 5.2-liter V8, the connecting rods attach to the flat-plane crankshaft at aligned 180-degree intervals – creating what looks like a flat line of counterweights when viewed down the axis of the crankshaft.

Beyond a change in the characteristic sound of an American V8, the flat-plane crankshaft helps improve cylinder exhaust-pulse separation by allowing a firing order that alternates ignition events between the V8’s two cylinder banks. This can vastly improve engine breathing, and subsequently allow the engine to make more power.

The result in the new 5.2-liter V8 – in addition to a uniquely exotic, delicious engine note – is 526 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 429 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,750 rpm. Even more impressive is the track-tuned flexibility of the engine’s exceptionally wide powerband. It produces 90 percent of peak torque from approximately 3,450 rpm through 7,000 rpm, and features a racetrack-friendly spread of nearly 3,000 rpm between its torque and horsepower peaks.

Shelby GT350's New 5.2-liter V-8 Delivers 100 HP Per Liter High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 632359

In both Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R, the all-new 5.2-liter will be paired with a six-speed manual transmission as its only gearbox option. The Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual is specifically engineered for less mass and high-rpm application in the new Shelby Mustangs. The six-speed features a lightweight, die-cast aluminum case and clutch housing for increased overall powertrain stiffness. Gear cross-sections, the dual-mass flywheel and dual-disc clutch are all optimized for an overall reduction in inertia and weight.

Other aspects of the new 5.2-liter V8 (actual displacement is 5,163 cubic centimeters) include a slightly oversquare bore and stroke of 94x93 millimeters, and a performance-enhancing 12.0:1 compression ratio. Computer numerical control-machined cylinder heads house camshafts that develop a massive 14 millimeters of lift for both the hollow-stem intake valves and sodium-filled exhaust valves. A single, fast-acting 87-millimeter throttle body – the largest ever used for a Ford engine – feeds air to the engine, allowing for a simpler, lighter intake.

Further reducing engine weight is a unique new aluminum engine block featuring Ford’s patented plasma transferred wire arc cylinder-liner technology. This process eliminates typical heavy iron cylinder liners with an electroplate coating. The forged-steel flat-plane crankshaft is “gun drilled” to reduce total engine weight and to improve bay-to-bay cylinder breathing. A lightweight, high-capacity composite oil pan contains baffling designed for sustained high-speed cornering and hard braking.

“A new Mustang as exceptional as the Shelby GT350 deserves an equally extraordinary engine,” said Dave Pericak, director, Ford Performance. “The all-new naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 perfectly fits the balanced dynamics of the Shelby GT350, and we believe this new engine will become a performance legend.”

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