2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Gt350r First Track Drive

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Gt350r

Few things in this world are better than the 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 in the 2020 Ford Mustang GT350R. Yeah, that’s right, literally. If you doubt it, you just haven’t experienced revving it to the 8,250-rpm redline shifted through a six-speed manual. The noise, the response, the power … did we mention the noise? It’s shockingly been around for nearly five years now, yet the buzz has yet to wear off. It probably never will.

Of course, that V8 glory is found in the regular GT350 as well. The R variant stands taller with its lighter weight and greatly improved track capability and durability. Ford adds separate coolers for the engine oil, transmission fluid and differential fluid. The suspension is tuned to be slightly stiffer with heavy-duty springs.

Ford swapped the drilled rotors for solid ones — engineers say they get better pad life out of the solid rotors, and we noticed zero fade out on track. The electric steering, stability control and ABS have all been re-tuned. Then, Ford added a few convenience items like blind-spot warning and a B&O audio system to the Technology package to make the car slightly more livable on the street.

Let’s set aside the convenience features for now, because the GT350R would be tested this day at a racetrack. M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich., to be specific, and just like a kid in a McDonald’s play structure, leaving was the hardest part.

Just like the specs suggest, the engine works on track, too. Unfettered by a turbocharger, throttle response is precise and the rear wheels aren’t overwhelmed by torque. The aforementioned Track mode heightens this precision further,

Of course, Ford didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel here for the 2020 GT350R, making only minor improvements to the car. Upgrading from a previous model year is hardly necessary. Those from outside looking in, however, should by all means snap one up. Cars and engines like this don’t last forever.

With the Shelby GT500 launching soon, the ultra-expensive Mustang discussion is about to become even more difficult for the 2020 model year. While the GT350R goes for $74,530, a completely base GT500 starts at $73,995 despite serving up a whopping 760 horsepower. Output obviously doesn’t tell the whole story, and the two cars serve separate purposes, but Ford still expects the more powerful GT500 to eat into GT350R sales.