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2020 Ford Shelby GT500 First Drive Review

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The 2020 Shelby GT500 0-60 in 3.3 seconds, it can finish a quarter-mile in 10.7 seconds and is capable of a body jarring 0-100-0  in just 10.6 seconds. While much ado is made of there being no manual option, after spending the day taking the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 on the road, on the track and to the drag strip I can tell you that no manual is no problem when it comes to this Mustang.

Ths 2020 Shelby GT500 is a blast to drive, even if it’s tough to stick to the speed limit, and with the 760 horsepower 5.2L V8 under the hood that is capable of producing 625 lb.-ft of torque it’s easy to understand why. The dual-clutch transmission is capable of insanely fast shifts (80ms), and it knows when you want to hang in gear and take off.

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While it is doing a lot of the hard work and making me look better than I am on the track and on the drag strip, there is still room for capable drivers to take this machine further. My personal best 1/4 mile time was 11.384, but after fine-tuning and with more skill, another driver at the event was able to achieve a 10.8-second quarter-mile time. That’s close to Ford’s official time and illustrative of nature of the 2020 GT500. There’s a lot of capability in this vehicle, yet it is also very capable in the hands of driver that isn’t a professional or seasoned drag racer.

Thanks to the magnetic dampers and easily switched modes, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 adjusts easily to each of the three driving scenarios. While the Track Package Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires aren’t the best for daily driving on the road, they do an amazing job on the track.

2020 Shelby GT500 On the Track

The 2020 Shelby GT500 is a blast on the track.

The 2020 Shelby GT500 is a blast on the track.

The 2020 GT500 is an absolute blast on the track, screaming on straightaways and inspiring confidence on twists and turns. I tested a 2020 GT500 with the Carbon Fiber Track Pack.

While I’ve spent many days on the track, the thought of going full throttle as soon as I saw the exit point of my turn in the 760 horsepower GT500 sounded like a recipe for a chat with a track official at best and going off the track at the worst. Boy was I wrong. After two laps to feel out the car I listened to the advice of professional driver Billy Johnson and pushed the throttle to the floor exiting the turn. The GT500 responded with a roar, picked up speed and the rear end stayed exactly where it needed to. On the third corner, the same action throws the back of the car allowing it to swing, but the car simply does an amazing job of pulling it back in to keep you where you need to be. On a hot lap with Johnson, he showed us the ability to really throw the back end around with a fast lap and then a fun lap that included drifting.

Beautiful, functional carbon fiber rims and Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires.

Beautiful, functional carbon fiber rims and Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires.

The on-track performance is thanks to the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that stick and grip in impressive fashion. Combined with the massive 16.53-inch two-piece rotors and Brembo calipers it’s stunning how fast you can slow the GT500 down to get set up for the turn. The Carbon Revolution carbon fiber rims that are part of the track package are responsible for the handling and quick turning.

Of course, the experience is all building off the 5.2L V8 that delivers an impressive amount of power thanks in part to the Eaton supercharger. The DCT and Tremec 7 speed transmission work great, allowing you to approach the redline and then automatically snap off a shift. Having recently driven the GT350 with a six-speed, I certainly appreciate what it can do, but the GT500 is more capable in my hands, making for a faster track time where I can focus on the right line and pushing the car more.

I found the Recaro seats with embroidered Shelby Cobra logo comfortable on the track and on the road, without hugging me too tightly. Some of the other drivers at the event found the seat angle too aggressive.

2020 Shelby GT500 on the Drag Strip

Horsepower monsters like the GT500 are quite capable on the drag strip. I took several runs on the Drag Strip and managed an 11.384 in the Shelby GT500. While this wasn’t my first time doing a 1/4 mile, it was the first at a drag strip.

This is almost semi-autonomous drag racing thanks to two features built-in to the 2020 Shelby GT 500. With Line lock, it was easy to do a burnout before rolling up to the line and using launch control to rocket down the strip. Hitting the drag strip with this tech made it easy for me to get started with the experience and plenty of room for improvement on the driver side.

2020 Shelby GT500 on the Road

Get out of town and hit the road in the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

Get out of town and hit the road in the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

Taking the 2020 GT 500 out on the road I quickly discovered that this vehicle is not a fan of going 35 miles an hour. That said, it is possible to drive the speed limit with extra attention and still enjoy the exhaust note as well as the thrill of quick acceleration when you take the on-ramp to the highway.

The overall ride quality on the road is still very comfortable thanks to the MegneRide suspension that does a good job of soaking up imperfections. With multiple steering and suspension modes, you can choose the best feel for what you’re doing. On the highway back to the track, normal mode and normal or quiet exhaust showed the comfort and drivability for longer trips. On twisty roads in the desert, Sport mode offers a more engaging experience.

First Drive Review

Go big, or go bigger with the GT500 options.

Go big, or go bigger with the GT500 options.

If you are going to track drive your car, the 2020 Shelby GT500 is a very tempting option. The performance and all the capability you need are there and while the Carbon Fiber Track Pack tacks on an additional $18,000 you still get a super capable vehicle for under $100,000.

The 2020 Shelby GT 500 starts at $72,900, which is cheaper than the GT 350R. With the Carbon Fiber Track Pack, car cover, gas guzzler tax, and destination fee the model I tested was $92,890. You can push the envelope over $100,000 with the hand-painted stripe, but for most buyers, this car will sit under that $100,000 mark.

For this price, you get a beautiful Mustang with tech that trickles down from the Ford GT and the Mustang GT 4 race cars, a super-fast clutch and on-track performance that makes both you and the car look good. That’s the thing that I really came away with after driving it myself and going on a hot lap with a professional driver. The capabilities of the car made me feel closer than ever to the pro level driver. While there is definitely a canyon of skill between us, as evident when the driver turned off the electronic assist features, the 2020 Shelby GT 500 inspires a great deal of confidence and still has the capability to build on.

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