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The 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Is a Sharper Track-Day Steed

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 5/15/2019 David Beard

The 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 has received a thorough makeover to improve upon its already thrilling driving experience. Read the full story here.
The ongoing outburst for everything crossover has all but removed the sedan and car-based hatchbacks from Ford's lineup, leaving a drawer full of butter knifes in its wake. There is, however, one remaining blade with a definitive edge in Ford's arsenal: the iconic Mustang. More specifically, the hard-core 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, which Dearborn has honed to be an even sharper corner carver.

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a car driving down a street: The 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 benefits from stickier tires and revised chassis tuning to be a more capable driver's car.© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver The 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 benefits from stickier tires and revised chassis tuning to be a more capable driver's car.

While not a full revision, the latest Shelby's improvements start at ground level. Wrapped around a subtle new 19-inch wheel design are ultra-tacky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires in place of the previous Pilot Super Sports. The rubber is the first for Ford to be embossed with the "FP" label, denoting a specific Ford Performance compound. From there, the GT350's chassis has been tuned to maximize the newfound levels of grip, including 10-percent stiffer front springs that work better to keep the car's nose level under hard braking. In the rear, the coils have been softened by 6 percent, and there's a stiffer anti-roll bar to tighten up body control. The standard magnetorheological dampers also have been recalibrated. Unleashed around the skidpad, the updated GT350 managed a heady 1.09 g of lateral grip, a sizeable 0.07-g improvement over our long-term 2017 Shelby GT350 on Super Sports and just shy of the GT350R's 1.10 g of stick.

a blue car parked on the side of a building: We Test the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver We Test the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

The greater road adhesion from the stickier tires also prompted Ford to replace the Shelby's previous cross-drilled brake rotors with smooth-faced units and upgrade the braking system to deliver stronger clamping force. The new brake-and-tire setup hauled our test car down from 70 mph in 150 feet, in line with previous GT350 efforts. Ford says that the new rotors are less expensive to replace. But before you go counting the savings, know that the Cup 2 tires wear more quickly and are roughly $400 more per set than the previous Michelin Pilot Super Sports.

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A Sharper, Quicker Scalpel

The 2019 Shelby's exterior revisions take a careful eye to spot and include the fitment of the GT350R's smaller grille opening, which improves high-speed stability by reducing front axle lift by 13 pounds. A sleeker rear spoiler generates 135 pounds of downforce at 120 mph. Although that figure is 53 pounds less than the outgoing wing, adding the optional $895 Handling package tacks a Gurney flap on to the spoiler and ups the downforce on the rear of the car to 238 pounds. Also included in the package are adjustable strut mounts for dialing in additional negative wheel camber. On the street, the GT350's track alignment is still relatively aggressive for daily use and can cause the car to tramline in its lane and follow undulations in the road. But on M1 Concourse's 1.5-mile circuit in suburban Detroit, the changes to the GT350 are apparent as it flows from apex to apex with confidence and predictability. The revised electrically assisted steering operates with precision and transmits useful feedback as grip fades in the smooth transition to oversteer at corner exits. The Shelby remains a highly entertaining tool for scything through apexes and thundering through canyons.

a car driving on a city street: We Test the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver We Test the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

The GT350's naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-8 and its wicked flat-plane-crank wail still holds a spell over us at its 8250-rpm redline. Output remains the same at 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, and the standard Tremec T-3160 six-speed manual's gear swaps are still pleasantly crisp. With its additional traction, the updated Shelby explodes to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat, beating the previous GT350 by 0.2 second and it's just a tenth behind the lighter GT350R. The quarter-mile vanishes in 12.3 seconds at 119 mph.

The Shelby's interior is largely unchanged with the heavily bolstered Recaro performance seats remaining the cabin's focal point. For those with more modest intentions, heated and ventilated power-adjustable chairs wrapped in leather and with less bolstering are now optional for $495. The dashboard can be dressed up in exposed carbon fiber for $500, and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system, blind-spot monitoring, navigation, and heated exterior mirrors can be added as part of the $2000 Technology package. The 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 is on sale now with a starting price of $61,535. While that is a $3300 increase over last year's model, it seems like a reasonable hike for a car that's not just the sharpest Ford available to mere mortals, but also one of the most rewarding sold today.

a close up of a car: We Test the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350© Marc Urbano - Car and Driver We Test the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

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