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2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang First Test Review

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/14/2015 Jason Cammisa

The GT350R is a limited-production beast with carbon-fiber wheels and (from what we've heard) enormous dealer markups, but Ford has a lesser Shelby. Not much lesser, though—the GT350 shares the R's flat-plane-crank V-8, its supportive Recaro seats, and its bad-to-the-bone attitude.

When you drive it back-to-back with the R, you learn just how big a difference those lightweight wheels make: The GT350R feels hundreds of pounds lighter. It's not—just 67 pounds separated our two test cars—but the non-R's steering is heavier and less communicative, and it's noticeably less responsive to all inputs. Its Michelin Pilot Super Sports are 10mm thinner than the R's Pilot Sport Cup 2s, and grip trails off, too. 

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The only handling demerit the GT350 earns is electric power steering that runs out of assistance if you try to make quick corrections. Those, mercifully, are rare so long as you're not trying to drift it; the optional MR dampers provide the same supernatural body control that the R's do.

The GT350 trails slightly in acceleration. The R's additional traction off the line is responsible, as the Mustangs' passing times are identical. With one additional resonator in the exhaust, the non-R V-8 is quieter and less angry outside, but it's boomier and less pleasant inside the cabin.

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If it seems like we're less than stoked about the GT350, it's only because we also had the R. As long as you don't climb out of an R before driving a GT350, you'll revel in every part of it. A true driver's car is rare, much less one that's affordable. Or endowed with an 8,200-rpm V-8. Or steering and handling that shame the Germans. This Shelby settles any doubts. America now makes the best driver's cars in the world, R or not.

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2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang
BASE PRICE $49,995
PRICE AS TESTED $56,970
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe
ENGINE 5.2L/526-hp/429-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,781 lb (54/46%)
WHEELBASE 107.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 188.9 x 75.9 x 54.2 in
0-60 MPH 4.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 12.4 sec @ 117.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 102 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.00 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.2 sec @ 0.82 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 14/21/16 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 241/160 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.18 lb/mile

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