With Ford now locked in a duel of the ages with Chevrolet as the Mustang and Camaro square off on the street, track and showrooms, Ford has a new answer to Chevy's range-topping Camaro ZL1 - and it is the heavily updated Shelby GT500.
While GM selected a 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8 for its range-topping Camaro ZL1, good for 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque, Ford has now answered with an all-new supercharged 5.8-liter V8 - which was initially expected to put out 650 ponies and 600 lb-ft of torque.
However, the SAE has certified the engine at 662 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque, officially making it the world's most powerful production V8. An impressive 395 lb-ft are available just off idle at 1,000rpm, making the GT500 an ideal burnout machine, and more 90 percent of the car's torque is available in the 2,200 to 5,800 rpm range.
Don't think that the new V8 is a one-trick pony, either - rated at a respectable 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, it's also the most efficient engine with over 550 horsepower in America according to Ford.
Shifting is handled exclusively by a six-speed manual transmission, which also features increased torque and rpm capacity thanks to its dual-clutch design.
To achieve such impressive power, Ford ditched the 5.4-liter V8 that has powered the range-topping Mustang for years, opting instead for an all-aluminum 5.8-liter V8. The SVT folk then added a new TVS series 2300 (2.3-liter) supercharger and a significantly upgraded cooling system that features a larger cooling fan, fan shroud with high-speed pressure-relief doors, an updated and more efficient air cooler, a higher-flow intercooler pump and a 36 percent bump to the intercooler heat exchanger's capacity.
Packing all of that power into the Shelby's updated body also results in a top speed that eclipses the 200 mile per hour barrier, although Ford hasn't specified exactly where this snake stops. While we are sure the massive power boost played a big role in that new top speed, Ford says there has also been considerable aero work done to this new Pony.
How much work? For one, front fascia and splitter modifications allow for 33 percent more effective aero at 160mph compared to the outgoing model, and continue on to allow for the extreme aero loads experienced above 200mph.
New for the latest model year
The latest GT500 is full of new technology throughout, so much so in fact it might be a good idea to list out at least the bulk of changes in one place: new 5.8-liter aluminum-block engine, new 2.3-liter supercharger, six-piston Brembo front calipers, new and larger front and rear brake rotors, new brake pads, new downforce-generating front grilles, new and more aggressive front splitter, new quad exhaust system, (two) new forged-aluminum wheel designs, defeatable launch control system, new (optional) Performance Package featuring new SVT-designed Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers and Torsen limited-slip differential, with the additional Track Package adding an external engine oil cooler, rear differential cooler and transmission cooler and revised gearing in order to help better distribute the uprated power to the ground.
How does the GT500 manage its traction problem?
Of course, when dealing with over 600 horsepower, traction management becomes a serious concern, to which Ford answered with more than just new gearing. A new, defeatable launch control system has been developed that allows drivers unprecedented levels of control, allowing for specific rpm launch points to be chosen based on elevation, tire and street temperature and other variables. This system is fully unique to the SVT lineup in that it is incorporated into both the engine control and traction control systems.
There is also a Torsen limited-slip differential that comes with the optional Performance Package, something Ford says helps even further to deliver maximum power output to the ground. Rounding out the driving dynamic upgrades are tweaks to the AdvanceTrac system, which now features appropriately adjusted steering assist levels based on the changes to the car.
With all this power comes the need to slow this 3,850lb beast to a stop, to which Ford, Shelby and SVT answered with a new Brembo brake system that utilizes new six-piston calipers in the front, along with larger front and rear rotors. Ford says it also developed new brake pads which are even more performance-oriented, intended to performance better under high-speed heavy deceleration.
Also part of the stopping equation are wheels and tires, to which the latest Shelby GT500 offers two new sets of forged-aluminum wheels including a unique wheel for cars with the optional packages. The 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels are coupled with Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires on all vehicle configurations.
The practically all-new Ford Shelby GT500 is built at AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.
While its most direct rival is the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the Shelby GT500 also has the firepower to compete with performance icons like the Chevrolet Corvette and the BMW M3.