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2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Review & Test Drive

posted by Harvey Schwartz  
Filed under Automotive, Featured, Ford, Test Drives

The all-new 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 delivers the most power and refinement ever for a Ford SVT-tuned performance Mustang-and a few surprises, too.

The 2010 model demonstrates Ford’s continuing commitment to high-performance vehicles.  In addition to the numerous performance and refinement improvements inside and out, the 2010 Shelby GT500 is an estimated 2 miles per gallon more fuel efficient on the highway.  “We’re proud of the many enhancements that were developed jointly by the Ford and Shelby Automobiles team last year that we’ve now incorporated into the new 2010 Shelby GT500,” said Carroll Shelby.  “Building on what we learned to create the Shelby GT500KR, this new car offers a great combination of power, handling and braking.  It is truly a special car that is a great deal of fun to drive.”

Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) used the gains made on the 40th anniversary edition Shelby GT500KR ‘King of the Road’ Mustangs as the performance starting point and built from there.  The design team with a not to the original Shelby Cobras from the 1960’s, takes those design cues ever further with nuanced improvements in both the coupe and convertible, each which boasts a more refined interior.  With the muscle car segment becoming more competitive, the 2010 GT500 is the car that will uphold the Mustang badge with honor and will help maintain Mustang’s leadership position at the front of the pack and make the ownership even more enjoyable.

The combination of added horsepower, refinement and functionality makes the 2010 Shelby GT500 a unique high-performance car.  The 2010 Shelby GT500 delivers more horsepower and torque than the outgoing model, thanks in part to advancements pioneered on the GT500KR.  The car is both so easy and exciting to drive that sometimes you really don’t realize you are behind the wheel of one of the fastest cars on the road.

The car is powered by a supercharged and intercooled 5.4 liter dual overhead cam V8 engine. That produces an incredible 540hp at 6,200rpm and a ground-thumping 510lb.ft. of torque at just 4,500rpm.  The car’s aluminum powerdome hood not only adds to the Shelby’s appearance, it also helps cool the engine through the wide hood extractor.  The compression ratio is set at a hotter 8:4.1.  The Shelby’s open-element air induction system features a conical air filter instead of a flat-panel closed system to reduce air restriction.  This approach allows more air to be pumped through the engine, producing more power and increasing the engine’s efficiency.  A cold-air intake feeds the coolest air possible directly into the air box, helping further to increase horsepower.  The intake necessitated moving the Cobra snake badge to the other side of the grille to enable maximum airflow.

The SVT designed twin-disc clutch on the Tremec TR6060 one-click, close-ratio, 6-speed transmission has been significantly upgraded, improving drivability and lower NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).  The discs on the 2010 GT500 are larger, 250mm in diameter compared to 215mm in diameter on the outgoing model-and made of copper and fiberglass to make them more robust.  A unique component of the twin-disc system is the control of the intermediate disc.  Rather than floating, it instead has six straps that control the engagement of the clutch, improving drivability.

The new 2010 Shelby GT500 also offers customers improved straight-line acceleration, plus fuel savings when cruising on the highway in top gears.  Gears 1-4 remain the same but fifth gear changes from .80 to .74 while six gear goes from .63 to .50, meaning that the 2010 Shelby GT500 will turn lower engine rpm’s in those gears and deliver improved fuel efficiency.  The new final drive ratio, from 3.31 to 3.5, enables the improved acceleration in lower gears while complementing the revised fifth and six gear ratios.  I had to go to Oceanside, a 100mi. drive, to shoot a custom vehicle last week and realized an excellent 27.8mpg while keeping speeds from 55 to 65mph in sixth gear.  On the other head the new Shelby GT500 can rocket out to 60mph from a standstill in the low 4sec. range.  You can have you cake and eat it too if you focus at both ends.

The Shelby’s distinct sound will be apparent as always, though with new refinements, thanks to the work of the NVH team at SVT.  A patented resonator placed between the air filter and engine throttle body helps keep unwanted noise in check.  You will still hear the supercharger but not so that it’s intrusive and it’s the same for the exhaust.  You want people to know you’re driving something special, but you don’t want and exhaust note that overpowers the whole interior.  At light or medium throttle with the windows closed you will hear only a slight growl and lighter whine from the supercharger.  But when you mash the throttle the sound produced is earth shaking and loud as you burn the tires and rocket out to 100mph in way less than 10sec.  It is the perfect balance when you want it.

Matching and taming the extraordinary power of the new GT500 is an improvement to the driving dynamics thanks to SVT’s signature chassis tuning as well as the new. Goodyear 255/40ZR19in. front and 285/35ZR19in. rear F1 Supercar tires and forged 19X9.5in. forged aluminum wheels on the GT500 coupe and 18’s on the convertible.

That is a lot of tire patch to improved straight-line acceleration and super-quick reaction to turn-in when cornering.  Spring and dampers have been optimized for better roll control, giving enthusiasts more confidence when braking, accelerating and turning.  The new chassis tuning takes its philosophy from the KR program, with a greater emphasis on primary body control.  The team also stiffened the steering shaft giving the feel just right at high speeds and when maneuvering around slower city traffic.  As is just said, turn-in is incredible, just a slight tug of the wheel pushing you to the side as the car tracks through a tight turn with ease.  You feel as if you are behind the wheel of a real GT race car, that’s how neutral and linear the feeling is when putting the car through its paces on the back roads.  Confidence builds at each turn as the adrenaline flows through you veins as you pick up more speed.  It is an athletic, confident feel you few other sports cars.  The shifter, clutch pedal, brake-pedal efforts and overall steering efforts are far easier now.  The crisp short-throw shifter is one of the best I’ve ever operated going from gear to gear.

The 2010 Shelby GT500 features AdvanceTrac, Ford’s stability control system with several options for performance.  The default ‘on’ mode accommodates every-day driving, and a ‘Sport’ mode delivers for those enthusiasts wanting to put the Shelby GT500 through it paces on the track.  The system also can be turned completely off, although the ABS and other active safety systems remain in place.

Quickly and safely slowing the new GT500 down from speed are massive Brembo brakes, 14in. front vented clamped with four-piston aluminum calipers, while the rear features 11.8in. vented discs clamped with two-piston aluminum calipers.  Enhancing braking distance and control are standard ABS, EBD and traction control.  The pedal action is very linear knowing that the harder you push the more stopping power will instantly be there.

Numerous aerodynamic upgrades, including a redesigned spoiler, were made to the front end of the new 2010 Shelby GT500.  SVT engineers worked long hours to get as much downforce with as little drag as possible.  They worked to seal off the air that comes in the front so it can’t go underneath the car.  They spent a lot of time sealing components such as the radiator and intercooler to get rid of all the leak paths.  The result of this evolution in aerodynamics is an increase in downforce, reduced drag and improved the overall efficiency of the 2010 Shelby GT500.   Directing the air so it’s used most efficiently was a painstaking process that ultimately will be rewarding to enthusiasts.  The design of the front fascia and the car’s ‘flush’ hood helps focus air flow.  The top grille focuses air into the radiator, with a rubber flap inside the engine compartment helping to seal the system.  The lower grille helps cool the intercooler.  SVT engineers also went so far to block off specific diamonds in the front of the 2010 Shelby GT500’s distinctive grille to help maintain the correct cooling and aerodynamic balance.  The rear features a diffuser to help better manage air flow out the rear for better stability.

The 2010 Shelby GT500 is the most-robust design and most-distinctive model of the new 2010 Mustang lineup.  The design chosen was a ‘flush’ hood where the fascia defines the entire front of the vehicle.  It was hard to execute from an engineering standpoint but it really sets the Shelby off as very, very different from the base Mustang.  It epitomizes the ultimate Mustang, it’s all about power and expressing power, taking a cue from the Shelby AC Cobra 427 with respect to the front grilles, which are gaping and appear ready to swallow the road.  Another obvious difference for the Shelby is the addition of racing stripes, which also will now be available on the convertible.  Racing stripes made their mark on 1960’s-era Ford Performance vehicles.  Rounding out the Shelby’s exterior modifications are the unique signature coiled Cobra badges on the front grille and front fenders, a more aggressive front splitter and lower-drag rear spoiler, which added to improved aerodynamic features.  The new spoiler is raked back aggressively to minimize drag, but it also has an integrated ‘Gurney Flap’ that provides the downforce.

The base 2010 Mustang received a powerful new interior design.  For the GT500 the interior design team members challenged themselves to raise the bar even higher to create the ultimate Shelby Mustang interior.  Using genuine materials such as real leather in all seats, real aluminum on the instrument panel and foot pedals, plus Alcantara inserts on the seats and leather-wrapped/tilting steering wheel, gives the appearance of a precisely crafted, jewel-like yet functional feel.  You know you are in a Shelby as soon as you slide behind the wheel.  The genuine aluminum finish panels have a unique-to-GT500 three dimensional dimpled texture pattern inspired by racing clutch plates, braided hoses and cross-drilled racing brake rotors.  The pattern has been painstakingly tuned to compensate for the compound curvature of the instrument panels.  In addition, the ‘GT500’ logo has been discretely engraved into the aluminum in front of the passenger as a nod to classic Shelby Mustangs of the 1960’s.  The unique aluminum finish panel is full encapsulated by an exquisite soft seamless TPO (thermoplastic Olefin) instrument panel with a shape that resonates with Mustang’s powerful heritage.  The center stack flows into the console and features a sub-flush shifter trim ring, flush cup holder door and lockable console stowage featuring the word ‘SHELBY’ engraved in its Satin Liquid Chrome release button.  All 2010 Mustangs and Shelby’s feature bright 360-degree rings surrounding the gauge cluster, uninterrupted by the steering column.  These rings will come in chrome for the Mustang and a Satin Liquid Chrome finish for the GT500.  This finish is featured throughout the interior.  An intricate Cobra is etched into the center of the aluminum steering wheel badge.  The Shelby Cobra appears at startup on the navigation screen, and the familiar red ‘SVT’ logo utilizes new ambient lighting to illuminate the door scuff plates.  When you drive this car your not only going to be impressed by the performance and the Shelby heritage, but your going to see all of these carefully designed details and know that you’ve bought a well-crafted car.

Even the classic white shift knob-an icon of Shelby Mustang DNA from year’s past-received special attention.  First, it had to be the traditional white.  It also had to be specific to the Shelby.  The answer was to combine the racing-stripes theme with the traditional ‘H’ pattern found on shifters to create a one-of-a-kink knob.  Like the exterior, the racing stripes wrap from end to end, encircling the knob, and it feels so perfect in your right hand that you will keep you hand over it.

Standard equipment included in the 2010 Shelby GT500, not mentioned above, includes dual exhaust with 4in. pipes, quad reflector with integral park/turn lamps (HID late availability), fog lamps, power mirrors, climate control, power door locks/express up/down front windows, floor mats with GT500 embroidered logo, ambient lighting with MyColor, boost gauge, 5-way power driver’s seat, Shaker 500 audio system with 8-speakers, AM-FM-6-CD player-MP3/Audio input jack, Ford SYNC, SIRIUS satellite ratio, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers/washers, map pockets, door storage, dual cup holders/storage bin, easy fill Capless fuel filler, auto headlamps, two power points, interior trunk release, rear window defroster, and dual map lamps.  Options include Voice Activated Navigation, dual electronic climate control, Satellite radio-park & play (plays, reads audio and video discs)-Music Jukebox (CD ‘Ripping’ capability), Shaker 1000 Audio System-AM-FM-6-CD player, MP3 & 10-speakers Weathershield Full Vehicle Cover with Shelby Script & Cobra Logo.

Standard safety features include drive/front passenger front/side airbags, 3-point safety belts for all four places with front load limiters/pretentioners, SOS post crash alert system, remote keyless entry, front/rear crush zones, steel beams in each door, LATCH child seat anchors, Securilock Passive Anti-Theft System, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Wow!  The new 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 has it all-the power, the performance-the handling prowess, the looks to turn heads, the latest high-tech goodies for all to enjoy, and the best part-it is the world’s ‘biggest bang for the buck’ award winner with a base price of just $46,325 and $50,805.00 as tested including the Gas Guzzler Federal Tax and Destination Charger.  You can’t beat it in any way.  Ford keeps the heart pumping!

COPYRIGHT:2010:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $46,725 As-Tested $50,805
Type: Midsize Coupe
Where Built: United States
EPA Class: Subcompact Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 188.2 in. Width: 73.9 in.
Height: 54.5 in. Wheel Base: 107.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3924 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 38.5 in.
Front Hip Room: 53.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 55.3 in.
Rear Head Room: 34.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 51.6 in.
Rear Hip Room: 46.8 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.4 in.
Rear Leg Room: 29.8 in.
Luggage Capacity: 13 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 4

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 8
Base Engine Size: 5.4 liters
Base Engine Type: V8
Horsepower: 540 hp
Max Horsepower: 6200 rpm
Torque: 510 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4500 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
0-60mph: 4.3 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 14 mpg / 22 mpg / 17 mpg
Range in Miles:
Manual: 224 mi. / 352 mi. / 272 mi.

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