2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 First Drive: Extra Accessible Efficiency


“Make it extra assured and intuitive to drive.” That was the suggestions present house owners of Ford’s wild-child, track-rat, flat-plane-crank, manual-only Mustang Shelby GT350 provided when the event workforce went asking. Though patrons of the Shelby GT350R are typically fairly completed sneakers, patrons of the “base” GT350 usually tend to drive their vehicles each day and take them to a observe a lot much less continuously. As such, these house owners are typically much less practiced and extra scared of wadding up their infants. The workforce saved this want in thoughts because it pushed the present Mustang platform to new ranges of efficiency whereas growing the forthcoming GT500, and is now rolling out a brand new GT500 with increased efficiency limits which are simpler to achieve. (The GT350R stays unchanged for 2019.)

Helping with the aforementioned growth was veteran race driver Billy Johnson, who’s spent three years working with the workforce whereas additionally racing Ford GTs and prepping the Mustang GT4 race automotive, which he is campaigning this yr. Billy apparently shares Randy Pobst’s knack for articulating how a automotive feels and serving to direct adjustments to make it really feel higher.

Maybe the lowest-hanging chassis-development fruit is enhancing tire grip. Tire Rack may also help you try this to your automotive proper now, however if you’re the Mustang workforce you do not name Tire Rack—you’re employed with Michelin to custom-tailor a tire to your automotive, and then you definitely re-tune the whole chassis to take full benefit of the newfound grip. Let’s begin with the tires.

Upgrading from Michelin Pilot Sports activities to Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires represents a severe efficiency and expertise leap. The GT350R has used wider-section variations of this tire from the beginning (305 entrance/315 rear to the GT350’s 295/305), and the tires look slightly related. Each characteristic a broad, featureless outer shoulder for lateral chew, three shallow tread channels (the outdated Pilot Sports activities had 4 deeper ones), and huge tread blocks. The tread-wear score is 180, down from 300 for the outdated Pilot Sports activities. We’re instructed the brand new ones ought to final 12,000-15,000 miles on the road (observe days will shorten their life—loads,). The tread compound differs from that of the GT350R. To make it extra street-friendly within the “shoulder seasons” (this IS a summer time tire), its “glass-transition temperature” (when rubber turns from grippy to hockey-puck slippy) is decrease—however by no means drive on them underneath a frost/freeze warning. The extra angular sidewall profile form and development contributes to the way in which the tire performs in lateral maneuvers (and serves to guard the edges from brushes with the curb). The scant shallow treads recommend these tires can be a handful within the rain, however Mustang chief program engineer Carl Widmann swears they meet the identical wet-traction requirements because the outdated one. Ford Efficiency-engineered tires put on an “FP” mark on the sidewalls that patrons must insist on when changing their tires. Often. (Tire Rack value: $1,822.74 for a set.)

Working up from the tires, the spring charges are stiffened 10 p.c in entrance, the place the anti-roll bar stays unchanged. In again the spring charges soften by 6 p.c to coordinate with a bigger, stiffer, hole rear bar (now 24mm, up from 22mm). The Magneride shocks are fully retuned to go well with these adjustments and the brand new tires, and in addition to benefit from enhancements within the software program and algorithms which have merely include the march of progress.