Lee Iacocca would have been proud of the latest horsepower race since he was around for the original one. The point then as now was to move metal – lots of metal as in sales. Year-to-date through June Mustang sales are off -7% at 21,625 compared to 23,264 year-over-year. As the latest Mustang performance lineup debuts, the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT350R has minor tweaks via new tech and colors from its GT500 partner in street crimes. This in the absence of law enforcement should make them fun to drive on the street and competitive on the track.
Retail sales of special performance series Mustangs (GT350 and Bullitt) were up 39% in Q2 of this year, leading to an overall retail share gain for Mustang this year and increasing Mustang transaction pricing by $1,200 over a year-ago to $36,300 per car. However, Ford doesn’t break out the sales numbers by variant, but obviously the gain wasn’t nearly enough to offset the decline in the balance of the Mustang business or the failing car business (-23% ytd)
With enhanced handling and steering responsiveness, Shelby GT350R alterations for 2020 include redesigned front suspension geometry with a high-trail steering knuckle from the all-new Shelby GT500. To elevate “driver confidence and steering precision,” a new steering rack and recalibrated electric power steering control is also added.
The donor Shelby GT500 car on a drag strip runs mid-three-second 0-60 mph times, and a sub-11-second quarter-mile – it’s claimed. On a track, performance with its race-bred chassis, custom Michelin tires and the largest front brake rotors ever available on an American sports coupe should make it challenge the best metal and/or carbon fiber 4-wheel-beasts out there.
Shelby GT500 has a supercharged 5.2-liter aluminum alloy engine built by hand. To keep the intake air cooler and deliver a lower center of gravity, the team inverted a 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger with air-to-liquid intercooler tucked in the V8 engine valley.
As with the Shelby GT350, the aluminum alloy block has weight-saving wire-arc cylinder liners and high-flow aluminum cylinder heads, plus larger forged connecting rods, improved lubrication and cooling passages. Beneath that, a structural oil pan adds strength, reduces vibration, and has a patented active baffle system to keep oil where it’s needed.
GT500 engineers selected a TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which shifts smoothly in less than 100 milliseconds it’s claimed – faster than any manual gearbox. This dual-clutch transmission is designed for several drive modes, including normal, slippery, sport, drag and track, and features line-lock and rpm-selectable launch control through selectable Track Apps.
“It’s always been our plan to take the latest innovations from the GT500 program and strategically apply them across the Mustang lineup,” said Ed Krenz, Ford Performance chief program engineer. “These latest updates to the GT350R keep its performance competitive and on the top if its game, whether that’s on the track or on the street,” said Ed Krenz, Ford Performance chief program engineer.”
GT350R continues to also deliver weight reduction with a rear seat delete and carbon fiber wheels. Exhaust resonators also have been removed for weight savings with the benefit of creating a sharper exhaust tone.
The 2020 Shelby GT350 carries over previous updates above, including the latest advances in tire, aerodynamics and chassis technology. GT350 shares some new Mustang colors and new driver technologies. Grabber Lime and Twister Orange are two bright, new heritage feature colors that trace back to the 1970s, while new Iconic Silver and Red Hot Metallic provide some classic hues to the lineup.
For customers seeking more comfort in their Shelby GT350R, Ford offers an available Technology Package with a 12-speaker B&O premium sound system, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Cobra Puddle Lamps and voice-activated navigation. Also standard are carbon fiber wheels, larger front splitter and rear wing.
Different from GT350, GT350R has distinct – or is that stereotypical – design details. Exterior touches include red painted brake calipers, red pin striping at the edges of the optional over-the-top racing stripes and Shelby GT350R badging. Inside is high-contrast red stitching, Shelby GT350R badging and the D-shaped steering wheel fitted with a red center mark at the top.
FordPass Connect is now standard on Mustang for 2020, allows owners to interact with their vehicles via a smartphone. Using FordPass Connect’s phone application, GT350 owners can locate their parked car, lock and unlock it, and check vehicle status, such as fuel, oil levels and maintenance alerts. The availability of these features varies by market.