Photography and video by: ©2017 Toni Avery
Nearly every performance-oriented car in a manufacturers lineup will at some point offer a hot or high-performance variant. In the case of Ford and the Mustang, one of the most well-known namesakes in American performance takes the Pony Car and turns it into one of the best car-for-the-money options on the market. The Shelby GT350 offers a powerful naturally aspirated heart wrapped inside of an even more aggressive body than the standard Mustang with more performance oriented features.
This Shelby is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2 L V8 Flat-Plane Crank engine producing 526 HP @7500 RPM and 429 lb-ft of torque @4750 RPM with a redline of 8,250 RPM mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission with stopping power provided by Brembo calipers with cross-drilled, two-piece rotors (15.5” front and 14.9” rear).
After my brief introduction to the GT350 out at Buttonwillow Raceway Park early last year, I was left wanting more. Thus, the Ruby Red Metallic Shelby was delivered to my house and so began my week with the Mustang.
One of the first things I noticed when starting the car was the light clutch pedal. It springs back pretty quick upon release and has a slight catch at the end helping to achieve a smooth up or down-shift. The very next thing that caught my attention was the intoxicating exhaust note. Make sure and flip the exhaust toggle to Sport for some of the best American gurgling exhaust noises in the industry.
This car has so many modes and settings to play with that each time I drove it, it made for a unique experience. The MagneRide Damping System adjusts and monitors road condition thousands of times per second for an incredibly dynamic feeling. Normal and Sport suspension modes offer such different experiences when driving. Normal still allows for the driver and passenger to feel the road and its many imperfections, while Sport takes it up a notch and offers a fairly rough ride with plenty of road feel. While for a long drive Normal mode is preferred, I still opted for Sport mode most of the week.
Steering modes include Normal, Comfort and Sport, which all provide a different feel. Normal is the most even and easy mode to drive in for daily commuting while comfort mode feels as though it adds significant weight to the wheel making for a less connected experience. Sport is the lightest and most responsive mode allowing for quicker inputs and more feel through the wheel.
The overall driving dynamics of the Shelby are very impressive. It still feels large in size just like any other Mustang but not necessarily in weight. The sounds emanating from the exhaust encourage you to push a little harder on the right pedal and the precise transmission rewards a perfect shift and the perfectly aggressive blip to match the revs makes you hope for an occasional red light or stop sign.
It feels faster than it does quick, while revving it all the way to 8,250 RPM will take you on a truly pulse pounding journey to the next higher gear. The Flat-Plane Crank engine in this Shelby is the first ever implemented in a Ford vehicle and is the most powerful and highest revving engine to come out of the Ford assembly plant to date. The brakes are possibly the touchiest I’ve ever used. Pressing down ever so slightly will practically bring the car to a halt. They respond aggressively to the slightest input while becoming easier to use with time.
It sounds, drives and responds like a car in a much higher price bracket. All the various temperature, level gauges and modes offer a uniquely custom experience that allows the driver to choose how they want their Shelby to drive.
This Shelby features standard 19” painted aluminum wheels in black, Over-The-Top Racing Strip package in black with white outer pinstripe (optional), black spoiler, and the body is finished in Ruby Red Metallic (optional).
The current generation of Mustang is the best looking since 1970, in my opinion, and the Shelby adds so much more aggression to the exterior that really separates it from a standard four, six or eight cylinder non-Shelby Ponys. From any angle it lets you know it’s a GT350.
The interior of the GT350 features a standard flat-bottom Alcantara steering wheel, Recaro cloth sport seats with Miko suede inserts (part of equipment group 900A), and a special numbered plaque.
You can never go wrong with Recaro seats, and these are no exception. The side bolstering is a little large for the driver, causing a bit of arm placement juggling for shifting, but other than that they are very comfortable for the street and are plenty snug providing proper support for the track.
The flat-bottom Alcantara steering wheel in addition to the race inspired seats gives the driver a completely connected feel and comfortable ride. And while getting to the back seats is a bit of a struggle, they provide plenty of room and comfort for someone about 5’ 8” and under depending on the occupants size up front. The overall look is a little sparse in details and color, but is on point where it counts.
The Shaker stereo delivered crisp and clear sound and the Apple Car Play connection worked as expected. The interface is bright and user friendly while time between pressing a command and it appearing on the screen was slightly delayed.
For the price, the Shelby GT350 is one of the best deals on the market in American performance. It’s fast, sounds great, is comfortable, fairly practical and looks mean. Who cares about MPG when every gallon used will put a smile on your face.
2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350:
Base Price: $54,295
Ruby Red Metallic, Over-The-Top Racing Stripe (Black stripe w/ white accent), Electronics Package
(Dual zone A/C, Single CD w/ Sirius XM, Voice Activated Touch-Screen
Navigation System), Gas guzzler tax
Price with Options: $59,465
Gas Guzzler Tax: $1,300
Destination Charge: $900
Total Price: $60,365
Fuel Economy: 14 City, 21 Highway, 16 Combined
GirlsDriveFastToo gives the 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 an overall rating of (out of 5 total):