Full 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Review
What's New for 2010
As with the rest of the Mustang line, the ultra-high-performance Ford Shelby GT500 receives numerous updates for 2010. Under the revised exterior styling, there's a tweaked suspension that gives the car the handling prowess it should've had last year along with newly standard (and adjustable) stability control. The cabin benefits from much improved materials and niceties that include dual-zone climate control and the Sync multimedia voice-control system. Finally, the supercharged V8 makes more power this year, cranking out a thundering 540 horsepower.
If you wanted the baddest Mustang available in 1967, you would've checked out the then-new Shelby GT500, which had a 428-cubic-inch (7.0-liter!) V8 that made a (conservatively rated) 355 hp. Back then, however, horsepower was rated differently. In today's numbers, that big V8's output would equate to about 300 hp. Forget about the '60s, though. Today you can walk into your Ford dealer and drive out -- sideways if you so choose -- in the 540-hp, 2010 Ford Shelby GT500, which will humiliate any of its illustrious forebears while still paying homage to their iconic styling. And thanks to this year's substantial revisions to the suspension and tire fitment, the 2010 Shelby GT500 also does quite well going around corners, too.
In addition to a newfound penchant for uncoiling a twisty road, this year's Cobra-festooned leader of the Mustang herd also gets cosmetic tweaks that refine the retro styling with beefier rear quarters and sequential rear turn signals. Less glamorous but more important changes occur within, where the cabin boasts much-improved materials, leather/suede upholstery, dual-zone climate control and Ford's useful voice-activated Sync system. Oh, there are also another 40 horses under the hood -- for an incredible total of 540 hp -- thanks to tweaks that include a cold-air intake, a less restrictive exhaust and more aggressive ignition timing.
This is a seriously fast car -- digest the following numbers if you can. The GT500 can charge to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds and obliterate the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds. These are times that are usually associated with high-dollar exotics wearing prancing horses and raging bulls -- not a coiled-up snake -- on their snouts. And unlike last year's version that had to be muscled through corners, the latest Shelby GT500 is much more at ease when the road gets twisty. Though this pony is still saddled with an antiquated solid-axle rear suspension and a less-than-ideal weight distribution, the latest GT500 boasts crisper turn-in and a more confident feel through the curves thanks to revised suspension tuning and new tire compounds.
As in the good old days, this muscular Mustang has worthy rivals from Chevrolet and Dodge in the form of the 426-hp Camaro SS and 425-hp Dodge Challenger SRT8. Those two competitors may not be quite as ridiculously quick as the Shelby GT500, but they offer much lower price tags -- some $13,000 lower in the case of the Camaro SS. That said, the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 still represents a bargain for those who seek supercar performance along with the cool looks, sounds and presence of a cherry late-'60s Shelby Mustang.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 is a high-performance variant of the Mustang. As such, it seats four and is available in coupe and convertible body styles. The GT500 comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels (18s on the convertible), high-performance Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires (255/45 front and 285/35 rear), Brembo brakes, hood-mounted heat extractors, a front air splitter, a ducktail-style rear spoiler, air-conditioning, cruise control, leather/suede-upholstered sport bucket seats with Cobra logos, a power driver seat, the Sync multimedia voice-control system and an eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD/MP3 changer and satellite radio. The GT500 convertible also comes with a power-operated soft top. Both the GT500 coupe and convertible have "GT500" side stripes, while the coupe also has racing stripes over the nose and tail. Ford offers a stripe-delete option for buyers who prefer a less ostentatious look.
Options include xenon headlights, an Electronics package (navigation system and dual-zone climate control) and an upgraded, 10-speaker, 1,000-watt sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive Shelby GT500 is powered by a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 that produces 540 hp and 510 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available. In performance testing, the GT500 coupe went from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 4.3 seconds and yielded a 12.4-second quarter-mile time. Fuel economy is rated at 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
With huge Brembo disc brakes at all four corners, brake fade is a non-issue and stopping power is simply amazing for such a heavy (near 2-ton) car. A stop from 60 mph can be done in a very short 106 feet.
Standard on the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 are ABS, traction control, stability control and front-seat side airbags. There is no spare tire, however, just a temporary tire inflation kit.
Although the specific 2010 GT500 model hadn't been crash tested as of this writing, the 2009 Mustang upon which it is based received perfect five-star ratings from the government for frontal crash protection and front passenger side protection. Rear-passenger side-impact protection garnered four stars for the coupe and five stars for the convertible. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Mustang convertible (the only model tested) received the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the frontal-offset test and the top rating of "Good" in the side-impact crash test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like the Mustang's interior, the GT500's cabin -- specifically the dash with its dual-cowl design -- was designed to mimic that of its 1960s forebears. Among the many interior improvements this year are more soft-touch materials (e.g., on the dash and doors), tighter build quality and the use of Alcantara (a convincing faux suede that's used in high-end luxury cars) on the seats and steering wheel. Aggressive side bolsters allow the comfortable buckets to properly hold occupants during aggressive cornering, while an old-school, cue-ball gearshift knob adds to the retro look and feel. Real aluminum trim graces the dash and steering wheel spokes and the Cobra logo is stitched into the seats, which can also be had with racing stripes.
Though this year's revamp brought new control layouts, a few tried-and-true setups, such as a simple twist knob on the dash for the headlights as well as spin knobs for volume and tuning, remain. The GT500 also has Ford's excellent Sync system this year -- it allows voice commands for your cell phone, the audio system and the (optional) navigation system.
The coupe's trunk provides 13.4 cubic feet of capacity and the rear seat splits and folds down, extending cargo capacity considerably. The ragtop offers 9.6 cubes but no folding rear seat.
With more power than any of the revered Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s, the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 offers performance that's nothing short of intoxicating. Just as its specs suggest, the GT500 lunges forward with exotic-carlike verve when you boot the throttle. Gearchanges are positive and crisp, and the overall driving experience can be either civilized or brutal, depending on your mood and how quickly you move your throttle foot.
Unlike last year's model that got upset on bumpy curves and felt nose-heavy and reluctant when attacking apexes, the 2010 Shelby GT500 displays composed, confident handling with crisp turn-in and a more balanced feel overall. On occasion, a sharp midcorner impact will remind you of the car's non-independent rear suspension via a bit of a kickback, but it's handled as a single, damped event, unlike before when it would send the car wallowing about. Overall, the latest GT500 does an admirable job of combining fairly agile cornering ability with a compliant ride.