2012 Ford Shelby GT500 2dr Coupe (5.4L 8cyl S/C 6M)
I have had eighteen Mustangs (old and new) over the years, including GTs, Mach 1s, a Cobra and a Boss 302, and this one is simply in a different league. First impression when driven off the dealer's lot: Drives just like a normal car. No bone-jarring ride, easy to shift, easy to steer, very comfortable and refined. Then the differences start to appear. The ride is supple over rough pavement, but it sticks like glue around corners and you will experience renal failure before the car loses grip. The shifter's throws are short, a little notchy, but you get used to it quickly. The clutch and electric power steering are light but precise. You feel low and heavy - and fast. And the car can dance.
It's a triple-threat: The GT500 accelerates, brakes and corners at your whim. No other Mustang seems to have mastered all three like this. The car is rock-solid, assembled with care and obvious attention to detail. Doors close with a reassuring thunk. Despite the hood bulge up front and the spoiler in the rear-view mirror, sightlines are good. The optional glass roof is a neat/novel feature that my kids love at night. A cueball shifter feels odd in a modern car, but... ok, we'll go with it. Ice blue interior lighting is interesting. Then there's that engine: There's nothing else like it. It has the rumble and thrust of a rocket coupled to the metallic whine of a jet engine.
Interior trim is a letdown at this price point. Everything is well-assembled, but the hard plastics on the doors, center dash and console seem out of place on such a nice car. The steering wheel trim and fingertip controls are not up to the quality level of the rest of the car, and the charcoal-colored inserts on the steering wheel and console are gloomy. The gages are uninspired (at least the '05-'09 gages were fun to look at). Only the white stripes on the leather seats cheer things up during the day. Why can't Ford make Mustangs with fun interiors? Sound system is poor; muted and muffled. Floor mats are cheap and don't stay put. But these are small things on an otherwise exceptional car.
Great input, I like all descriptions you have made.
I own a 2011 GT, I am very happy with it, however I regret I did not buy a GT500 to begin with, now I want to trade in, but I guess I will wait for the 2013 GT600 or maybe I will go for a Challenger SRT8 392.
I am test driving a SRT8 392 tomorrow, though I really like Mustangs, I am afraid that Mustang is loosing on it's interior quality, but I still gotta make a decision, as I have never driven a Dodge Challenger before.
Will pos on Thursday to give my opinion about the differences.
I agree with your review as well.
I just bought my 2012 GT500 and have been absolutely amazed by the performance!
This is my 4th mustang and by far the best.
The engine, exterior, handling/steering are far superior to mustangs of old.
I would like to offer a counter-opinion to your comments on the interior though.
Every mustang I've owned has used unimpressive materials and styling in the interior, it's almost like the interior was an afterthought!
The seats were really comfortable (except for my 1980 LX) but everything else just didn't fit the rest of the car.
But that's not why I owned them, I bought my mustangs for the style and performance of the vehicles, not to be awed by the dash lights or interior features. As long as I had a comfortable seat, cup holder and standard transmission, I was happy (thus the reason for my hatred of the 1980 LX).
If you're looking for a hot-looking car that is built around an amazing engine with attention-grabbing exhaust and is an absolute joy to drive, this is the one for you.
If you want the glossy interior with wood trim and other luxury features and materials, that's not what this car is about and there's plenty of alternatives out there to appease you.