What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Ford Shelby GT500 receives an astonishing increase to 662 horsepower. Wait, did you get that? Six-hundred and sixty-two! With a new top speed in excess of 200 mph, the GT500 also receives plenty of exterior, interior and mechanical upgrades to keep it on the road.
"A sense of power is the most intoxicating stimulant a mortal can enjoy." -- Ellen Swallow Richards
Truer words (albeit penned a century ago) will likely not be found to describe the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. We were already smitten with the 2012 model and its raucous 550-hp engine, but Ford has us downright obsessed with its new 662-hp power plant. That figure vaults this mega Mustang well into supercar territory, taking the prize for the most powerful production V8. Ever.
Power without control, however, is merely wasted excess. With this in mind, the 2013 Shelby GT500 has also been endowed with additional equipment intended to keep it from ending up upside-down and in flames. A new front splitter improves high-speed stability, and with a top speed in excess of 200 mph, keeping the tires in contact with the road is most certainly a priority.
Other additions include standard launch control, Brembo brakes, a carbon-fiber driveshaft, quad exhaust pipes and Mustang Track Apps (showing acceleration, braking and g-force performance) in a new display in the gauge cluster. The optional SVT Performance package piles on more upgrades, including a race-tuned suspension and cockpit-adjustable dampers.
Taking into account all of these performance-enhancing features, it becomes a little easier to justify the GT500's $25,000 premium over the already competent Mustang GT. To the Shelby GT500's detriment, though, its interior is too similar to the base Mustang and a far cry from expectations of a $55,000 car.
Then again, if you're wrestling with 662 hp, interior quality is probably the last thing on your mind. Considering this torrent of power and a price tag that is a fraction of what you would expect from similarly exotic, powerful cars, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 represents a relative bargain (at least, that's a line you can use on your significant other). It out-muscles the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and 2012 Corvette ZR1 and dominates the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8. Furthermore, the Shelby has the potential to battle with the hyper-exotics from Italy and Germany (at least in a straight line). If you're fortunate to enjoy one of these limited-edition stimulants, just remember that you are indeed, mortal.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 is a four-seat high-performance coupe or convertible based on the Mustang.
Standard features include 19-inch alloy front wheels (20-inch rear wheels), high-performance tires, Brembo brakes, a rear spoiler, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, Mustang Track Apps, a leather/faux-suede-wrapped steering wheel, leather/faux-suede-upholstered sport bucket seats with racing stripes and Cobra logos, a power driver seat, Ford's Sync multimedia voice control system and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary/USB audio jacks and satellite radio.
The GT500 convertible adds a power-operated soft top. Both the GT500 coupe and convertible have side stripes on the rocker panels and hood stripes that run from nose to tail (but not over the convertible top). Ford offers a stripe-delete option for buyers who prefer a less ostentatious look.
Options include a glass roof for the coupe, leather Recaro front seats, heated front seats (but not for the Recaros), an upgraded nine-speaker sound system, an Electronics package (hard-drive-based navigation system, HD radio and dual-zone climate control), the SVT Performance package (unique wheels, a Torsen 3.31 limited-slip differential, cockpit-adjustable Bilstein dampers, stiffer rear springs and a unique shift knob) and the SVT Track Pack (additional coolers for the engine oil, transmission and differential).
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 is a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 that generates an awe-inspiring 662 hp and 631 pound-feet of torque. Just as impressive as the peak output is the fact that 395 lb-ft of that torque is available just off idle. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available.
Despite the lofty power output and performance figures, the EPA estimates fuel economy at a fairly reasonable 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 18 mpg in combined driving.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control and front-seat side airbags. Ford's MyKey system (which allows you to limit the car's top speed and stereo volume) is also standard. A temporary tire-inflation kit replaces the spare tire.
In government crash tests, the Ford Mustang coupe on which the GT500 is based received an overall safety score of four stars (out of a possible five). Within that rating, it earned four overall stars for frontal-impact safety and four stars overall for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Mustang coupe its top score of "Good" in frontal-offset crash protection and a second-best score of "Acceptable" for side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Except for some suede trim, Cobra badges and a cue-ball shift knob, the GT500 interior isn't much different from that of a well-appointed Mustang GT. The abundance of hard plastics and similarities to lesser-trim Mustangs in a $55,000 car is slightly disappointing. Gauges are slightly more legible than the hieroglyphics found in the standard Mustang, but both place the optional multifunction display too low in the center stack. Climate and audio controls are also small and hard to read at a quick glance; thankfully, the Sync voice-activated control interface nearly eliminates the need to bother. Outward visibility is best-in-class thanks to thin A-pillars and flip-down rear headrests.
Interior storage is notably scarce, with a shallow center armrest bin and a small glovebox and door pockets. The coupe's trunk can hold a generous 13.4 cubic feet of cargo, and split-folding rear seats allow you to load larger objects. The convertible lacks the folding seats and can only hold a maximum of 9.6 cubes. It's important to note, however, that these capacities do not take into account the optional massive Shaker subwoofer that essentially squanders one corner of the trunk.
Front seats are generally comfortable, although taller drivers may bemoan the lack of a telescoping steering column. Nearly any rear seat passenger, regardless of size, will find scarce legroom among their chief concerns.
Fire up the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 and you're treated to one of the meanest-sounding engines ever built. At idle, the low, rhythmic rumble disguises the potential for tire-smoking mayhem. Lay into the throttle and the rumbling becomes a raging torrent as the GT500 catapults forward, all the while accompanied by the supercharger's addictive whine.
In the corners, the GT500 is easily upset by careless inputs. Maximizing thrills in the curves requires a high level of restraint and a healthy dose of courage. There's plenty of grip, but the Shelby's heavy curb weight seem poised to break the car loose at all times. The ride is stiff, but not too harsh.