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Edmunds U-Drags: Shelby GT500 Overpowers BMW M4

Edmunds U-Drags: Shelby GT500 Overpowers BMW M4

Launch control, smaunch control

  • The Shelby GT500 and BMW M4 Competition battled fiercely on the Edmunds' U-Drags race course.
  • These super-coupes ran like thoroughbreds and horsepower ultimately proved the difference-maker.
  • A good start for the M4 turned into bad news once the GT500 found its legs.

A classic battle with a new twist — that's how one might view the recent showdown between our long-term Shelby Mustang GT500 and the 2022 BMW M4 Competition.

These powerful front-engine coupes competed on the unique Edmunds U-Drags race course. The GT500 and M4 faced off head-to-head, then switched drivers in the name of fairness, to see which could best handle this test of acceleration, braking and handling. Wait until you hear the noises they made.

What is Edmunds U-Drags?

U-Drags is a head-to-head competition created by the Edmunds test team to capture more data than a traditional drag race. From a standing start, two cars race straight through the quarter mile, then brake hard and swoop around a cone to return down that same straightaway. The finish is located at the original starting line. Each pairing races twice, changing drivers and changing lanes the second time around for more robust results.

The diagram below shows the track layout. Then we'll move on to the action.

The result

Race 1 started with a bang — from the M4, that is. The superior launch control system in the BMW propelled it to an incredible start, while the GT500 struggled to gain traction off the line. The M4 reached the quarter-mile first, but the GT500's monstrous power allowed it to catch up, nearly pulling even into the turn. That was close enough for the GT500 to harness its V8 muscle and hammer down the back straightaway, pulling away from the M4 at the finish.

In Race 2 it was more of the same: The M4 started out hot, but the GT500 slowly reeled it in and crossed the finish line a half-beat ahead of the BMW.

It was a close yet decisive win for the GT500 in two straight races. That surprised the Edmunds test team, particularly because the M4 previously smoked the GT500 in a traditional drag race. So how did the Shelby emerge victorious this time around?

2022 Ford Shelby GT500

2022 Ford Shelby GT500

The details

The key is in the home stretch after the turn. The GT500 had a lot of ground to make up, because in both races the M4 jumped out to an immediate lead due to its awesome launch ability. In fact, in both Race 1 and Race 2, the M4 reached 60 mph in a blistering 3.4 seconds while it took the GT500 4.7 seconds and 4.4 seconds, respectively.

But the GT500 chased the M4 down after that, blasting through the quarter-mile and entering the turn hot on the M4's heels. Impressive braking and handling around the cone allowed the Ford to get into its formidable power quickly on the back straight, where it rocketed toward the start/finish line and didn't look back. In both races, the GT500 crossed the line at a thundering 143.2 mph. The fastest finishing speed for the M4 was 134 mph.

That may sound like a blowout victory. But at these speeds, the margins are razor-thin. Despite being significantly faster across the line, the GT500 won Race 1 by 0.3 second. It won Race 2 by 0.1 second despite posting a final time of 30.9 seconds — the best we've seen at U-Drags so far.

Shelby GT500 and BMW M4 Competition

Shelby GT500 and BMW M4 Competition

Edmunds says

The BMW M4 Competition is a serious performance machine with stunning acceleration off the line, and its best finishing time would have set a new record for the Edmunds U-Drags course. Unfortunately for BMW, the Shelby GT500 proved itself the current king of the format. It braked and handled just well enough for its power to make the difference in a roaring, raucous victory.