The 2015-'16 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R will be offered with MagneRide, an electrically operated, adaptive suspension system that lets the driver select the best ride and handling dynamics for the track, freeway — even pothole-filled neighborhood streets.
The cars were engineered to feel at home on the street or on the track, said Brent Clark, Ford's dynamics supervisor for performance vehicles.
"And the only way we could do that was to have an active dampening system like the MagneRide system," he said.
Mustang is joining an elite group that comprises the Audi TT, Range Rover Evoque, Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette Stingray, as well as the Ferrari California T, Cadillac Escalade and several other models that offer MagneRide.
During a press conference at the automaker's performance development facility on Tuesday, Dave Pericak, Ford's performance director, said the Shelby GT350 introduced in 1965 "was the catalyst that jump-started the pony-car performance wars of the 1960s.
"When we took on this project, we had the same mindset that they had back then, which was to develop the ultimate-handling Mustang, a Mustang capable of taking on the best sports cars around the world," he said.
Ford will build a small number of 2015 models to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang, Pericak said.
Ford will produce 100 Shelby GT350 and 37 Shelby GT350R models. Prices will be announced in the next several weeks, at which time Ford dealers will begin taking orders. The automaker is expected to produce about 5,000 models combined for the 2016 model year. All Ford dealers will be able to sell the car, he said.
Pericak said his team focused on chassis improvements such as lightweighting, braking and the suspension.
In place of shock absorbers that have valves and small moving parts, MagneRide has four cylinder-shaped dampers, one at each wheel. The dampers are filled with a fluid impregnated with iron particles. An electronic control unit monitors steering angle, vehicle speed, braking, vehicle angle and other factors. The unit sends an electric current through the fluid of each damper to provide near-instantaneous adjustment of the suspension, as frequently as every 7 milliseconds.
MagneRide is designed to keep the vehicle flat and stable over a wide range of driving conditions. It debuted in 2002 at Cadillac and about a year later as an option on the Corvette.
The third-generation MagneRide will be optional on the 2015 Shelby GT350 and standard on the Shelby GT350R. The Shelby GT350R will be the most expensive model, aimed at the serious racer who wants a lighter-weight car. The air-conditioning system and rear seat are removed, and the wheels are made of carbon fiber instead of aluminum.
The underside of each model has been engineered to reduce drag and increase downforce. Transmission, oil and differential coolers are standard.
Pericak said the cars "will have the best braking systems ever on a Mustang."
Two-piece, cross-drilled iron rotors with aluminum hats are used — the largest ever for a production Mustang. The 394-millimeter front rotors and 380-millimeter rear rotors are a floating type. The front rotors use six-piston fixed Brembo calipers with integrated caliper bridges at the front and four-piston units at the rear.
The Shelby GT350 is equipped with 19.0-inch cast-aluminum alloy wheels, 10.5 inches wide in the front and 11.0 inches in the rear. Michelin's Pilot Super Sport tires with GT350-specific sidewall construction, tread face and compound are standard.
The Shelby GT350R has 19.0-inch carbon-fiber wheels that are 11.0 inches wide in the front and 11.5 inches in the rear. Standard are Michelin's Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The carbon-fiber wheels eliminate about 50 pounds of unsprung weight compared to the wheels and tires on the Shelby GT350 model.
The hood line of both GT350s has been lowered about 1.5 inches compared with a base Mustang GT in order to create downforce for improved handling. In terms of exterior styling, everything from the A-pillar forward, including hood, front fenders, fascia and grille, is unique to the Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R and not shared with the base Mustang GT.
Edmunds says: The Shelby GT350's MagneRide will offer Mustang enthusiasts the ultimate in handling.