2012 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe 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.