The 2012 Ford Shelby GT500: Ride The Snake
by Patrick Rall
While the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 wont get a jump in horsepower to keep up with the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the newest Mustang Cobra will feature one new feature to improve performance, along with a handful of convenience items to help add more luxury to the high performance pony car.
First of all, the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 will come equipped with the same supercharged 5.4L V8 as the 2011 models - packing 550 horsepower and 510lb-ft of torque while also yielding 15mpg around town and 23mpg on the open road - whether it is a hardtop coupe or drop top convertible. All 2012 Shelby GT500 models feature a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission sending the power to the rear wheels and a huge set of 19" performance tires wrapped around SVT-specific aluminum wheels.
New for 2012, the Ford Shelby GT500 is a new Selectable Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system with three driver-controlled modes: Sport, Comfort and Standard. The Sport mode is intended for bouts of high performance driving, with the EPAS system allowing more of the feel of the road to transfer through to the steering wheel for a more engaging and positive response for the driver. Also, when in Sport mode, the EPAS system requires more driver input force during turning - continuing the positive feel under hard cornering.
The Comfort mode is intended for use when cruising on the highway when hard cornering and vehicle feedback is less important. The EPAS system in Comfort mode adds more electronic support so less driver input is needed to turn the steering wheel. And to provide a friendlier ride, the system also lessens the amount of road noise that transfers up through the steering column to the driver.
Finally, the Standard mode for the new Selectable EPAS system is the default setting - providing an "average" ride with the road noise and driver input levels set to a comfortable norm for combinations of cruising and spirited driving. This new selectable EPAS system also works in conjunction with Ford's AdvanceTrac stability control system, automatically shifting the EPAS system into the sport mode when the AdvanceTrac system is also turned to sport - or when it is turned off altogether.
Next, SVT added a new set of Recaro leather-wrapped race seats originally offered on the 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. These seats include race-inspired bolsters to keep the driver and passenger firmly in place when hammering the turns but they also provide a classy, comfortable look and feel for every day driving.
Finally for 2012, the new Ford Shelby GT500 comes with illuminated vanity mirrors in both the driver and passenger side sun visors coupled with a multipurpose sun visor storage system. And for those who have an electronic garage door opener - your days of carrying around the remote are numbered, as Ford has added a universal garage door opener system.
Like all 2012 Ford Mustangs, the new Shelby GT500 will be built at the AutoAlliance plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. The GT500 coupe starts with a price of $48,810 (tack on an additional $5,000 for the drop top version).
So, is this the best Shelby GT500 yet? If so, why? If not, what is? Voice your opinion here!