Shelby Mustang

New Mustang GT500 takes muscle car fight to Challenger & Camaro

The Detroit motor show is shaping up to be more exciting than many were predicting, with this new Shelby GT500 the latest car to be revealed ahead of its world debut at Motor City in a couple of weeks.

The updated hot Mustang is a timely boost to Ford and the American car industry, as sales slide and 'the big three' of Ford, GM and Chrysler struggle to cope with the economic downturn affecting the car industry. It's probably fitting that one of the Blue Oval's claims for the new car is improved fuel efficiency, words never previously used to flog a performance car such as this.

Don't fear though, because the performance has had a nice shove in the right direction, too: the supercharged 5.4-litre V8's power and torque are up from 493bhp and 480lb ft to 533bhp and 510lb ft, making the GT500 the most powerful factory-produced Mustang ever. It's also the heaviest, however, with a cast iron engine block still in residence.

There has been some dynamic tweaks to try and combat the mass and sharpen up the Shelby's handling, though. There's a limited-slip diff with a 3.55:1 final drive ratio while suspension has been stiffened 17 per cent at the front and seven per cent at the rear. The 19in alloys get Goodyear F1 Supercar tyres while the GT500 also gets the improved stability control system from the new Mustang, which features a sport mode that allows a bit of sliding before making itself known. It can be fully turned off should you wish, too. The improved fuel economy comes courtesy of tweaked ratios on the Tremec six-speed manual gearbox.

Exterior changes echo those seen on the new Ford Mustang, with some nice additions for the Shelby GT500. There's a duck-tail spoiler, four exhaust pipes, a big rear diffuser (not functional...) and a shouty air dam on the bonnet (...which does actually function) to tell the hottest 'Stang apart from the stock car. Inside there are stripes on the seats and gearbox to remind you of the indiscreet colour scheme while there's swathes of alcantara.

Further details and exact performance figures should be revealed when the car gets its Detroit unveil, although don't expect prices in pounds: like the outgoing GT500, there won't be any officially coming here. Hunt around the specialist importers, though, and you should be able to get one for around £40,000. Try finding more power for that sort of money elsewhere...

Read about our long-term, previous generation Ford Mustang or first drives of the GT500's two biggest foes: the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

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