By Bengt Halvorson
If you thought you might have to wait some time before the storied Shelby name gets spliced back into the Mustang
narrative, think again. An all-new Mustang Shelby GT350, based on the all-new sixth-generation Mustang, is already here—ahead of its official public debut later this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. We were fortunate enough to be able to shoot live photos of the car
, shown in the gallery below, during the private pre-show unveiling this evening.
This time, the car has been developed by Ford Motor Company's [NYSE:F] own SVT performance division and not Shelby American, which
There will be something new
and special under the hood of this latest beast, and rest assured it's a V-8. The 2016 Shelby GT350 has what the automaker is calling its most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever. Ford won't say exactly where power and torque ratings land, but it confirms that the new top pony will make more than 500 horsepower and more than 400 pound-feet of torque.
Ford says that the new “unique, high-revving” 5.2-liter V-8 has a racing-derived arrangement that spaces crank pins at 180-degree intervals rather than 90-degree ones, which is typical in normal-production models—yes, we're talking a flat-plane crank here. That effectively reduces the overlap of exhaust-pressure pulses, improving breathing—albeit potentially with some sacrifice in smoothness.
That engine is said to make the most of the new Mustang's finessed chassis dynamics, and it comes paired with a six-speed manual gearbox.
MagneRide comes to Ford
As for those dynamics, this is Ford's first application of the MagneRide magnetorheological suspension system—one that's already used across a wide range of performance cars and well-respected. It can fine-tune damping at each wheel, in milliseconds, to filter out road harshness yet provide crisp responses when needed for abrupt maneuvers and in high-performance driving. The GT350 also includes a Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential, which should especially help gain better traction and grip out of corners.
The GT350 also includes special 19-inch alloy wheels—10.5 inches wide in front, 11.0 inches wide in back—with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and sidewall construction, tread face, and compound all specific to this model. Brakes have been upgraded with big Brembo six-piston fixed calipers and four-piston calipers in back.
Actually a different silhouette than other ‘Stangs
In order to offer up the most performance possible with all those technical upgrades, the GT350 has an aerodynamically optimized shape, ahead of the windshield, that's unique and up to two inches lower than that of the regular Mustang models. Ford lowered and sloped the hood a bit more versus the base Mustang, while the front fascia is resculpted, with a more aggressive front splitter and a functional hood outlet that aids with cooling as well in reducing front-end lift at high speeds. And they further improved the stiffness of the Mustang's front end with a new injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening and an (optional) front tower-to-tower brace.
Fender vents, an angled-forward grille, a high-pressure engine air intake, and front-brake cooling ducts are additional functional improvements that all factor into this model's performance. With the Track Pack, the GT350 also includes an engine oil cooler and transmission cooler.
Inside, there's a flat-bottom steering wheel, as well as an upgraded gauge cluster. And Ford claims to have spent hundreds of hours and many prototypes in developing the special Recaro sport seats, which have a unique cloth upholstery.
Multi-mode driver control system
The 2016 Shelby GT350 comes with a new driver control system with five modes that each offer their own calibration of the anti-lock braking system, stability control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide suspension tuning, and exhaust settings.
A Tech Pack will bring power leather-trimmed seats plus upgraded Shaker Audio, an eight-inch MyFord Touch screen, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Ford hasn't yet confirmed when the GT350 goes on sale, and there are still plenty of important things yet to be released—like performance numbers. So stay tuned for that, as well as all the rest live from the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.
To see video of the GT350 point your browser here.
This story originally appeared at