Hot Car: 2011 Shelby GT500; Less weight + More power = More fun!

We’ve had some talk about the 2011 Mustang, both in V6 and GT trims.  Ford has finally released information and videos of its 2011 Shelby GT500, the most powerful factory Mustang ever built, in both Coupe and Convertible trim.  Follow the jump for high-resolution images, videos, and my take on what this new model means to fans of the iconic pony car.

The big news is the aluminum engine.  The use of aluminum instead of iron makes for a much lighter front end, which leads to better handling.  With only 10 extra horsepower, you’d expect the performance numbers to stay close to what the 2010 GT500 was capable of, but not so.  The new aluminum engine is 102 pounds lighter than its predecessor, which should make a big difference.  It also uses a Ford first: a special coating on the inside of the engine that increases durability by lowering the amount of heat and friction.

Due to the decreased weight and more fuel-efficient engine design, the 2011 GT500 nets fuel economy numbers of 15/23 city/highway, compared to 2010’s 14/22 city/highway.  While it’s not a great increase, it keeps the Shelby’s price down, since consumers won’t have to pay the gas guzzler tax that’s been tacked onto the MSRP for years.

The Shelby GT500 benefits from all the Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) work that Ford’s engineers did for the regular Mustang for 2011, so the new car will let in far less road noise – 20% to be exact.  Also, the electronic power steering system Ford has put into the new Mustang is also carried over, which is tuned in the GT500 to be variable, so slow-speed maneuvers are easier, while faster speed (read: track time) steering effort will be increased, which will make the new car easier to drive at speed.

Not to be left out, the convertible model of the GT500 has also seen some more strengthening to its underpinnings, leading to a convertible that acts more like its sibling, the coupe.

So, what are we left with?  For sure, a faster, better handling pony car.  Finally, the power and performance figures should be closer to what Chevrolet Corvette owners are used to, although the Mustang probably won’t ever be quite that fast.  The Corvette just has the weight issue already taken care of, and is a much lower-slung car.  Instead of always being compared to the Camaro, the Corvette’s little brother, the Mustang now lies somewhere between the two Chevy muscle cars, and may give GM the extra push to release its Z28, which would be the most powerful Camaro in its lineup, above the already potent SS model.

Videos:

Coupe:

Convertible:

Gallery:

by John Suit

Source: Ford

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