Quick Spin: 2017 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang

It’s fucking amazing. That is all you need to know about the GT350R. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but it is amazing. It looks purposeful but not tacky. It’s really fast and it’s properly loud. It stops well and handles wonderfully. It’s cliche to say, but it is a race car for the streets and it makes no secrets about it. 
But anyone with even the slightest interest in cars already knows that. Because it’s so amazing but imperfect, let’s take a closer look at those imperfections. And then let’s look at what makes it so amazing. 

The suspension is stiff. The ride is rough. The clutch pedal is heavy. The seats are tight. It’s annoyingly loud at times. The brakes are squeaky. It seats only two. It has no fog-lights. It’s so low that it will scrape on anything bigger than a canine turd, and it sucks in traffic. Even on interstates, the GT350R directly transcribes the road surface and all of its imperfections into the steering wheel, frequently pulling the vehicle into the highway groves. If you choose the yellow paint with black stripes everyone will be looking at you. Waaahhhh!!! 
That is a lot of issues but there is just one simple solution – don’t buy the Mustang GT350R. If want a more comfortable ride, softer clutch, heated leather seats, and a quieter ride, buy the Mustang EcoBoost. I reviewed one for TTAC and it’s a great car. If you have no desire to ever bring the GT350R to road race track or even a drag strip, this vehicle will be wasted on you. Cars & Coffee, cruising down Main Street, enthusiasts meets, random burn-outs – they are all fun but you don’t need a GT350R for that. 

Do you like modding? Do you see this car and say to yourself “it needs more power, yo, I’d bolt on a supercharger and go Hellcat hunting” this may not be the vehicle for you. Air suspension so you can make the ass drop and thirty degrees of negative camber – go away. Bling wheels? Dude, it has CARBONFUCKINGFIBER wheels! The only modification one should do to the GT350R is the addition of a roll bar or a roll cage. Ford even prepped that for you by replacing the rear seats with a piece of molded carpet. Don’t even upgrade the most obvious thing – tires. The damn thing comes with Michelin Cup rubber!

But if you want an amazing track machine that you can drive to and from said track, the GT350R is the vehicle for you. Just look at these specs:

  • Engine: 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated, DOHC 90-degree V8 with port fuel injection. 526 horsepower @ 7500rpm and 429 lb.-ft. of torque at 4750 rpm. 12:1 compression ration. Forged pistons and connecting rods. 
  • Suspension: Aluminum front knuckles, hub, and bearing assemblies. Rigid bushings in control arms and sub-frames. Continuously variable MagneRide dampers.
  • Wheels: Carbon fiber, 19- x 11.0-in. front, 19- x 11.5-in. rear. Approximate weight is 18 pounds versus 33 pounds for alloy wheels. 
  • Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, 180 AA A – 305/30ZR19 front, 315/30ZR19 rear.
  • Brakes: Two-piece cross-drilled iron rotors with aluminum hats, 394-millimeter front rotors and 380-millimeter rear rotors, six-piston fixed Brembo calipers in the front and four-piston units at the rear, front and rear brake ducts. Squeaky high temp brake pads. 
  • Weight reduction: No air conditioning, audio system, rear seats, trunk floorboard and carpet, backup camera and emergency tire sealer and inflator, and exhaust resonators. Much of this is optional. Oddly, the hood is steel. 
  • Aerodynamics: Hood vent for heat extraction and lift reduction, underbody belly pans front and rear, front diffuser, vented wheel wells and turbulence-reducing fender vents, wheel air curtains and side skirts, carbon fiber rear wing. 
  • Others: Torsen limited-slip differential with rear-mounted air-to-oil differential cooler. Line locks. Launch control. Timers. Auxiliary gauges. 

If you didn’t shiver reading the above specs then you would shiver when that engine starts up. Driving this car is an experience that is difficult to describe in writing. It’s raw, it’s mechanical, and yet it’s also organic. Power delivery is instantaneous at any engine speed. The shifter is direct and quick. All gears are easy to find, and easy to shift into quickly. The steering is also quick and perfectly weighted for the task at hand.  

Is this the best Mustang ever? I would say so. But it is not a vehicle for most people and certainly not for all occasions. It really is a race car for the streets. If you are fine with its annoyances and particularities, than you can’t go wrong with it. Despite the fact that the Mustang lineup is getting an update for 2018, the GT350 and the GT350R will remain unchanged. That’s because they are fucking amazing and don’t need a change. 

[Disclaimer: Ford Motor Corporation provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2017]

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8 responses to “Quick Spin: 2017 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang”

  1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    Make mine Grabber Blue please.*
    *assuming you’ll take a post-dated check.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      BTW: Disclaimer: Ford Motor Corporation provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review.
      Ford Motor Company is the preferred designation.

      1. Kamil K Avatar

        This came directly off their official thingy. :shrug:

  2. fede Avatar

    does the R gain/lose much in the track/daily use compared to the non R?

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      I dunno. I don’t think I ever even saw a GT350. It’s a bit heavier and lacks the aero bits and CF wheels, but the same otherwise. If they have the same tires, I think you’d need to be a pro driver to really see the differences between the two on the track.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    My 2 y.o. daughter is obsessed with Mustangs. I take that as a sign that I need another Mustang in my life.
    Now to search Copart for a wrecked GT350R…

  4. JayP Avatar

    The GT350s even uses a TREMEC 3160, not that POS MT82.
    I instructed a student in a regular GT350 and got to drive a few sessions.
    If the GT350 isn’t a supercar, it’s damn close.

  5. casho2015 Avatar

    Sell them overseas please!