There were a few random vehicles traversing the deserted road, but for the most part, the passing vehicles were candy-colored 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500s.
We’d stopped along the side of the road to take pictures of the Grabber Lime vehicle we were currently driving when a man dressed in leathers riding a Harley-Davidson pulled off next to us.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
He’d been driving down the mountain, passing the brightly painted GT500s one after another.
After we explained that we were journalists doing tests for upcoming stories, he asked: “So this isn’t out yet?”
Nope, but it will be soon.
He then handed me his phone and asked if I’d take his photo with it.
Considering the fact Mustang is the No. 1 most-photographed vehicle on Instagram with more than 12 million posts and it’s the No. 1 most-liked car on Facebook, I wasn’t surprised by the request and gladly took the photo.
Judging by the conversations I had with colleagues at dinner, this wasn’t a singular happenstance. Cops and passersby all stopped by various cars and asked questions and took photos.
With such an obvious and bright vehicle, it was certainly a day I didn’t want to get caught speeding.
Which led me to discover it’s downright difficult to keep the GT500 paced at 35 mph.
Equipped with a 5.2-liter V-8 engine that delivers 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque, the GT500 is more comfortable going 100 mph than a sedate 35.
It also boasts a 0-to-60-mph time of 3.3 seconds and quarter-mile sprint in 10.7 seconds. It can also go from 0 to 100 mph back to 0 in 10.6 seconds.
What helps this vehicle achieve these impressive numbers? Larger Brembo calipers, 16.53-inch front rotors and 25 percent more thermal energy absorption, new electric power steering, active magneride shock tuning and a unique suspension geometry.
Luckily, we had time on the track to put the GT500 through its paces, so I didn’t feel slighted by the slow street drive.
The 2020 GT500 is the most powerful street-legal Mustang ever produced by Ford Motor Co., so you might expect it to be a bit of a brute to drive on regular roads. But other than chomping at the bit to speed, the GT500 was both composed and quiet at cruising speeds.
Of course, there was plenty of sport and growl when you wanted it. We played around with the various drive modes as well as the sport exhaust, both of which provided some audible ear candy and belly-flipping fun in the right circumstances.
From the highway and winding mountain roads to the drag strip and racetrack, the GT500 proved to be a multi-faceted car.
The GT500 comes with options such as a back-seat delete and performance features that include line lock, lap timer, accelerometer and launch control, which means it is meant to be driven hard. But Ford doesn’t want this to be a some-time vehicle, and GT500 includes plenty of convenience amenities – such as Sync3, a premium B&O sound system, blind-spot monitoring and navigation – to make it a viable daily driver.
During the day-long drive, I found the available Recaro seats to be comfortable and supportive. However, considering my petite stature and far-forward driving position, I was a bit too close to the steering wheel, and I could barely squeeze in and out of the driver’s seat without moving the seat back.
In terms of handling, I found the GT500 to be smooth and responsive on curves and corners, and as I discovered on the drag strip, off-the-line acceleration is gleefully immediate.
My one disappointment for daily driving is the lack of a manual transmission. The GT500 is only equipped with a Tremec 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The transmission gets bonus points for shifts that can be completed in as fast as 80 milliseconds. But as my driving partner and I noticed, there is a small hitch with the DCT when you’re already at cruising speeds.
Say you’re cruising at 55 mph and the transmission is in 7th gear. If you need to do a hard acceleration to pass, the DCT doesn’t downshift from 7th to 3rd directly, it makes a brief pass through 6th gear, which causes a slight hesitation before the vehicle pulses forward.
By contrast, both a traditional automatic and manual transmission can make that jump directly.
This isn’t necessarily a problem – the GT500 still flies – but it is noticeable.
The base price of the GT500 is $72,900 including a $2,600 gas-guzzler tax. This is without the $1,095 destination fee.
In addition to various individual options there are three primary packages available on the 2020 GT500:
- Carbon Fiber Track Package ($18,500): oil catch pan, 20-inch exposed carbon fiber wheels, Michelin Cup 2 tires, adjustable exposed carbon fiber track wing, splitter wickers with integrated diveplane, rear seat deleted.
- Technology Package ($3,000): navigation, 12-speaker B&O premium audio, blind-spot monitoring, Shelby Cobra puddle lamps, driver setting memory.
- Handling Package ($1,500): oil catch can, gurney flap, splitter wickers with integrated diveplane, adjustable top mounts.
If you wanted to fully trick out a GT500, you’ll probably end up paying between $95K to $100K.
The bottom line:
Ford Motor Co. has done a great job taking an iconic vehicle and adding an extra dose of special.
It’s a blast to drive in pretty much any situation and makes a good daily driver with cushy seats and varying driving modes.
The all-new 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is smooth, fast, grippy, quiet, rough and comfortable in all the right places.