After a year-long tease, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 was finally revealed at the 2019 Detroit auto show. The top-trim Ford pony car certainly looks the part of a 700-plus-hp brute, but is its design different enough from the Shelby models that slot below it? Let’s examine.
Like the GT350 and GT350R, the GT500 sticks with the pre-refresh headlights. But besides the shared lamps, the front end is completely different on the GT500. The upper and lower mesh grilles are bisected by a black bumper piece, which makes it look like the car has one big, gaping hexagonal grille. Meanwhile, the fenders are significantly wider and are made of composite materials to reduce weight. The hood is also composite, and features a massive power bulge and heat extractor vents to accommodate the 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger. The front splitter, dive planes, and vents in the lower front valance are all unique to the GT500.
Looking at the profile view, the shapelier hood is even more apparent. The ground effects look slightly different, but one could be forgiven for mistaking a GT500 for a lesser GT350R from the side. The biggest giveaway from this angle is the adjustable carbon-fiber rear wing, which mounts to the trunk via two stanchions. If you choose the Carbon Fiber Track and Handling packages, that wing also gets a Gurney flap. It’s difficult to tell, but the carbon-fiber wheels on the GT500 are bigger than the GT350R’s. They’re 20-inchers rather than 19s and are half an inch wider.
In back, you’ll find a unique lower rear valance and massive 5-inch-diameter quad exhaust tips. Though the front fenders were widened, Ford says the rear wheel arches remain unchanged from the GT350. Again, the wing will be an easy way to distinguish the GT500 from the GT350 and GT350R.
Inside, the GT500 gets a digital instrument cluster like the one available in other post-refresh Mustangs, but some graphics appear to be unique. The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is similar in design to the GT350’s, but the buttons have been rearranged. One especially cool touch is the cobra button on the right side of the wheel. Both can be had with Recaro front seats (they’re standard on the GT350 but bundled with the Carbon Fiber Track package on the GT500), but the buckets in the range-topping Shelby are trimmed with leather and feature an embroidered cobra emblem. Just like the GT350R, the GT500 comes standard with a rear seat delete, though a rear bench is believed to be a future option. One big difference can be found in the center console. While the GT350 and GT350R is offered exclusively with a six-speed manual, the only transmission option on the GT500 will be a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. That gearbox will probably shift faster than any human could with a stick, but somehow the rotary gear selector doesn’t match the rest of the car’s brutishly sporty vibe.
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