Papa 'Stang is back for 2012 with its snarling, supercharged 5.4L DOHC V-8 and tire-shredding 550 hp. Not that there was much wrong with the outgoing model, since the GT500 remains mostly unchanged.
Never content to rest on its laurels though, Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT) addressed a few driver concerns in the cockpit, including new optional Recaro seats with better support, now standard SYNC voice command system, and added lightweight sound-proofing insulation to filter out unwanted noise.
Never mind interior audio, however, as the GT500's real soundtrack comes from beneath the hood. The engine has a newly tuned intake and exhaust, but comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and enough torque, 510 lb-ft, to launch the space shuttle Endeavor.
The GT500 achieves 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, but if you're buying one, you probably don't care. Base price for the coupe begins at about $50,000, while the convertible starts closer to $55,000. While the GT500 occasionally lacks the ability to lay down all its power, it has no problem keeping up with exotics more than twice the price.
EPA Fuel Economy
Coupe and Convertible: 15mpg city/23 mpg highway (manual)
- The sound
The looks and stares from admiring onlookers
You Won't Like
Corvette Z06s and Nissan GT-Rs
Best exotic supercar, for the price.
Body style: Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door, coupe or convertible
Engines: 5.4L 550-hp/510-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8
Models: Shelby GT500, GT500 Equipment Group 820A (SVT Performance Package)
Aside from enhanced structural rigidity in the convertible, all 2012 upgrades are centered on the driver. Interior re-workings abound, with emphasis on a new optional leather-trimmed Recaro and SVT-designed bucket seat, which SVT claims the new Cobra-etched digs provide better lateral and lumbar support for when wringing out the Cobra's performance on a twisty mountain road, or for those long drives up the coast. Also new are a three-step selectable steering control, including Sport, Comfort and Standard modes requiring varying levels of steering effort. Ford's SYNC voice command comes standard, with AppLink control for smartphones, a universal garage door opener, and dual-illuminated vanity mirrors in the visor.
2012 exterior is unchanged from 2011, and that's a good thing. If you couldn't tell from the Cobra and Shelby ornaments or the dual, stainless steel exhaust tips, the functional hood scoop, lowered stance with premium-painted, forged aluminum 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, atop an aggressive Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 rubber, tell you the GT500 is an otherworldly beast.
2012 GT500's add Ford's new SYNC voice interface to the Shaker 500 audio system and retains the optional Clarion Navigation System and HD Radio, SiriusXM Traffic and Sirius XM Travel Link, as well as a digital jukebox with hard drive that can store up to 2400 songs.
Performance & Handling
For the price, the GT500's performance is unmatched. With a good launch, the coiled Cobra achieves 60 mph in a supercar-like 4.1 seconds and crosses the quarter-mile in just 12.35 seconds at 115.75 mph. The SVT Performance Package brings a 3.73 rear axle and choice suspension upgrades and the Brembo front rotors and calipers bring the brute to a full stop in 103 feet from 60 mph. Grip? Automotive.com's sister publication Motor Trend records a 1.01g average on the skidpad, yeah, it's "got grip."
2012 Shelby GT500 toes the line with the usual safety features like dual front and side-impact airbags, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, a tire inflation kit in lieu of a spare, and a keyless anti-theft system (SecuriLock). Featured bells and whistles include a selectable electronic power assist steering (EPAS), which, Ford claims, aids fuel economy over traditional belt-driven hydraulic steering systems, and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control.
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