DETROIT -- The menacing image of a king cobra poised to strike has been synonymous with Shelby Cobra Mustangs since 1965, but the badge for Ford's new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 -- at 760 horsepower, the most powerful street-legal Ford ever -- could equally easily be a winged pillow.
It's brutally quick -- 3.3 seconds 0-60 mph, 10.7 seconds in the standing quarter mile – but not remotely punishing, simultaneously the fastest and most comfortable GT500 ever.
Thank a brand new dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission and Magneride adaptive shocks, plus the undivided attention of Ford Performance chief engineer Carl Widmann's team virtually since the day the last killer Shelby, the Mustang GT350, hit the road in 2015.
The GT350's handling raised the stakes for the GT500. The new car answers with a straight flush: handling, straight-line speed, dramatic looks, ride comfort and a dynamite dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Prices for the 2020 Shelby GT500 start at $70,300. It should be in dealerships any day.
Howling on the outside, quiet on the inside
The magic starts with the engine, a supercharged 5.2L V-8 that can howl like a banshee but leaves the cabin quiet enough for conversation at normal levels. There's even a "good neighbor mode" you can program so as not to wake somebody sleeping next door.
Floor it and the engine races to its 7,500 rpm redline, pushing occupants back like a runaway, well, mustang.
The prospect of 625 pound-feet of torque on tap should be enough to scare anybody away from hard acceleration on public streets, but sticky Michelin performance tires and unobtrusive electronics keep the GT500 from being uncomfortably edgy.
The dual-clutch transmission holds gears for maximum acceleration and delivers satisfying downshifts under braking in sport mode. The Porsche 911's DCT was the benchmark as Ford developed the new gearbox. Sport mode delivers the quickest shifts, just 8 milliseconds -- quicker than a human can press the clutch in, let alone change gears, according to Ford engineers.