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by Tony S.


Ford Shelby Mustang GT-h

Click on any image to enlarge

Introduction

A very nervous editor arrived at my residence with the Shelby Mustang on a sunny Friday afternoon. This car looks like the business....solid black with gold stripes, low stance, bulges and air scoops, retro-style rims, hood-pins, all of the right hotrod styling cues in place. I could feel my posture changing as my knuckles began to drag the ground. My right foot took on a decidedly “leaden” feeling and began twitching. For a brief moment, I could only communicate in grunts. For some reason, my long-time friend and aforementioned editor said that he needed to go along on the test ride….something about having to take photos (he later admitted that the car was rented under his insurance policy).

We took the car out for around two-hours, driving a mix of highway, surface streets, and winding back roads. I couldn’t have ordered a better day for a test drive with sunny skies and eighty degree temperatures. Keep in mind while reading this review that I never exceeded about 7/10th’s while driving the car. This review is geared towards how most people will use the car and doesn’t reflect how the car will perform at its handling limits.

Pros and Cons

  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Styling
  • V-8 Power
  • Exhaust Note
  • Ride Quality
  • Climate Control
  • Not Available for Purchase
center console

Build

This car comes equipped with a 4.6 liter V-8 modified in the best tradition of tuners everywhere and makes an additional 25 horsepower over the standard Mustang GT motor. The resulting 325 H.P. flows through a smooth-shifting five-speed automatic and is put to the ground via a 3.55:1 ratio limited slip differential. When you look under the hood, you see a very cool, exposed air-cleaner and a strut brace crossing the engine bay. Gray, five-spoke retro style rims encased in Pirelli P-Zero rubber complete the picture. Can I get some grunts please?

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

If you can ignore the fact that everything in the interior is plastic, Ford has done a good job putting the inside of this car together. It just looks right….black, black, and more black, with plenty of chrome and aluminum thrown in. The seats are fully adjustable and felt comfortable enough for all-day duty. The instrument cluster and vents are surrounded by chrome (plastic) bezels. Said instrument cluster is clearly visible behind an attractive three-spoke steering wheel and easy to read. There is a strong sense of purpose in the interior and nothing seems out of place. While there have been some complaints of fit and finish in Mustangs, I noticed no problems with this car.

The air conditioner struggled to keep the car cool even though the temperature never exceeded around eighty degrees. As far as the vents are concerned, I think Ford hooks them directly to the exhaust. I don’t want to imagine what this car might be like in truly hot weather.

Performance

Now for the good stuff. Hammer the throttle, and the car pushes you back into the seat. My butt-meter says 0-60 MPH at the low five second mark and the quarter-mile in the high thirteen’s. Stoplight drags are a blast with the rear tires slipping just enough to provide a very aggressive launch before the limited slip applies all of the power to the ground. Look into the rear-view mirror and you are treated to the sight of two strips of rubber marking the area you just left. Very impressive for any car, much less a rental. The exhaust note is music to the ear. Radio. What radio? I never turned the thing on. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, even under hard acceleration. Not the optimum for high-performance, but suitable for daily-driving and vehicle longevity. This car would benefit from an extra gear, as it sometimes bogged down while searching for a better gear in tight, low-speed turns. Passing power is addictive and readily available at all speeds. I found myself looking for any opening in freeway traffic just so that I could wind her up and listen to that V-8 at work. A couple of 60-0 stops revealed adequate braking power. The car tracks straight while braking on smooth roads, but became slightly unsettled when the road became rough.

Handling

In search of better handling, Ford significantly stiffened the suspension of this car. The result is a car that tracks straight and stays flat during cornering. The suspension feels neutral and settled in faster sweeping turns. While I am definitely in favor of improved handling, I believe they missed the mark on this one. Ride quality suffers and is overly stiff. The suspension makes clunking noises and there is some tire rub on bumpy roads. There is very pronounced understeer and vague steering feel in tight, low-speed turns. In these conditions it was difficult to tell what the front of the car was doing. This may be due to the fact that the Mustang is still working with a live-axle set-up in order to keep production costs down. Or, the Ford Engineers might have built in understeer as a safety margin to compensate for less experienced drivers. Regardless, many car manufacturers obtain great handling performance while maintaining much better ride quality.

Styling

faux side air scoopWhat can I say? The styling of this car is spot on perfect. From the black paint with gold racing stripes to the retro rims, they have created a look that captures the spirit and heritage of this long-running model. The hood exhibits the appropriate bulge, shouting out that there is a serious motor lurking underneath. The faux scoops positioned in front of the rear tire pay tribute to the Mustangs of old. It has that perfect muscle-car stance. I know that styling is a subjective category, but this car will appeal to any “gear-head” and many who aren’t!

Value / Who Should Rent It?

Who should rent this car? If you are interested enough in the rental-racer concept to read this review, you should rent this car! Hertz has provided the opportunity for almost anyone to experience an American icon and world class muscle car. If you’ve never experienced a high-horsepower automobile, think of it as bungee-jumping. You might never do it again, but what an experience.

Although not mentioned earlier in this review, close examination of the gold stripes applied along the entire length of the vehicle revealed bubbling at the rear of the hood and some peeling. This along with the clunky suspension, tire rub, and poor climate control earned the GT-H a 3 in the build category.

Although the interior might have warranted a 5 for looks alone, low-quality materials in the form of plastics reduced this to a 4.

I really agonized over giving this car a 4 in the performance category. I wanted to give 5 points, but the chosen gear ratios for the automatic transmission holds back a truly stellar motor.

Pronounced low-speed understeer and an overly stiff ride resulted in a 3 in the handling category.

This one was easy, definitely 5 points for styling. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Hertz knows how most people are going to treat this car. It’s a bargain at the rental fee and a 5 for value.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

3

4

4

3

5

5

4 / B

steering wheel and gaugescarroll shelby motors

Conclusion

This car is all about emotion and passion. It has the right look and makes the right sounds. The acceleration is addictive and I put a smile on my face the entire time that I was behind the wheel. Ford knows their target audiences as far as the Mustangs are concerned and hit the mark with the latest generation from a long line of pony cars. Anyone who is interested in purchasing the Mustang GT has the opportunity to personally evaluate all that it has to offer (including its shortcomings) without first having to “pony” up $35,000. For everyone else, it’s just a blast to drive and a great experience. I have to admit that I seriously considered purchasing a new generation Mustang of similar pedigree with a manual transmission, but couldn’t get around the lack of independent rear suspension. Now if I can just convince the editor to allow me to take this thing to the track for additional evaluation….

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