Saturday, March 11, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

The Shelby GT350 Mustang might be the most fun you can have for under 100 grand. Hell, it might be the most fun you can have in a car, period.

I don’t know how much of the sky-high redline is because of the flat-plane crankshaft stuffed inside the 5.2-liter V8, but I know it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that when this pony is rapping at 8,250 rpm it sounds like the world is coming to an end, and then you shift and do it again.

While the VooDoo V8 is cool, it isn’t the car’s only trick. This Track-Pack-equipped tester is all-sports car. The comfort we found inside the Ford Focus RS, Dodge Challenger Hellcat or that you’ll eventually find in the Camaro ZL1 isn’t there. There isn’t a massive infotainment system to keep you entertained on your daily commute -- just a small screen that lets you know what radio station you’re on. Sure, you can throw the tech package at the ’17s -- it was either tech or track but not both for ’16 -- and that might make sense long term, but it would almost kill the spirit of the car.

That being said, despite its spartan accoutrements, it is a well-done cabin. The heavily bolstered driver and passenger seats hold you tightly as you throw the car around, but are easily comfortable enough for daily use. The multifunction steering wheel lets you select the various drive modes with your right thumb via a small rocker switch. The LCD display between the tachometer and the speedometer is your central command for any gauge you’d want. I was most impressed with a cylinder-head temperature gauge. (Ed note: Nerd.) It’ll also let you customize how the shift light comes on and let you know what mode the shocks are in.

The suspension in track mode is probably one of the best I’ve experienced, but in sport mode on uneven expressways it’s still hilariously stiff. Even in normal, the dampers did a poor job dealing with the struggles of terrible roads, which might make the GT350 a questionable choice for long-haul road trips, but that’s fine. It’s not supposed to be a long hauler –- it’s supposed to be a road-course ripper.

The most frustrating part for me was the strange clutch feel. I prefer a heavier-than-normal clutch in a sports car, with lots of feedback through the pedal. This Mustang has a light clutch that becomes effortless at the end of its stroke. This might make sense for holding the clutch in while snail crawling through traffic, but it takes time to get used to. On releasing the clutch, there is a weird flat-spot feel when entering the friction zone, which can cause some accidental sideways slides while getting familiar.

Dollar for dollar, I’d take this over anything on the road right now. It might even be the best Mustang ever.

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