Shelby GT350 throws left-hook at BMW M4

Others | December 1st, 2014 by 55
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Ford’s Shelby GT350 Mustang throws a left hook at the BMW M4 – will it land the punch or miss the mark when it launches in 2015?

It’s a rare event that I get excited for a new car launch. The vast majority of cars are unremarkable, and the select few that are mouth-wateringly desirable are tongue-biting expensive.

I usually find some nit to pick at the launch of even the most desirable supercars, and this typically boils down to a mental exercise my brain plays to reduce the pain of never owning said car because I can’t afford it, or am unwilling to dish out the required dollars. “I would buy that 458 Italia Speciale, but gosh those intakes are so angular.”

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It’s a real humdinger then, when a car launches in the glow of perfection. Every detail having been honed and perfected, your eyes and ears are left with nothing but captive adoration. Those chrome air vents that reflected sunlight in your eyes: deleted. The void between the rear wheels where a limited–slip diff should sit: filled.

Of course, no car is perfect, but a few come very close to perfection. The Porsche 911 (GT3, above all), BMW M5, Ariel Atom, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Jaguar F-Type, Ford Fiesta ST – they’re all cars that strike at perfection in their unique corners of the market and at various price points; they’re all cars that constitute more than the sum of their parts, cars that are animated, characterful and – dare I say – magical. They’re cars that allow you to overlook the few misgivings they have because the package is otherwise truly excellent and intoxicatingly rewarding to drive.

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This brings us to the launch of the Shelby GT350. Nobody saw this coming – not to this degree of excellence.

The original GT350 was Carroll Shelby’s first kick at the street-legal high(er) volume performance car can. Shelby’s mandate with the GT350 was clear from the beginning, but the lump of clay that Ford continually handed him was, well… lumpy. Even Shelby – an accomplished racer and designer – couldn’t quite shape the Mustang into a full-on world-class competitor on the same stage as BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus and other admittedly more expensive sports cars.

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Fast-forward to 2011 and the GT350 nameplate was resurrected after a 40-year hiatus – but ultimately amounted to a bolt-on parts job by a tired Shelby garage that had yet another mediocre sports car platform to start with (can you say “wagon-axle?”).

Revolution Trumps Evolution

The 2015 Shelby GT350 project is different. It’s a Ford job, headed up by the best engineers the company has on offer. It’s more than a project – it’s clearly a love-child, not unlike the BMW 1M, Jaguar XJ220, or the first generation Z3-based M Coupe “clown-shoe.” I suspect many designers and engineers stayed up stewing over the car as late as I lay in bed pondering just how high its flat-plane crankshaft will spin (more on that later). In a word, the new GT350 is ambitious.

The All-new Shelby GT350 Mustang CGI image

Like a few of the world’s best, the Ford Mustang has been developed over many generations. Now in its sixth iteration, and in the form of a specialty performance model, the Mustang has arrived. Thing is, it started off so far behind its European competition that any comparison was laughable, if not disheartening.

I wanted to like it – I truly did, but I just couldn’t get past the live rear axle. It so annoyed my brain that the Mustang was easily dispatched as a wannabe sports car that was outclassed even by energetic sedans. Then there was the second (or third) class interior that squeaked, looked frumpy, and felt like a McDonalds Happy Meal toy. There was also that ‘Joe Dirt’ persona that followed the Mustang around like the party-end of a mullet – an image issue that was conjured by the loud minority of Mustang drivers that dressed and behaved in a fashion unbecoming of a gentleman. Thus, the Mustang never quite caught on in serious sports car circles – it was dismissed as second rate, and by the 5th generation, that was unfair.

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Okay, it still had that damn live rear axle, eager to toss the rear end wide over the smallest mid-corner bump, but that aside – it was a tremendous sports car. Ford even fixed the interior, stepping it up with quality materials on its last life cycle update. The magicians in Ford’s performance division poured a lot of special sauce into the Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca – a car notably quicker than BMW’s E92 M3 around California’s toasty Laguna Seca racetrack, and a new high-water mark for the brand’s under-dog sports car.

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I had the opportunity to unleash the Boss 302 at Ford’s development grounds in Michigan, and it was a drive I won’t soon forget. Even when I aimed for a ‘clean lap’ through the autocross, the 302 inevitably got a touch sideways – it really begs you to push harder. It was a genuine hoot to drive, sounded great, and put down some very fast runs. The Boss 302 is a car fast enough to give a few much more expensive sports cars a run for their money, and pecking order. You can take a look at a couple of my runs through the course with Ford’s Boss 302 below. Please excuse the poor audio and mid-video GoPro deliberation.

Mission: Street Legal Track Car

With the excellent Boss 302 as its kickoff point, Ford set out to create the new Shelby GT350 – a car spiritually dedicated to the racetrack like its original forbear. Unlike every other performance-enhanced Mustang before it, the GT350 has been designed as a harmonious whole – a purpose-built sports car engineered as a complete package – not a parts-bin after-thought. It’s a bespoke sports car. And it’s based on a well-sorted base package – the 2015 Ford Mustang GT.

Ford has been mum on exact power figures, curb weight and pricing – but they’ve spilled enough beans to let us cook up a delicious, dreamy sports car stew. Let’s start with the engine, shall we?

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The Oily Bits

No doubt the biggest surprise in the GT350 is found under its aluminum hood. Ford decided to take the road less traveled and build an all-new power plant unique to the GT350. The only parts it shares with the Mustang GT’s 5.0 litre mill are ancillary – items such as the starter, alternator and a few valvetrain elements.

The allure of this new engine lies not in some form of forced induction – but in its exotic flat-plane crankshaft design. Indeed, only a handful of exotic sports car companies build flat-crank V8s – Ferrari and Porsche among them. Ford has revealed that this new V8 will be the most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever produced by the brand. In other words, it’s lined up to pack more punch per liter than Dearborn’s latest supercar, the Ford GT.

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The technological benefits of the flat-crank design are numerous and significant. First of all, the 180-degree firing order of the engine allows for better breathing, as there is no overlap of exhaust pulses between cylinder banks. The improved breathing lends itself to higher maximal engine output and elevated performance across the entire rev-range with a healthy, flat torque curve.

Second, a flat-plane crankshaft has no primary imbalance, meaning it can forego heavy balancing shafts and counter-balance weights. This makes the engine lighter, and allows it to rev substantially higher. It also allows it to spin up faster, just as adding a lighter flywheel would allow. We know the GT350 will redline above 8,000 rpm; a good guess is 8,200 sonorous, melodic rpm – but it could be higher. Consider that the angriest engines on offer by Ferrari and Porsche redline at 9,000 rpm, and it becomes clear that this Ford engine is very special indeed.

The All-new Shelby GT350 Mustang CGI image

Ford states that the GT350’s 5.2 litre naturally aspirated V8 will produce, “Over 500 horsepower” – a rather hefty figure. It will also pack more than 400 lb-ft of torque, channeled through a 6-speed manual transmission – with no automatic or dual-clutch on offer in a nod to purist performance drivers the world over. We’ll place our bets on 546 hp (105 hp/liter) and around 430 lb-ft of torque. Despite growing in displacement, the GT350’s engine is lighter than the Mustang GT’s 5.0 liter.

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The new Mustang GT sporting a 6-speed manual weighs 3,705 pounds (1,680 kg); for comparative purposes, that’s exactly 1 pound heavier than BMW’s E92 M3 coupe with a 6-speed manual. BMW have done an incredible job of lightening the M4, which tips the scales at 3,530-pounds (1,601 kg) when fitted with a manual – thus leaping into an entirely different weight class than its predecessor and the run-of-the-mill Mustang GT. We can expect the new GT350 to weigh less than the GT, as Ford has switched out the entire front body skin with aluminum panels – the bonnet and front wings are all made of the lightweight alloy – and has sought weight savings in other areas around the car. Don’t expect major weight loss to bring the GT350 toe-to-toe with the M4 (beefier performance parts add weight back onto the car) – we would place our bets on a curb weight in the neighborhood of 3,600-3,650 lbs (1,633-1655 kg).

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Ford has stuck with conventional iron rotors to bring this frenzied sports car to a halt, but they’ve pulled no punches in making this braking system the most aggressive they’ve ever produced. The PR folks have stated that the GT350’s brakes are, “the most track-credible ever offered on a Ford vehicle in terms of absolute stopping power, fade resistance and brake pedal feel.” The discs are cross-drilled, mounted on aluminum hubs, measuring 15.5 inches (394 millimeters) up front, and 15 inches (380 millimeters) at the rear.

In terms of chassis dynamics, the GT350 starts with a very rigid base – the 2015 Mustang gains 28% more torsional rigidity than the 5th generation Mustang it replaces. A carbon-fiber strut-tower brace promises to further stiffen things up, allowing the new continuously adjustable dampers to do their job. The front track has been widened to enhance front-end grip – a move similar to Porsche’s widening of the 991’s front track.

Mustang, Meet Wind Tunnel

Finally we arrive at the aero package on the GT350, which firmly establishes this Mustang as a serious performance machine. To compensate for the widened front track of the car Ford has lowered the engine bonnet and wrapped it tightly around the engine, thus maintaining a similar frontal area. Reworked front fascia elements and a low-slung front splitter promise to work in concert with a functional rear diffuser, fed by a ducted and contoured underbody surface – once again, think Ferrari. Every vent is functional, either feeding or exhausting hot air from the radiator, front brakes, engine oil cooler, transmission cooler or rear limited-slip differential.

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An Interior Worthy of Serious Drivers

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The interior promises to be first rate with customized Recaro sport buckets, high-grip materials (think alcantara), aluminum appointments and non-glare dash elements. Will it measure up to the lush ambience of a Porsche or Ferrari? No, most certainly not. Will it feel special and give the driver a proper cockpit? Yes – and it may have entered the same universe as BMW’s M4 interior – not likely as luxurious or premium, but at least competing on the same planet, maybe even the same continent.

GT350 Interior
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The Not So Good

I’m perplexed why Ford didn’t build an all-aluminum Ford Mustang, instead choosing to build an all-aluminium pickup truck (the new Ford F-150). Nobody cares about lightening up a pickup – in fact for towing and snow-plowing, most owners want a heavier truck. Nonetheless, Ford invested millions in an all-aluminum body pickup – shaving 700 pounds off the curb weight(!) – while leaving the body of the Mustang GT in steel.

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Yes, it’s about fuel economy – but it’s disappointing that Ford didn’t give its new Mustang the same light-weight treatment as its best-selling pickup.

The GT350 promises a partial aluminum body, but we can’t help but ponder just how light Ford could’ve gone had the base Mustang been a svelte 3,500 lbs to begin with (the new Mustang GT actually gained 87 lbs over its predecessor).

On another note, I’m a little concerned about the production GT350’s engine sound. It could sound an awful lot like a V8 Ferrari, given the engine’s similar flat-plane crankshaft architecture and lofty redline, but I’m slightly concerned Ford might get it wrong. In the below video showing prototypes on the ‘Ring, the engine sound leaves my ears straining to hear the high-rpm fervor. It sounds closer to a large-displancement Mercedes-Benz AMG V8 – which isn’t entirely a bad thing, but I crave the metallic music hailing from Italy.

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An Educated Guess

Like every other journalist, I’m hesitant to pass judgment before driving the car on road and track – but all signs point toward awesome. Before the new Toyota GT86 (known in North American markets as the Scion FR-S) launched, I analyzed the data and arrived at a similar level of giddy anticipation – and as it turns out, my projections were vindicated when the car finally launched (see here) – the GT86/FR-S is a smashing success, hailed as one of the world’s best driving cars in equal chorus by the world’s automotive journalism core.

It appears that Ford have perfected the GT350 such that it will leave little to be desired, and like a few other aforementioned exceptional cars, its shortcomings will be easily overlooked in light of its brilliant strengths and exotic persona.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the GT350 will be hailed as one of the best new performance cars of 2015, able to take the fight to the Europeans.

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What about the inevitable badge snobbery?

To those who would dismiss Ford’s racing credentials, perhaps it’s time you let the Ford GT40’s crushing defeat of Ferrari at LeMans sink in. Or the victories Ford has claimed at the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix of Monaco, Baja 1000 and WRC World Rally Championship percolate in your gray matter. Then there’s the global Formula Ford open-wheel racing series. Okay, the bulk of Ford’s cars remain mainstream and utilitarian, but it’s clear that when Ford’s best get behind a project, it can indeed be the best, or at minimum compete valiantly on the world stage.

The Ford badge doesn’t hail from Europe, but Ford’s global product line is now heavily influenced and developed by its European division. The GT350 has spent quality time lapping the Nurburgring with lofty European sports car targets in its cross hairs – and that should bode well for the final production car.

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Still not impressed?

If you’ve got a hankering for an even more extreme, lightweight Mustang, you’ll have to wait for the GT350R to launch at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show (It will be to the GT350 what the Boss 302 Laguna Seca was to the regular Boss 302 Mustang of the last generation).

Rumor has it the GT350R will delete the rear seats and exchange more steel for aluminum and carbon-fiber, thus lightening the car closer to the weight of an M4, or possibly even less. Power will be increased, and the suspension will likely be further dialed-in for track use, as will the brakes (carbon ceramic?) and wheel & tire package.

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Who will cross-shop a GT350 with an M4?

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Historically, few M3 buyers thought of the Mustang and visa versa when shopping for their new performance car – but the Boss 302 Laguna Seca started to change that. Ford directly attacked the M3 and openly bragged that its finely-tuned Boss 302 was quicker around Laguna Seca – the marketing team was so proud of this achievement they added “Laguna Seca” to the nomenclature.

Ford’s high-rev flat-plane V8 is sure to be a gem of a powerplant. It subscribes to BMW’s former high-rev engine philosophy in M cars of generations past. I’m not the only BMW aficionado who misses the wailing 8,400 rpm redline of the E92 M3, or the 8,250 rpm scream of the E60 M5’s V10 – thousands of BMW fans miss the high-rev character of previous M engines. The GT350 may have more E46 M3 character in it than the M4 does, and this could swing some M4 shoppers to the dark blue side.

Ford want you to cross-shop the Mustang before you buy an M4 – but it remains to be seen how discerning performance drivers and BMW owners will react to the GT350 once it launches. The step on in technology, style and performance certainly won’t hurt Ford’s cause – particularly when you factor in a price tag that will likely undercut the M4 by at least ten thousand George Washingtons.

How Much?

The MSRP of the new GT350 was supposedly leaked at the LA Auto Show – those standing by the grape vine heard $52,995 USD in the US market. The GT350R due to launch in Detroit is rumored to call for around $70,000 for all its track-ready tech, and costly weight-reducing materials.

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See You on the Racetrack

Stay tuned for a track and road review of the new GT350 once it launches. Only after pitting it directly against the M4 can we draw clear conclusions.

In the meantime, check out the GT350 completing development laps on the ‘Ring.

55 responses to “Shelby GT350 throws left-hook at BMW M4”

  1. Mike says:

    And ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the all new fordblog.com, formerly known as bmwblog.com

    • Horatiu B. says:

      So…just cause we test the competition, that makes us a another blog? As a reviewer, it is tough to be objective or to appreciate a product if you don’t try “other products”. We are not fanboys, never wanted to be, never will.

      • Mike says:

        Take it easy, man, it’s just a little bit of sarcasm. Of course it doesn’t make you another blog. I just think it has almost nothing to do with bmw (too much details about the mustang) in contrast with other articles in this section. Cheers.

        • Horatiu B. says:

          Trying Mike, but there are so many attacks on us lately and it’s frustrating cause we put in a lot of work to delivery cool stuff. And different.

          • Mike says:

            Well, I hope you see that my comment wasn’t meant as an attack (I apologize if that’s the case). I respect you guys, you’re one of my two main sources of information when it comes to BMW. Keep on the good work and ignore those people that don’t appreciate it.

          • Horatiu B. says:

            All good. Words come across differently on the Internet :)

            Thanks for your support.

  2. Schm says:

    I think the new Mustang looks killer and can’t wait for the comparo’s to roll in. I suspect the two will be much closer in performance, but with the “base” 350 it will boil down to how much more are you willing to pay for not a huge upgrade in the M4. I will still take the M4 any day.

  3. Martial_Bob says:

    Ford spent the money developing the aluminum body for the F150 because they know where they make their money.

  4. Anthony McClinton says:

    Great Article. Looking forward to when people can actually test this car.

  5. oooBooo says:

    Ford sells something like a half a million F series trucks a year. Possibly more, I’ve lost track. Production figures are very important in CAFE calculations. Every 0.01 mpg really has an impact on the F series truck. I’ve also lost track of Mustang sales but they’ve been under 100K for awhile. The bang for the buck for aluminum investment was the F series.

    CAFE is a stupid way to encourage fuel economy but in the USA moral crusaders like to control other people’s choices rather than just encourage and punish. CAFE is more effective to bring that about than other methods.

  6. THX1138 says:

    Having always been a fan of German engineering (had numerous BMWs, MBs and Porsches); as well as a fan of Carroll Shelby… No matter what Ford does with it (all aluminum in the future?); I’m willing to “bet the ranch” there will never be a Mustang that can compare to the over-all quality of a BMW.

    • 5.0Mustang says:

      Before my 2013 5.0, I had a 2000 Mustang GT. Fit and finish were certainly not perfect – nowhere near the Volvo or BMWs in our family. However, it went for almost 180,000 miles before I traded it. During that time it rewarded me with a very high level of reliability, and it was ridiculously cheap to maintain. These are two things I could never say about our European cars, especially the Volvo.

  7. NMGOM says:

    Even without this new Mustang, I had given up on the turbo-6 cylinder M3/M4 twins. 425 HP is WAY too low nowadays. I was wondering what BMW were thinking for America. The old line of, “it’s not just about HP!” — just doesn’t cut it anymore. All new sporty cars corner well (Corvette, I was looking at you for $56K). So YES, it IS now all about HP. The entry ticket to this ball game starts at better than 450 HP, so exceeding 500 would be perfect. Of course, BMW do not report M-car sales separately, so we’ll never know for sure…

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    • jake says:

      BMWs are about balance. The body is designed around the engine, not vice-versa. For example, Mercedes-AMG puts a large engine into the body of (for example) a c-class. Boom c63 amg. sure, the 507 edition has over 500hp and is one of the largest n/a engines for benz, but its lateral Gs are bad when compared to an e92 m3. Also, why is it that BMW 300hp cars are faster than other 350+hp cars? It’s just some prefer having an absolute monster (hellcat) while others prefer to have well-trained rottweiler.

      • NMGOM says:

        Hi jake – –

        Yes, I am all too familiar with what BMW’s are all about, since I own two of them. And, yes, balance is a key feature. But it is no longer unique. All good sporty cars have reasonable balance and handling nowadays, or they would not survive for long in the market place. And that “balance” is most useful on curvy European roads on which BMW’s were created: America simply has far less of the Stelvio Pass type of road. So, that leaves torque and horsepower, — and how much comes in at what values of the RPM range, — to be the distinguishing factors. I have grown tired of having a sporty car about which I have to say, “Yes, but…..”. America’s newly reinvigorated car industry has given us the new Corvette, the new Challenger, and new Mustang, any of which can put BMW’s to shame on American roads and streets: the “faster” reference you quoted applies to race courses. BTW: I appreciate your dog analogy, but my untrained American Mastiff will now have your well-trained German Rottweiler for lunch (^_^)…

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      • NMGOM says:

        Hi again, jake – – –

        I would like to address this “faster” and “balance” issue a bit more, exactly on the race track to which “faster” is alleged to apply. (Frankly, perfect balance is greatly over-rated. A 50/50 weight distribution is fun when neither accelerating nor braking, such as swinging at approximately constant speeds through the”twisties”.) Well, let’s look at the ALMS and TUDOR Sports Car Racing series to watch how uncompetitive the BMW M-cars and Z-cars have become.
        A) In 2012, BMW gave up on the boxy high-revving M3 cars, in the face of dominance by the older high-torque C6R Corvettes. They then switched to the Z4 GTE cars.
        B) In 2014, the (now) TUDOR USCC series, 9 races, gave the following official season results:
        …1) Porsche
        …2) Viper
        …3) Corvette
        So here we have a greatly imbalanced Porsche (45/55) as the overall victor, followed by a Viper GTS with a lightly imbalanced weight distribution (49/51), followed by a Corvette C7.R, again with imbalanced weight distribution (49/51), intentionally produced by putting the transmission in the back. And the “perfectly balanced” BMW Z4 GTE**? It came in 4th (not ranked), just ahead of the partially defective Risi Competitzione Ferrari.

        ** Actually, for this series, BMW sought to IMBALANCE the car to get closer to a 48/52 weight distribution. But its poor results came from poor straight-line speed caused by poor torque at low RPM, and by LOW Horsepower at medium RPM.

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  8. Really good article guys! Makes a lot of BMW folks and ‘other’ enthusiasts really “THINK.” Keep up the good work.

  9. jason bourne says:

    Like all American muscle cars, the Mustang looks big, thick, and brutish, which is apparently the way Americans like their cars.

    Is there any American car designer that is familiar with the phrase “Sleek, flowing lines”?

    • NMGOM says:

      Yeah, but he got fired from BMW… (^_^)…

      =======================

    • Chris says:

      As a ‘murikan, I think most german designs fall into the “competent but boring” category (particularly true for Merc’s and Audi’s). I think BMW has a strong overall brand look, but I honestly have trouble differentiating between a couple of the models unless I stop and stare for a second.

      American muscle cars are supposed to be brutish and brash. We paint these things fuscia and purple and green. They’re supposed to be a little ridiculous and instantly identifiable when they blast past you in a cloud of tire smoke. Subtlety is not the name of the game :)

    • Paul says:

      Perhaps you should look again at the profile photo. The brutish may have been the case in the past but specifically on the GT350 that appears to have been addressed.

  10. Fenderaddict2 says:

    I left a string of 5 Bimmers including an M3 for a Boss 302. This new GT350 might just keep me in a Ford.

  11. Guest says:

    So the article was almost ENTIRELY about the Mustang and then at the end you can’t draw a conclusion because they haven’t been on a track together?? C’mon man…. Next time start off with “There is no conclusion at the end because (insert reason here)….but read my thoughts knowing that if you like.”

    • Horatiu B. says:

      I don’t think it was misleading at all. The title didn’t say driving comparison or anything. It was an introduction to the Mustang and a preview of future tests.

  12. Gareth Williams says:

    “The magicians in Ford’s performance division poured a lot of special sauce into the Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca* – a car notably quicker than BMW’s E92 M3 around California’s toasty Laguna Seca racetrack”

    *Equipped with semi-slicks, and which loses badly to its equivalent M car – the M3 GTS.

  13. dpick357 says:

    Am l mistaken, is one of the cars RHD?. If it is l would love to see this running in the V8 supercar races and especially at Bathurst alongside the Mercs and Volvos etc. and just maybe BMW might join the series?????

  14. Despite the power and improvements, they are simply not in the same class. The new buyers of the BMW are young executives or older business men looking for a fun car with a back seat to drive and impress. You gt no such gravitas with the Mustang. Its a kids car, okay in your 20s not so okay in your 40s. The Vette is also in a different class, Its a two seater, not a practical daily driver or family car. Even Porsche knows that, hence the Panerama. Plus the vette still has that mid life or cigar smoking chain wearing stank. Finally its not the HP unless you fall for that marketing hype, its how you lay down the power and the M4, despite the low HP lays it down like a higher HP car.

    • 5.0Mustang says:

      I am a 41-year-old executive. I have a 5.0. The interior upgrade and spoiler delete option help class it up considerably, but when it comes down to it, I am really not looking to impress people with my car. I do, however, rather enjoy spinning the rear tires!

      • Horatiu B. says:

        Good for you. It should be that way. I honestly drove my 1M to work a lot and that is def not a consultant’s car :) Especially with all the crazy parts I had on it.

        • 5.0Mustang says:

          I love BMWs, especially the smaller models. My wife has a 1994 325i that she inherited from her dad. It is basically a track/autocross car that can be driven on the street. Pretty insane and a lot of fun, although your 1M would likely run rings around it. She also used to have a 318ti before we had kids. That thing was stock and only had 138 hp but with the 5-speed it drove like a slot car.

      • “I do, however, rather enjoy spinning the rear tires!” tells me that you like to impress a certain class of people, and those are not BMW buyers. I guess you are 41 going on 25. As long as it makes you happy, but I stand by my point, different class (not better) of buyer.

        • 5.0Mustang says:

          I can’t say that I disagree . . . I grew up with American V-8’s. Nothing like an occasional hooning to keep things interesting. I like the BMWs too, though. My wife has an X3 and I love driving it.

      • “I do, however, rather enjoy spinning the rear tires!” tells me that you like to impress a certain class of people, and those are not BMW buyers. I guess you are 41 going on 25. As long as it makes you happy, but I stand by my point, different class (not better) of buyer.

    • Trevor Trooll says:

      I think you read into the stereo type too much. I bought my dad a boss 302, hes almost 70 and loves it. He wouldn’t trade it for an M3. If i had my way, I would own both. They are both great cars, but the ford is the “fun” car and I think its unfair to think you have to be 20 to drive it.

      • First, its Ford’s fault not BMWs that the Mustang has that rap. And since you used the word fun, it helps prove my hypothesis, a fun car is for a kid, a grown-up drive a serious car. The M4 is a serious car, as it is less flashy, less noisy, more serious and somber interior, higher quality materials, and is a gateway car to larger more serious luxury cars like the 5 and 7 series. The Mustang fails in all of that. Your dad is probably retired, and he does not have to drive the Mustang to the office and park with the other BMWs, Audis and Mercs. As for, “I think you read into the stereotype too much,” I can assure you in any white collar executive parking lot, it will stick out like a sore thumb.

        • bootgras says:

          I’d never be caught dead driving a BMW to an “executive” parking lot, whatever that is. I always loved parking my loud Mustang, NSX, or 911 turbo there instead. Good lord people take the “fitting in” thing too seriously. Guess this is how people succeed when they have no skills.

          • Wow you are such an iconoclast. A real rebel. James Dean reincarnated. In the real world where you have to impress bosses and clients, take people to lunch, and inspire confidence in both your abilities and personality, nothing says I’m the man than a loud Mustang.

  15. Scott Reynolds says:

    Thanks Shawn and Horatiu for publishing this article. True enthusiast cars like the GT350 should be celebrated by car guys. Even a BMW fan like me can see this car is going to be great. I say keep the competition coming, it’s great for the industry and us drivers/customers.

  16. 5.0Mustang says:

    I am a consultant at a professional firm. I drive a 2013 Mustang 5.0 instead of the obligatory Lexus or BMW. Why be just dad going to work, when you can pretend to be Steve McQueen while you’re at it? The modern Mustang has just the right blend of capability, style, and somewhat obnoxious “git-r-done” attitude. It is not supposed to be a completely refined sports car, and despite the obvious trend in the new S550 platform, I hope it never will be!

    That said, my wife has a 2014 X3 28i, so I can appreciate the German approach. Who knew you could have an SUV that could charge to 60 in well under 7 seconds, take a corner as fast as a sports sedan, and return over 30 mpg on the highway. I would expect the M4 to have a level of refinement different from the Mustang in many respects. It’s what makes a BMW a BMW.

    The 2015 Mustang and M4 are both great cars with mostly very different approaches. I am not expecting a lot of converted BMW enthusiasts, but this does make for an interesting comparison.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Did consulting for a Big Four also and the usual ride was BMW, MB or Porsche :)

    • Hate to say this but in this culture, especially on the West or East Coast, the Mustang will make you look immature compared to your peers. It like wearing a cheap suit. That somewhat obnoxious “git-r-done” attitude is exactly what lexus, bmw and mercedes want to avoid. Its a class distinction, and you are judged by that class distinction in the professional world. Look at what the people above you drive, bet that there are no mustangs….Hate to be “that guy” but I have been doing this (egad) 30 years and love cars, and have repeatedly thought then dismissed any notion of a Mustang as a dd. I even had a Pontiac G8 (you know, M5 for 30k less) and I had to debadge it (went all Holden) to lessen the ew he drives that vibe in some circles.

      • 5.0Mustang says:

        The G8 is greatly missed – one of the few recent American cars whose passing I lament.

        I used to live in the NYC area, so sadly I agree with your assessment. Thankfully in the mid-sized metro area where I am now, what you drive doesn’t matter as much – there’s a “buy local, buy American” vibe and I actually get a lot of compliments from clients when I show up in the Mustang. Most new Mustang drivers around here are 40+, and I happen to know at least one local CEO who has one – the guy I am thinking of actually has several, including a Boss 302.

        Also, compared to Mustangs, we have an absolutely huge number of Challengers around; I swear a third of the output is sold here. Lots of Camaros, too. But plenty of the European marques as well.

      • Horatiu B. says:

        Still confused why the Mustang gets a bad rep? I mean it’s a great car to drive and shows the you enjoy that.

        But I do get the whole idea of professionalism, lived in the corporate world for a long time

      • Sean Michael Sharp says:

        Look, I get it. You turn your nose up at just about anything that doesn’t have the propellers on the hood (You took the Pontiac badges off your G8. Wow.). I love BMWs but you’re giving their owners a bad rep. There are plenty of people on the West and East coasts (I’ve lived on both with my Boss 302), who would smile at the fact I drive a Mustang as opposed to a BMW. I had the best of both worlds for awhile as my dad had an E46 while I had my uncultured Mustang GT and for a short period of time after I traded up to my Boss. He even jumped ship into a Boss himself. Maybe you should actually try driving a Mustang before you pass it off as inferior. You might actually like it!

        • I never said it wasn’t a great car to drive, that is not the issue. However, cars do reflect who we are in many ways, a projection of our status and lives. Minivans say something, Camry says something, a brown car says something. Mustang says 1. V6 – Rental Car; Secretary; 2. GT – Hooligan in his 20s and early 30s; 3. Boss/Shelby – Older guy from blue collar background reliving youth. These are stereotypes but rooted in facts. I don’t know what you do for a living or where on the east coast you lived, but drive in any parking garage in a city with tall buildings and look at the reserved spaces, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, this signifies you have made it, not that its a better car. As to me, I did look at the last gen mustang and the interior was so cheesy (like most american cars) I passed on a test drive. I will look at the new one of course, though I have to say the new Vette is great (though I am now worried about over saturation, I feel like I see 10 a day). And to proove I am only a half snob, my other car is a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair (http://mjposner.com/Corvair). I am even the head of a charity event for these cars (www.aircooledforcharity.org)

    • Hate to say this but in this culture, especially on the West or East Coast, the Mustang will make you look immature compared to your peers. It like wearing a cheap suit. That somewhat obnoxious “git-r-done” attitude is exactly what lexus, bmw and mercedes want to avoid. Its a class distinction, and you are judged by that class distinction in the professional world. Look at what the people above you drive, bet that there are no mustangs….Hate to be “that guy” but I have been doing this (egad) 30 years and love cars, and have repeatedly thought then dismissed any notion of a Mustang as a dd. I even had a Pontiac G8 (you know, M5 for 30k less) and I had to debadge it (went all Holden) to lessen the ew he drives that vibe in some circles.

  17. Levi says:

    Great article. Never been a Ford Mustang fan, but this one promises to be epic. I might like it even more than the RC F which I like very much. According to the assumption BMW fans are car enthusiasts, they should all like the Mustang GT350 to some extent or at least give credit. If they don’t they are not car enthusiasts, but just BMW fans. Being a BMW fan is than just no different than being an Audi fan. Initially there a reason for liking BMW, and it can only be that one is a car enthusiast, the customer BMW mostly responds (responded?) to.

  18. jon says:

    Shawn, I really enjoyed reading this well researched post and love the comparison to the new M4. It will be even better when these two go toe to toe on the track. Ironic that BMW went from high reving NA to a forced induction set-up to get more power out of its incredible 3L I6. Ford has done just the opposite moving away from forced induction SVT/Shelby projects and going with an exotic flat-plane NA V8. Would love to have garage space for both! I wish Shawn had chosen the z4 M with the s54 rather than the clown shoe to give props to. Considering both, and having owned previous generations of both, but not a mustang since the 2003, I will opt to also come full circle back to the USA for the gt350-R.
    Have owned both ponies and bimmers in sequence–>1966 Mustang 2+2 Fastback (log in the back), 2003 SVT Cobra (Mustang’s only IRS set-up in the past), 2007 BMW z4 M coupe (caged track only car now); 2007 335i Dinan s3.

  19. […] article Shelby GT350 throws left-hook at BMW M4 appeared first on BMW […]

  20. 1nascarnut1 says:

    Since I run lots of track days a year I’ll start seeing GT350s and get a ride in one. I could become an owner of one if they are really quick. Would really like to get an R but since they are so limited production
    availability will probably be zip not to mention outrageous pries.

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