Should the BMW M4 fear the Shelby GT350?

BMW M4 | August 30th, 2015 by 31
bmw m4 shelby gt350 750x500

The BMW M3/M4 has been compared to hot Mustangs for quite some time now. The Mustang has always offered a similar formula as the BMW …

The BMW M3/M4 has been compared to hot Mustangs for quite some time now. The Mustang has always offered a similar formula as the BMW M3/M4, but with none of the finesse or precision. However, the most recent Mustang has closed the gap more than ever between the two cars. With the latest Shelby GT350 iteration, can the Mustang finally hang with the M4?

While the Mustang has always been a bit of a big brute version of the M3/M4, for considerably less money, the latest Shelby GT350 seems to be a far more sophisticated machine than any Mustang before it.

ShelbyGT350 18 HR 750x438

Using a flat-plane crank V8, similar to what Ferrari uses, the GT350 makes a very healthy 526 hp, or 102 more than the current BMW M4. Paired to a six-speed manual, the GT350 can get to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, just one tenth quicker than the M4. It also runs the quarter mile in 12.1. This ‘Stang is properly quick.

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But it isn’t just straight-line speed where the GT350 excels. Ford and Shelby have gone through considerable lengths to ensure that this Pony can handle with the best sports cars in the world. Using magnetic adjustable shocks and a combination of Brembo calipers and special iron-aluminum rotors, from a small German company called SHW, the GT350 turns, handles and stops as good as anything with a blue and white roundel.

According to recent drive reviews, the GT350 turns in sharply and sticks to the pavement like glue with little to no body roll. The rear end is easily controllable with the throttle and the chassis is dynamic. The engine also revs to 8,000 rpm and makes an incredible noise doing it. So the GT350 isn’t just a beefed up pony car with a supercharger and nearly road-illegal tires, like the Camaro Z/28. It’s a sophisticated racing machine for the road, that uses some of Ford’s best racing techniques, made to compete in the world market, not just for rednecks. It’s exciting and dynamic and lightweight, like the best sports cars from Europe.


However, the suspension is quite a bit stiffer and more uncomfortable than the BMW M4’s and is more of a track car than a road car. While it puts down similar numbers to the M4 and can probably hand with it, toe-to-toe, on a race track, the BMW M4 might be the better all-around car to own. But the Shelby GT350 does have a considerably big price advantage, costing $49,995 for the standard car and $63,495 for the lighter and more hardcore GT350R. So the Shelby GT350 makes a compelling case as an alternative to the famous Bavarian, despite not being quite the all-rounder that the M4 is.

Considering the price, it’s hard to make a case for the M4 over it without driving both back to back. Regardless, though, Ford is inching closer to BMW than ever before.

31 responses to “Should the BMW M4 fear the Shelby GT350?”

  1. Locke42 says:

    There seem to be an awful lot of new and upcoming cars nowadays that BMW M cars should be afraid of.

    Cadillac ATS-V
    Jaguar XE
    Shelby GT350 Mustang

    Am I missing anything?

    • IN77 says:

      Yes, maybe the new Alfa Giulia QV…

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      Replace XE by Giulia QV, add the Challenger Hellcat (makes as much sense as the GT350 price wise).
      In a more “correct” way i’d say in its “more important” segment BMW M should fear the Giulia QV and RS4 B9.

      • Zim says:

        But what will Hellcats and GT350’s cost after the dealers slap their markup on them? That’s the real question. I’d love to have a GT350 for 435 money but I am skeptical that is actually what is on offer here.

    • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) says:

      C63 Coupe.

  2. Darko says:

    Yes the “bang for buck” wins mustang, but all around M4 is still better car to me, it’s better built, better engineered. It weighs more, and got 100hp disadvantage, and still menages to sprint only .1sec slower.

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      Manual vs DCT though, and much more lighter which is nice off the line.

    • Zim says:

      But you’re not getting an M4 for less than 75k realistically — is it worth the extra 15-20k? They are both great sports cars obviously. I’m sure the BMW has the better interior. I bet the GT350 is more fun to listen to. I bet that 6-speed manual is loads of fun. I’d probably buy the one with better road feel in the steering.

      • janon says:

        It’s not worth an extra $1. Seriously. I think people need to STOP posting and DRIVE them. And leave the BS badge snobbery crap aside.

        I drove the M4 and the GT350 back to back. It’s not even a comparison.

        The M4 feels like a small M6. The GT350 feels like a smaller displacement Viper. That says it all. One is a grand tourer with a bit of an attitude, very “un M3 like” overall demeanor, and a gob of power that it often can’t put down well. The other is a true focused track car.

      • David Braylark says:

        I got my m4 for $65k with only 5k miles … practically new. Throw in the custom tune (added 120hp) and no comparison in my opinion.

  3. Kaisuke971 says:

    Z/28 has an NA engine though. Replace the supercharger part with “Enormous V8” and add “Gigantic brakes” haha

  4. iLeicaMike says:

    I’m fairly certain the reason the new(er) Mustangs are so heavily compared to the M3/4 has more to do with Ford knowing it’s inflammatory enough to get the press to take the bait, but safe enough to not offend. A handful of consumers will switch sides, for both vehicles, but at the end of the day Ford customers and BMW customers rarely mix.

    • Zim says:

      All modern cars are pretty good as far as safety and electronics and reliability – but also they’re all pretty bad in that they use a lot of plastic and engineered in obsolescence to make sure that you’ll definitely want the latest model. This is as true of a Ford as it is a BMW. The more people come to realize this and see through the marketing spin, the more that luxury brands may see more competition from non-luxury brands.

      • iLeicaMike says:

        That’s a pretty bold statement to make, with no sources to cite, or facts to present. I’m not going to act as though BMW or Ford make the perfect machine, but (at the very least for BMW) I challenge you to respond with verifiable information to back up this claim of “planned obsolescence”. As someone who works in product design, albeit not for vehicles, I can tell you I have yet to meet a designer or a manufacturer whom intentionally cuts corners when bringing their product to market. The chances of that being discovered, or degrading the brands reputation, are reason enough to not do what your claiming is happening.

        It’s not a marketing ploy; it’s common sense to build a good product if you want to retain/build a customer base. Take off the tinfoil hat, and just enjoy living in a day and age where manufacturing, engineering, and design, are at their greatest peak of advancement in human history.

  5. IceDree says:

    You are thinking ZL1, The Z28 have a Naturally Aspirated 7 Liter V8 pushing out 505hp & 470 ib-ft

  6. mxpwrs says:

    the mustang is actually cool looking and exciting. the bmw is a boring stuffy, stodgy device by comparison. BMWs are yuppys on wheels. They’re like listening to Mozart. Sure, it’s “better” in some ways than the Mustang. But I’ll be heading for the slipknot concert instead. Which would be the Mustang. It’s cooler, more bad ass, more sexy. It’s the hottie wit tatts and piercings. The BMW is the accountant that good at math. yawn.

  7. Stephen Garrett says:

    Hmm, where to start?

    First off, the ZL1 is supercharged, not the Z/28. The ZL1 was intended to be a powerful muscle GT, which it does very, very well. It’s a great car. It’s far, far more than a ‘beefed up pony car’. It’d eat an E92’s lunch on a back road. The Z/28 uses the NA 7.0 LS7, and that car is spectacular. If you haven’t ever driven one, you can’t comprehend how good of a car it is. I’m a huge BMW fan, but the Z/28’s driving dynamics shame anything from Bavaria.

    As for this new GT350, if it doesn’t outright perform better than the M4, it’ll be within spitting distance. All while being much cheaper, and while being the better driver’s car. And with the flat-plane V8 and manual, it’ll probably feel like the more special car. There’s no doubt the R model is going to easily outperform the M4. The GT350 will most definitely not be a hard car to DD, either. Idk what would give one such an impression.

    But in the end, these cars appeal to vastly different buyers. Not many people are going to be cross-shopping the two. Myself, I couldn’t justify the extra money over the Shelby for the M4. But I could an M3, with it’s added practicality. And I still stand by the M3 being the best small sport sedan against the new ATS-V, C63, etc.

  8. Matt Stokes says:

    I guess it’s important since the USA is one of M’s biggest markets, but is the GT350 even sold outside of the Americas?

    • Stephen Garrett says:

      I believe now that the GT is expanding to new markets, the GT350 is as well, but I could be wrong.

    • Darko says:

      Not yet, and I doubt it will be available in Europe. Thing is we only get base models here. We don’t get C7 Z06 but, we do get 4.7(if Im not wrong) Stringray, and it costs 91-92K in dollars. Same goes for Dodge, Ford…

  9. janon says:

    Yes, it should be afraid… The GT350 is a monster. Brand aside, the M4 isn’t in the same class. At this point it’s become largely a junior M6 whereas the Mustang, esp the Shelby, just gets better and more focused as it chases the incredible C7 Vette.

    BMW is going the *other* direction. Only in BMW fan circles (of which I am admittedly one) is this even a question. It’s a nice grand tourer with an attitude, but it had better leave it up to Porsche to challenge American muscle now. And I mean that ON THE TRACK

  10. Matthew Thomson says:

    You have to be kidding…. I have been a BMW man for years and still have a 1998 540i thats working fine. But BMW now stands for Buick Motor Works… Gone are the days of a sharp drivers car. Now you have fake engine sounds from speakers and safe and dull road feel at a steep price. Even the previous, more sporty V8 M3 could not keep up with a basic car like the Mustang boss 302 that cost much less. Now with the new generation camaros and mustangs…… BMW has just become a well built and engineered German luxury car…..a German Buick… So sad…. No drivers car here.

  11. ExoticWaves says:

    This article is written in a very nice way to say that the mustang in its current incarnation is better than the BMW. One aspect that the article doesn’t discuss is the comparison between the interiors and the integration of Apple play with the center console, etc. Ford has a better machine in and out IMHO for less money, so why buy a BMW?

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