An America Car to Unite Global Enthusiasts
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The GT350R was one of our favorite cars from 2015, after a track drive the car was nothing like any Mustang ever produced. While we never anticipated reviewing it, magically our inbox contained an email from a local non-profit company who had one they were using to do fundraising. TRI-Industries from Vernon Hills Illinois employees wounded veterans from the local VA hospital and people with disabilities to produce toner cartridges. Since my father had service connected from Vietnam I appreciated what they were trying to do.
It was pretty simple, do a review on the car and help Tri-Industries get the word out about their cause. No money, contracts or sponsorship, for us this was not a business deal just trying to do what we do with car videos and helping local business.
To donate for a chance to win go to the TRI-INDUSTRIES Fundraiser Page Here:
After spending time on the track and on the street there is one thing that stood out about the GT350R, it was like knowing a loved one was on borrowed time, realizing it won't last long. High horsepower, high revving naturally aspirated V8 motors with a manual transmission are a dream these days, and soon to be a fairy tale. With emissions standards, fuel economy regulations the combo this car utilizes will be relegated to the exotics platforms.
Driving the GT350 was as entertaining as the Ferrari 458, this car connects on all levels. More importantly, the use of a high quality manual transmission was more exciting than riding a gassy unicorn.
There is plenty left out to reduce weight which is good because most drivers will be carrying around extra sets of underwear.
Driving the 350R on the street is like prancing around out doors naked, everyone is looking at you. In subdivisions expect certain levels of disgust from neighbors if exhaust is in sport mode, but mostly there is a look of amazement from onlookers. The car has the look and feel of something special. The driving experience from a car in the price range is quite astonishing. The level of steering feedback and overall communication between car and driver is good although it looks like a yacht. Mostly it hides the size namely when pushing around hard. The clutch is light and easy to drive flat out. The manual transmission is one of the better units on the market, at least 75% better than the Mustang GT Getrag.
If you are coming from the GT first thing you will notice is how the 350 is more progressive. The TQ does not send the car sideways it comes on and allows the driver to push much harder. Where most would be shifting the GT the GT350 keeps going another 2000RPM and it will put a smile even on the most jaded driver. The lower splitter is a challenge for most driveways and parking lots. Yes it's fully functional on track but on the street it's a fully functional headache. Luckily no carbon, just plastic so when it gets torn up, cheap replacement.
The biggest issue with the GT350R on the street is the tires which are staggered at 305/315 which cost over 2k a set. They are rock magnets like most super sticky tires. They will help destroy paint faster than a brake fluid spill. This car however is wrapped with protective clear film and was Opti-Coated which eliminated much anxiety. The second issue is the wheels, at over $19k they carry exotic costs. And the number of wheel/tire machines that can safely switch tires is few and far.
We tend to complain about horsepower on many sports cars, however the GT350R is so overkill on the street many will need a small legal team on the payroll if driven hard.
Watch the video for most technical information. The GT350R has been partially designed in a wind tunnel for aero and cooling which means on track items like transmission, engine and diff oil are stable. Also upgraded wheel bearings and other suspension sub structures are up to task making this more of a purpose built car for track day fun. While we have no long term data, the motor was also designed to be a track motor which means this car is something a bit special in the price range. Something Japanese car enthusiasts will love as it has elements of cars like the NSX, S2000 or ITR. Fans of the BMW S65 motor this will also be delighted and disappointed after driving the GT350 as it feels far more powerful. Porsche GT3 owners will also appreciate what Ford was able to do here for the price as the GT350 has elements of what those drivers enjoy.
Like other Mustangs this car suffers the same quality issues with paint and panel gap. It's clear this is where the cost cutting happens, however it's not excusable, if there are corners cut on the things we CAN see, what about those things we can't? In terms of interior, although better in the GT350 the faux retro motif holds back ergonomics in gauge placement. This is where the rental car comes out, with plastic look stitching and budget B segment plastics the car feels less serious. It's an area that needs improvement, if other companies can do it for 25k Ford should be able to. But obviously we can't have it all and it is one of the major reasons why the car is affordable. But if I were Ford I'd be getting more serious about these issues in such a competitive market.
This is one of the best sports cars on the market for driving enthusiasts. A car that defies convention on what is possible for the price point. While it may not be the most refined, elegant, light weight, or fastest around every track the GT350 combines exotic elements, finesse car dynamics and muscle car feel to make it one of the most exciting vehicles to drive to date.