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LA Show: Ford unveils facelifted Mustang

Show pony: The updated Ford Mustang gets a classier new look with more body-coloured exterior trim, HID headlights and LED tail-lights.

More tech, cleaner styling for revised Mustang as Ford reveals 320km/h Shelby GT500

17 Nov 2011

THE facelifted Ford Mustang took a bow at the Los Angeles motor show this week ahead of its US showroom debut in the northern spring, featuring updated styling, more on-board technology and a ballistic 320km/h Shelby GT500 variant.

Beefier, more aggressive front-end styling comprises a more prominent, body-coloured upper grille that forms a continuation of the bonnet’s leading edge, complemented by a large mesh lower grille that is also body-coloured and flanked by new air intakes.

Ford has reversed the layout of the Mustang’s headlights, with the front indicators now located at the outer edges and the standard high-intensity discharge (HID) beam units moved closer to the grille to further enhance the more menacing new look.

LED signature lighting is joined at the front by fog lights while at the rear restyled smoked tail-light clusters also employ LED technology.

Mirror-mounted puddle lamps project the Mustang emblem onto the ground when the car is unlocked.

In addition to the colour-matched grille and front bumper, the side skirts are also body-coloured and the rear end has been tidied up with more colour-matching, a faux vent for the numberplate surround and the restyled tail-light clusters linked by a gloss-black panel.

27 center imageLeft: Mustang Boss 302. Below: Shelby GT 500. Bottom: Mustang.

The makeover is garnished by the addition of new alloy wheel designs including polished and painted aluminium finishes in sizes ranging from 17-inch to 19-inch.

Among the technical highlights of the refreshed pony car is a new 4.2-inch instrument panel display featuring an enthusiast-oriented ‘track apps’ function that measures G-forces, acceleration and braking times.

For the first time, the optional six-speed automatic transmission features a manual mode, while manual variants get a hill-hold function.

Two new ‘Shaker’ sound systems in 370W eight-speaker and 550W nine-speaker configurations make it onto the options list, as do Recaro sports seats in cloth or leather upholstery, designed to accommodate occupants wearing crash helmets and with openings for racing harnesses.

Under the bonnet – which on GT variants features functional hot air outlets – the 5.0-litre engine has been warmed-over to produce 313kW, using lessons learned from development of the 331kW Boss 302 variant.

Customers who want more from their Mustang GT but cannot stretch to a Boss 302 can specify the GT Track Package, which provides an engine oil cooler, upgraded radiator, a Torsen limited-slip differential, differential cooler, transmission cooler, 19-inch alloys with summer performance tyres and a Brembo brake package with 356mm front rotors and performance pads.

The even more track-oriented Boss 302 gets new reflective ‘hockey stick’ graphics on its flanks and a new ‘school bus’ yellow paint option to commemorate the 1970 Trans-Am race series-winning Boss 302.

Chief Mustang engineer Dave Pericak said: “Everything we did for 2013 is consistent with and links directly back to our 1970 heritage. The reflective stripes and hockey stick graphic in particular mean something to Mustang enthusiasts.”

Removable fog-light blanks deliver more cooling air to the engine bay, while quad exhausts are a visual reminder of the car’s performance intent, as do the large contrast-coloured rear spoiler and prominent front splitter.

The 331kW 5.0-litre V8 engine also punches out 514Nm of torque and is exclusively linked with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission via a “race-inspired” clutch.

A standard limited-slip differential uses carbon-fibre plates and is claimed to improve handling and longevity, while a Torsen unit is optional.

Sportier handling is achieved by higher-rate coil springs, adjustable dampers and stiffer suspension bushings all round, aided by a fatter rear stabiliser bar and an 11mm lower ride height at the front (1mm lower at the rear).

Exclusive lightweight 19-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli PZero rubber are 9.0 inches wide at the front and 9.5 inches wide at the rear.

Four-piston Brembo brake callipers act on 356mm front rotors, while the standard Mustang GT rear brake set-up is enhanced with the addition of performance pads and the ABS braking system has been recalibrated to offer “maximum control”.

If the Boss 302 is full-fat, the Shelby GT500 is double-cream, with a claimed top speed in excess of 320km/h.

Ford claims the title of the world’s most powerful production V8 for the ballistic 485kW/812Nm supercharged 5.8-litre engine.

A thorough drivetrain revision includes a larger, more efficient new supercharger, new cross-drilled engine block and cylinder heads, updated camshafts and a new carbon-fibre driveshaft linking the upgraded dual-disc clutch and transmission with the revised rear axle.

The engine’s cooling system also got an overhaul, gaining a larger cooling fan plus a 36 per cent bigger heat exchanger volume and high-flow coolant pump for the supercharger.

All that extra power and supercar-rivalling top speed required engineers to optimise the Mustang’s aerodynamics, maximising downforce while minimising drag.

To this end, new downforce-generating front grilles “harness the air moving around and through the car” and work with the gaping front air intakes and modified splitter, which are designed to handle the loads experienced as the car approaches its maximum speed.

Ford says the result of the aero work is “a car that tracks more securely and feels more planted to the road at higher speeds”, and claims the revisions improve aerodynamic load at 257km/h by a third compared with the 2011 model.

Braking performance is provided by six-piston Brembo front brake callipers and larger rotors all round, while 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels wearing Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 tyres provide contact with the road.

Ford’s performance division, SVT, revised the electronic stability control and traction control systems, which can be tailored to the conditions and level of driver skill.

SVT chief engineer Jamal Hameedi said a “completely different” approach was taken with the new car.

“Nearly every system the driver interacts with can be tailored to his or her situation, including the Bilstein electronic adjustable suspension, launch control, AdvanceTrac and steering assist levels.”

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