When we last met the 2019 Shelby GT350, It was at Michigan’s M1 Concourse Speedway in Pontiac, Michigan where we had the chance to experience some of the track focused charms that this delectable serpent brings to the lucky buyers that can add one to their garage. However, a notable absence was its upgraded sibling the GT350R. Ford has rectified that wrong, and has formally unveiled the 2020 Shelby GT350R which not only benefits from Ford’s track experience, but also pulls a few plays out of the GT500 playbook.
Buyers looking for a radical styling evolution will not find it here, instead, the GT350R retains a lot of the exterior flair that already defines the standard GT350 and the last iteration of the R. However, like before, minor exterior differences such as the bigger rear wing, model exclusive red cobra badges, as well as model exclusive wheel choices help the uprated serpent stand out from the lesser animals on display at Ford’s zoo of performance. A more notable change however is that buyers can now order the GT350R with either Twister Orange or Grabber Lime paint. These two hues originally made their debut on the hotter GT500, and Ford has said in the past that they would eventually trickle down to other Shelby models to help light a fire in the GT350’s color configurator. Look for these two colors to also grab the attention of curious bystanders just in case the engine’s impressive soundtrack does not do the job. Iconic Silver and Red Hot Metallic are the other two colors in the lineup, but don’t be surprised if they don’t attract as much attention as their more vibrant counterparts. The wheels, front splitter, and the rear spoiler are made out of carbon fiber with each component designed to not only shed weight, but also look quite stylish at the same time. Lastly, buyers can also add optional red pinstriping to help match the red colored badges, and red interior accents but Ford chose not to formally show them in its release.
The interior is also largely carried over from its lesser sibling, with the 2020 GT350R still retaining a performance focused motif that also blends in a subtle degree of comfort for times when the GT350R is tasked with traditional urban commuting. A big change is the addition of Ford’s Ford Pass Connect system that allows owners to use a phone app to not only find the car, but also locking or unlocking the doors, monitoring fuel and oil levels, as well as receiving and following maintenance alerts. Along with these touches, R models come equipped with a healthy dose of red accents, and the useless rear seat gets pitched to help shave some excess weight.
Power for the GT350R largely carries over from what we have already seen in the rest of the GT350 range with the naturally aspirated 5.2 liter flat plane crank V8 still producing 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the GT500 which will appear with a dual-clutch automatic as its sole means of rowing through the gears, both the GT350 and the GT350R will continue to offer a six speed manual transmission as the sole choice. When asked about this decision at the GT350’s press launch in Pontiac, Ford reps claimed that they wanted to give the car a distinctive driving experience, and retain the high levels of driver involvement that the GT350 brings to the table. The exhaust system ditches some of its resonators to help save weight, but a side effect of this is an enhanced soundtrack that makes the engine roar with confidence.
The key changes though are found in the front suspension which has been heavily reworked for R duty. It is in this particular area where the GT500’s influence really comes into play. The high trailing steering knuckle for example is the same one that is used in the 760 horsepower GT500, while the steering rack and the electronic steering booster have also been improved for track use. Look for these revisions to also enhance and possibly eliminate the front end tram lining that plagues the standard GT350 when it is taken out on the open road.
Until the GT500 thunders its way into the muscle car wars, the GT350R will be the baddest and most track capable Mustang on the market. As such, look for pricing to reflect the extra amounts of performance on hand, with buyers possibly paying a slightly higher fee for admission that the $67,135 base price wielded by the 2019 GT350R.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.