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      01-17-2020, 07:51 PM   #1
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Drove my First GT350: Came Away Incredibly Impressed

So my friend who is a Mustang enthusiast bought a beautiful GT350 last month after years of giving up his last Mustang for family duty with a Highlander, and he let me have a spin in it on some back roads with him in a trip to Pennsylvania and all I have to say is just, wow!

Iíve always liked the Mustang. Iíve never really had any problems with it, but I never really lusted after one or cared too much, being that my love has always been focused on the Germans. I always found them cool, and theyíve looked really good, especially since they went back to the more classic styling around 2005, and I always preferred them to Camaroís, but whenever I drove a GT, I loved the engine, but didnít care for much else. The GT350 changes that.

First, the star of the show, the engine. The 5.2L Naturally-Aspirated Flat Plane Crank V8 is pure magic, which Iím guessing is why this engine was nicknamed the Voodoo V8. It makes all the right noises especially when it reaches its 8250 rpm redline. It is honestly one of the best sounding engines within the last couple of years, up there with the GT3 and other fantastic exhaust notes. The engine is smooth and powerful, with 526 horsepower and 426 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 is in the low 4ís, but being RWD, traction of course is essential to getting that time down, but honestly, who cares about 0-60 times when the car is incredibly fun to drive. A 10-Speed and/or tuned Mustangs may beat it at the drag strip, but the GT350 will bring a much bigger smile on your face than any other current Mustang (other than maybe the GT500).

Looks wise, the car doesnít change too much to the exterior other than a revised bumper, wheels, and rear spoiler, but honestly this current generation of Mustangs are very good looking, so I have no complaints. This car looks mean, and unlike the new Camaro, has no fussy design details. See this in your rear-view mirror and you better move over!

Interior wise, again its typical Mustang. Donít expect German levels of materials and quality, as it definitely has its fare share of plastics, but the seats, which my friend opted for the heated and cooled power leather seats over the Recaro buckets (which are also very comfortable and more supportive for track driving) are still plenty comfortable, and this is coming from someone who doesnít like many of Fordís seats when it comes to comfort. It isnít very bright inside, although it is fairly roomy and controls are very well laid out. For driver settings, thereís a few toggle switches placed by the start/stop button. There's one for exhaust, launch control (which I didn't test) and traction control. The GT350 could probably benefit from the GT's quiet mode startup, as the GT350 can easily wake up your neighbors. On the steering wheel thereís two controls for driving as well, one for steering modes, of which there is normal, comfort and sport, and a damper switch for adjustments. Tech is pretty simple and intuitive, not being overly digital thanks to a nice mix of analogue gauges and a smaller digital screen between the two.

Regarding the driving experience it is fantastic. The steering first of all was a complete surprise. Many Mustangs for years have always had particularly numb steering, but the GT350 has excellent communication and feel in a world of EPS systems devoid of feel. I kept the steering primarily in sport mode as it added some heft without feeling too synthetic and still keeping the excellent feedback from the road. This steering feel is very welcome as it also helps keep your attention to the traction of the vehicle as a whole, as a rear drive vehicle with this much power, can definitely send you sliding, as Mustangs are typically associated with ditches (or crowds). The ratio is nice and quick without feeling overly ďdartyĒ or giving the feeling that it will throw you off the side of the road.

Next is the clutch and gearbox. The 6-Speed Manual Transmission, the only transmission for the GT350, is really nice. Itís a Tremec unit, the TR-3160, and has really great short throws and nice precision when shifting. Its easy to get in and out of gears and doesnít feel clumsy or lifeless in any way. The clutch is also surprisingly light. I didnít mind this, but it is weird that they chose a lighter clutch when Mustangs have typically always had a very heavy clutch, but this means that traffic is a breeze compared to Mustangs of generations past. Regarding clutch engagement it is a bit higher than I would have preferred but I easily got use to it, and in no way worried of stalling the car. I believe that in the GT350 community, many owners typically modify the clutch.

Driving this car on back roads is just a joy. From revving the engine out to its redline, and shifting through gears, especially downshifting and heel-toeing and listening to the V8 sing, this Mustang actually feels like a sports car. It was also refreshing to drive a naturally aspirated engine again too. It didnít have as much torque down low as modern cars of course, but the engine was completely smooth, and turbo lag of course isnít a part of the experience, just smooth power delivery. Thereís a surprising amount of grip too, with minimal body roll, and no where did I feel like I would lose control of the car despite its power, but then again, I probably wasnít pushing the car as much as I could have since it wasnít my car after all. I believe Car and Driver was able to get 1.08Gís during their skid-pad performance testing, which outdid the base Caymanís 1.06 in a comparison test despite weighing 600lbs more. The brakes have nice initial bite with great pedal travel which was very nice after some Mustang GT rentals in which I found the cars to have too much bite, resulting in a less smooth stop. Weighing around 3800lbs, the GT350 is heavier and larger in size than cars such as the M2 Competition or Cayman, but the car still displays excellent handling qualities and doesnít feel portly in any way. Regarding the suspension tuning the car can sometimes feel quite busy at times, but I wouldnít say itís a deal-breaker as this is a raw sports car that is also aimed for track duty. It doesnít settle down as much as other competitors may regarding refinement, but coming from an M2 competition, and years of stiff BMW suspensions, the GT350 didnít bother me. Regarding MPG, I didnít check, but Iím sure based on the way I was driving the car it wasnít good!

Price wise the GT350 starts around $60k and can be had with a few options/packages bringing up the price slightly, as well as a GT350R trim, which serves as a sharper track toy at around $73k. While it doesnít have the luxury interior that the price may suggest, it isnít an unbearable place to be, and you can tell after driving it that all the money went to the right place, that being the powertrain and driving dynamics.

The GT350 has pretty much received critical acclaim from automotive journalists and enthusiasts since the car came out, and after driving one, it isnít hard to tell why. From the moment you start up the glorious Voodoo V8, to shifting at 8250 rpm, and throwing this car through corners, it is truly excellent, and now, for once in my life, I am lusting after a Mustang.

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      01-17-2020, 08:01 PM   #2
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But what about the turbo 4 with PDK for less money....oh wait, different thread. Thanks for the right up, I've been very curious about the GT350 since they came out. I was in Florida a few years ago with my wife on vacay, we were driving through Coco Beach and one blew by us on A1A near the naval air station....oh my god that sound. Damn you for reminding me.
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      01-17-2020, 08:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuastein55 View Post
The car definitely spoiled me, I've been looking up GT350 videos on youtube since I drove it and have been becoming incredibly curious as to making it my next vehicle in a few years. Honestly, if you plan on test driving it, don't bring your wallet with you!
I love my 993 and have been avoiding temptations because I don't want to give it up.
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      01-17-2020, 08:53 PM   #4
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Well written review, thanks for sharing.
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      01-18-2020, 11:50 AM   #5
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The GT350 is one hell of a performance car for the money. Looks great too minus the stripe most have.

That Voodoo motor is a bit of a lemon though and they fail all time. Ford updated the motor in late 2018 because of all the failures but even those are failing too.

I'm shocked to hear you say the motor is smooth. Every auto publication and YT review has noted how aggressively the motor vibrates above 5000rpms to the point that the dash sounds like it's going to fall apart. It's just the nature of a large flat plane V8 and why Ferrari avoided going close to 5 liters on their flat plane motors.
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      01-18-2020, 11:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XutvJet View Post
The GT350 is one hell of a performance car for the money. Looks great too minus the stripe most have.

That Voodoo motor is a bit of a lemon though and they fail all time. Ford updated the motor in late 2018 because of all the failures but even those are failing too.

I'm shocked to hear you say the motor is smooth. Every auto publication and YT review has noted how aggressively the motor vibrates above 5000rpms to the point that the dash sounds like it's going to fall apart. It's just the nature of a large flat plane V8 and why Ferrari avoided going close to 5 liters on their flat plane motors.
When I referred to it in smooth I mainly meant in power delivery due to it being naturally aspirated, I didn't find any issues with it being too coarse, but I didn't expect it to be as refined as say a German product. Surely if I drove it more often I'm sure I would notice more of the issues/vibrations, but I was just having too much fun listening to the exhaust! My friends's GT350 doesn't have too many miles on it so he hasn't experienced any issues with it yet, but the motor is intoxicating!
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      01-18-2020, 11:56 AM   #7
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hate mustangs; but this car looks so darn good
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      01-18-2020, 12:38 PM   #8
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I played around with one when I was considering cars like M4, SS 1LE/ZL1, etc. One big turn-off for me was a 16g gas tank (seriously?) and the interior wasn't to my liking. The skinnier tires was also a turn off, even though they are significantly beefed up from regular mustangs. I will say that the GT350s are finally on the playing field as far as other cars, with reasonable (not crazy unstable) suspension, tires and handling. I went with the 2SS 1LE for it's features and handling and I haven't been disappointed. The voodoo engine is a gem, but there are some serious reliability issues as well. I think it's a good effort for a company that for some reason intentionally handicaps the mustang against the competitors (ridiculously skinny tires, brakes, suspension, etc.). Definitely respsect, especially the GT350R.
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      01-18-2020, 12:44 PM   #9
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It's just too damn heavy, plain and simple.

Make that car 3200 lbs and I'm on board...unless BMW makes the M2 3000 lbs, which it SHOULD be...
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      01-18-2020, 12:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEcho View Post
It's just too damn heavy, plain and simple.

Make that car 3200 lbs and I'm on board...unless BMW makes the M2 3000 lbs, which it SHOULD be...
Trust me, the car handles much better than its weight and size suggest it would.
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      01-18-2020, 01:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuastein55 View Post
Trust me, the car handles much better than its weight and size suggest it would.
Absolutely. Same with the high end Camaros. But damn, the weight is so damn hard on the expendables and the wonder tires they typically put on these cars to generate the numbers, GM is very guilty of this with Camaro. Huge handling numbers thanks to near race spec tires that last 6k miles on the street. Maybe.
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      01-18-2020, 01:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEcho View Post
It's just too damn heavy, plain and simple.

Make that car 3200 lbs and I'm on board...unless BMW makes the M2 3000 lbs, which it SHOULD be...
3200??? A Cayman is heavier, i mean really.

I am so torn on this car, i really want a vert and 2+2 seating for the kids (so Mustang GT or 911 on the table) but damn that engine is just exactly what i want. VERY tempted.
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      01-18-2020, 02:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Alfisti View Post
3200??? A Cayman is heavier, i mean really.

I am so torn on this car, i really want a vert and 2+2 seating for the kids (so Mustang GT or 911 on the table) but damn that engine is just exactly what i want. VERY tempted.
I know exactly how you feel, I love convertibles even though they aren't as structurally strong, and would love something like an M2 vert or GT350 convertible. The closest thing that exists is the M240i convertible, but to find one with a manual transmission is very difficult, and the M4 vert is also harder to find with a stick, plus the hard top adds a lot of weight. The 992 911 is really nice, and I've always wanted one, but the prices of 911's are getting astronomically high, especially with the long options list (passive entry is still an option!).
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      01-18-2020, 02:30 PM   #14
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I am fine with a good AUTO.

Problem i have is roads here are arrow straight so i need the vert to make it more pleasurable. This is the most boring driving city in the world, the first decent road is a solid 3 hours away, maybe more.

M4 would be a very sensible choice but I cannot get over the emotionless engine and lack of drama.
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      01-18-2020, 02:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Alfisti View Post
I am fine with a good AUTO.

Problem i have is roads here are arrow straight so i need the vert to make it more pleasurable. This is the most boring driving city in the world, the first decent road is a solid 3 hours away, maybe more.

M4 would be a very sensible choice but I cannot get over the emotionless engine and lack of drama.
If you can deal with the low-rent interior and the front end styling, I know you can get the Camaro with the 6.2L V8 in both naturally aspirated or supercharged forms in many trim levels starting around $40k. I haven't driven one, but most reviewers say the new Camaro drives more like a sports car and better than that of the Mustang. I think Chevy is also having a lot of deals on the Camaro due to low sales numbers.

The only problem with the Mustang vert or Camaro vert that I have is that the auto transmissions ruin the experience. The manuals are very good in both, but the auto's aren't as good as that of the DCT in F-Chassis M cars, or the ZF8 used in the 240. The Ford and Chevy co-built 10-Speed isn't my favorite from my rental experience with the GT vert. Its in every Mustang trim, and only the ZL1 (6.2 SC) for the Camaro, but it has too many gears and just lacks in engagement, and the plastic paddles are flimsy. I haven't tested the 8AT in the non ZL1 Camaro so it could be better, but for autos nothing beats a DCT or ZF8.
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      01-18-2020, 03:05 PM   #16
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Thanks for the write-up. I came from a 14' Mustang GT Track Pack to a '17 M2, and while I love the handling and crature comforts, I miss the V8 EVERY SINGLE DAY. Once I'm done with the BMW it will be back to V8 land for me.

GT350 and Camaro SS 1LE, along with a C7 Grand Sport are top of the wish list for me. There is something magical about a good, simple NA V8.

I know Camaro 1LE is the odd ball here, not looking as good and with poor visibility. But it matches the GT350 non-R lap times, cost $10k less than the GT350 and is far more available. Plus it has a reliable Corvette engine and Tremec 6-speed manual. So lately I've been gravitating this way more.
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      01-18-2020, 03:49 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by 5.M0NSTER View Post
Thanks for the write-up. I came from a 14' Mustang GT Track Pack to a '17 M2, and while I love the handling and crature comforts, I miss the V8 EVERY SINGLE DAY. Once I'm done with the BMW it will be back to V8 land for me.

GT350 and Camaro SS 1LE, along with a C7 Grand Sport are top of the wish list for me. There is something magical about a good, simple NA V8.

I know Camaro 1LE is the odd ball here, not looking as good and with poor visibility. But it matches the GT350 non-R lap times, cost $10k less than the GT350 and is far more available. Plus it has a reliable Corvette engine and Tremec 6-speed manual. So lately I've been gravitating this way more.
From what I've read it sounds like the Camaro is a really great handling car and a better value than competitors. While I'm not a fan of the looks - mainly the recent refresh which is rumored to be quickly fixed soon - I have always wanted to drive one, especially the ZL1 with the LT4 6.2L Supercharged V8, I fell in love with that engine in the CTS-V.
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      01-18-2020, 05:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuastein55 View Post
Trust me, the car handles much better than its weight and size suggest it would.
It's being forced to. Trust me, I come from the Lotus world, all these cars are pigs to me, including the M2. I'm impressed with technology + huge sticky tires too, but it's not like a real handling car, one that doesn't wear you the hell out after 2 laps. It's like wrangling a rhino.

Oh, and when you lose it, you are REALLY going to lose it with these super heavy cars.
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      01-18-2020, 05:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5.M0NSTER View Post
Thanks for the write-up. I came from a 14' Mustang GT Track Pack to a '17 M2, and while I love the handling and crature comforts, I miss the V8 EVERY SINGLE DAY. Once I'm done with the BMW it will be back to V8 land for me.

GT350 and Camaro SS 1LE, along with a C7 Grand Sport are top of the wish list for me. There is something magical about a good, simple NA V8.

I know Camaro 1LE is the odd ball here, not looking as good and with poor visibility. But it matches the GT350 non-R lap times, cost $10k less than the GT350 and is far more available. Plus it has a reliable Corvette engine and Tremec 6-speed manual. So lately I've been gravitating this way more.
HOW DARE YOU! What about EV's......Greta will not be pleased.....
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      01-18-2020, 08:25 PM   #20
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Yeah no Camaro. Not crazy about the looks and the engine is too big and bottom endish, I prefer the Ford Coyote V8 which likes a few more revs, let alone the VOODOO.
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      01-19-2020, 01:50 AM   #21
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Sweet car, nice write up.

The stellar price-to-performance ratio and my lack of interest in the driving dynamics of modern German cars have me tinkering with the idea of a Mustang. However it's very difficult to leave the interiors and overall build quality of German cars for what's in the Stang.
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      01-19-2020, 08:26 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuastein55 View Post
From what I've read it sounds like the Camaro is a really great handling car and a better value than competitors. While I'm not a fan of the looks - mainly the recent refresh which is rumored to be quickly fixed soon - I have always wanted to drive one, especially the ZL1 with the LT4 6.2L Supercharged V8, I fell in love with that engine in the CTS-V.
I hear you, the 2019 was ugly. 2020 is now out and looks better, though nothing to really write home about compared the GT350.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty Dog View Post
HOW DARE YOU! What about EV's......Greta will not be pleased.....
Haha, I know she would yell at me in German. I'm resisting EVs for as long as it's possible. I think they make great ride sharing cars, but not for my own personal use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfisti View Post
Yeah no Camaro. Not crazy about the looks and the engine is too big and bottom endish, I prefer the Ford Coyote V8 which likes a few more revs, let alone the VOODOO.
I also like the Coyote. My Gen 2 Coyote was tuned and redlined at 7400. The new one go to 7500. Redline on an LT motor is 6500 and I think limiter is 6700. But to be honest every time I ran into a Camaro at Gingerm, Grattan or Mid-Ohio raceways, they always pulled on my on the straights. Even after I was tuned with Steeda CAI.
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