Following on the heels of the re-engineered 2011 Ford Shelby GT500, the boys over at Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT)have added a number of key features and options for the 2012 model.
The most notable are new optional leather-trimmed sport bucket front seats designed by SVT in cooperation with Recaro. Lateral bolsters in the cushion and seat back are used to ensure drivers have the support needed on the track during hard cornering and to deliver a comfortable ride.
“These seats are designed to deliver optimum driver control and comfort,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer. “I have been sitting in them for months now and have never wanted more support or more comfort when driving, even on long road trips or at the racetrack.”
While the seats are similar to those found in the 2012 BOSS 302 Mustang, these seats sport an embroidered “Cobra” logo and stripes that are color-matched to the exterior stripes of the GT-500. They also come complete with integrated head restraints with ample room for drivers and passengers wearing helmets on the track. Openings on the seat back also are included for customers looking to create performance setups for their car on track days.
The Recaro seats are the result of a global team effort led by SVT along with the Mustang engineering group in North America, Team RS in Europe and Recaro.
The other major new deal in the 2012 GT-500 is a selectable steering option that tailors the driving experience to fit their needs. With a choice of three settings, the feature allows the customer to select the steering effort depending on his or her style of driving.
The selectable steering option is available across the entire Mustang lineup for 2012, though on the Shelby GT500 the settings were specifically tuned on both the base car and Performance Package configurations. The assist levels are less than other Mustang models, since the Shelby GT500 customer typically demands more road feel.
“It’s one more feature we’ve developed to tailor the vehicle to fit customers’ likings,” explained Kerry Baldori, SVT global performance vehicle chief functional engineer. “Our engineers have tuned and developed three separate modes so customers can select the one appropriate for almost any situation.”
SVT engineers were able to develop the multiple steering assist levels within selectable steering because of electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), first introduced on the 2011 Shelby GT500. It uses electronic instead of hydraulic components. Engineers also took advantage of EPAS by providing lower efforts for parking and low-speed agility without sacrificing on-road feel.
Sport mode provides the most road force felt through the steering wheel and requires the highest level of steering effort, allowing the driver to be more in tune with how the vehicle reacts to the road. Comfort mode provides the least amount of road force felt through the steering wheel and requires the least amount of steering effort, which is ideal for long, relaxing drives.
Additionally, when the customer selects sport or off mode within AdvanceTrac, Ford’s stability control system, the vehicle automatically switches the steering to the sport mode for improved road feel and higher, more progressive efforts. Also in that mode, active nibble control and drift pull compensation are shut off to give the customer maximum road feel in aggressive driving maneuvers.
Other new features for 2012 include illuminated dual visor vanity mirrors, a universal garage door opener and multipurpose sun visor storage. The 2012 Shelby GT500 also takes connectivity to the next level with SYNC AppLink. AppLink is the free software program that gives SYNC users voice control of apps stored on their smartphone.
The Shelby GT500 will be the first vehicle in the Mustang lineup to offer AppLink with the standard SYNC interface, as well as being integrated into the optional voice-activated Navigation System and providing the additional convenience of an 8-inch touch screen for control.
Additional lightweight soundproofing measures help filter unpleasant, high-frequency noises, while a tuned intake and dual exhaust add the sounds Mustang buyers relish. Occupants also benefit from new door seals and a rear wheel arch liner that reduce road noise for a quieter, more enjoyable drive.
The convertible model also features enhanced structural rigidity, with lateral stiffness improved by 12 percent versus the 2010 model. The 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 is built at the AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.