Now is rather decidedly a grand time to be a performance enthusiast living in the United States, with each of America’s Big Three offering up at least one laser-focused, sublime track car apiece. From General Motors, we have the supercharged Chevrolet Corvette Z06; from Fiat Chrysler, the aerodynamically-bold Dodge Viper ACR.
From Ford Motor Company, of course, we have the rev-happy Shelby GT350R Mustang.
Obviously, these three track stars are not all equal in terms of price, sensibility, or even intended use. Where the Corvette Z06 is a souped-up road-going sportscar made into a formidable time attack machine, the Viper ACR (“American Club Racing”) is rather the inverse; an uncompromising race car which somehow finds itself on the road. The Shelby GT350R incorporates more road-friendliness and “tourability” than either.
So, how do each of these potent track-ready machines stack up against one another? To find out, Top Gear magazine got their hands on one of each, driving them on the open road in southern California, and around two great American road courses: The Thermal Club, and Willow Springs.
After much deliberation and many miles of road and track driving, Top Gear refused to come out with absolute rankings of each of the US track stars, but the magazine generated no shortage of praise for the Shelby GT350R Mustang. “The bored-out 5.2-litre engine revs like it’s completely free of all friction, the carbon-fibre wheels… and active suspension help the car flick in and out of turns way faster than you thought possible for a muscle car,” wrote Pat Devereux. “It’s easy, fun and accessible, just like a hot pony car should be.”
But married to that performance is a bit more liveability than is offered by the other two cars tested. “You could go touring in this car,” continued Devereux. “And this is where the Stang really scores, being a bit more modest than the other two cars. For all its wings and splitters… it’s still a blue-collar car underneath. It’s Bruce Springsteen in a tracksuit.”
For more, check out the Shelby GT350R in its three-way comparison test on the Top Gear website.