Outrageous. Over-the-top. Completely ludicrous. Believe it or not, such descriptions of the Shelby GT500 aren’t hyperbole. Recently updated along with its convertible sibling, the GT500 packs a 662-horsepower V8 that’s officially the most powerful eight-cylinder production engine ever made.

Thanks in part to a TVS series 2300 (2.3-liter) supercharger that provides 14.0 psi of maximum boost, the 5.8-liter V8 is also able to crank out no less than 631 lb-ft of torque. An impressive 395 lb-ft are available just off idle at 1,000rpm, making the GT500 an ideal burnout machine, and more 90 percent of the car’s torque is available in the 2,200 to 5,800 rpm range.

Packing all of that muscle into the Shelby’s updated body results in a top speed of 202 mph. The benchmark zero-to-60 mph sprint takes just 3.5 seconds, while the quarter-mile flies by in 11.8 seconds.

Don’t think that the new V8 is a one-trick pony – rated at a respectable 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, it manages to avoid the gas-guzzler tax and is the most efficient engine with over 550 horsepower in America.

Unlike some its competitors, the GT500 isn’t offered with an automatic gearbox. Shifting duties are handled exclusively by a tradition six-speed manual transmission, which features increased torque and rpm capacity thanks to its dual-disc clutch design.

How does the GT500 manage its traction problem?
Of course, when a vehicle sends 600 horsepower to the pavement through just two wheels, traction management becomes a serious concern, and Ford has dealt with the situation by adding more than just new gearing. A defeatable launch control system has been developed that allows drivers high levels of control, permitting specific rpm launch points to be chosen based on elevation, tire and street temperature and other variables. This system is fully unique to the SVT lineup and is incorporated into both the engine control and traction control systems.

There is also a Torsen limited-slip differential that comes with the optional Performance Package, something Ford says helps even further to deliver maximum power output to the ground. Rounding out the driving dynamic upgrades are tweaks to the AdvanceTrac system, which now features appropriately adjusted steering assist levels based on the changes to the car.

To bring this nearly two-ton beast to a stop, Ford installed a Brembo brake system that utilizes six-piston calipers in the front, along with larger front and rear rotors. Also part of the stopping equation are wheels and tires, to which the latest Shelby GT500 offers two sets of forged-aluminum wheels including a unique wheel for cars with the optional packages. The 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels are coupled with Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires on all vehicle configurations.

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