Ford Planning a Mustang to Take on Hellcat and ZL1 in 2018

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Ford plans to add top-shelf muscle to its Mustang lineup and take the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 down a peg.

Spy photos of a camouflaged Mustang variant published by Motor Authority shows a winged, high-performance beast that should appear in 2018. The existing Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is a hot number, but its power output doesn’t measure up to its Detroit competition.

When the 662-horsepower Shelby GT500 bowed out after 2014, Ford found itself with a performance gap. The GT350 makes 526 hp and 429 pounds-feet of torque — no slouch, for sure — but the Hellcat beats it by a mile with its 707 horses. The ZL1, with 650 hp, is another thorn in Mustang’s side.

As we’ve seen with its truck lineup, the Blue Oval doesn’t like coming in second. Power is prestige, as well as PR.

The spy shots don’t tell us anything more than what we can see. The aggressive front end, possibly wider track, and the need for plenty of downforce in the rear definitely means there’ll be more power up front, but how much? No one outside of Ford knows, but it’s rumored that the model might host a twin-turbocharged version of the GT350’s 5.2-liter V8.

Expect to see a 10-speed automatic offered in the new ‘stang. That unit, jointly developed by Ford and General Motors, also finds a home in the ZL1.

To be a true competitor, the new model’s output must beat the ZL1, at the very least. If it ends up undercutting the Hellcat, Ohio’s Lebanon Ford has a solution for any emasculated Mustang driver. As for a name, Mustang could stick with the GT500 badge, though the long-rumored r eturn of the Mach 1 can’t be ruled out.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Mikey Mikey on Aug 07, 2016

    After owning a 2SS Camaro for 18 months, I will never purchase a high powered 6 speed stick again. It was just too much car for me. That being said, its a comfort to know, that such vehicles are still being made for the buyer segment , that feels , for whatever reason, it the car for them. If, like me, they realize , they made a mistake, then another guy comes along, and buys a nice clean low mileage used car.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Aug 07, 2016

      Don't sell it, just detune it to your liking, experience and comfort level. There's these highly advanced, wooden instruments that can be custom fitted, under the carpet and just ahead of the gas pedal. Some call them "2X4" ends, or scrap lumber. 40 to 80 mph blast really do it for me. They suck you deep into the seat back, with jet fighter-like G-forces, as the front lifts, the rear squats and traffic seems like they put it in Reverse. The rest is strictly amateur hour. Except I can handle anything, any high powered car can dish out from a dig, to high speed sideways. Been there, done that. But then again I learned to drift low powered cars before moving up to the high powered ones.

  • Wumpus Wumpus on Aug 07, 2016

    I have to admit that the engineer* in me heard the description of the flat-planed V-8 and thought it would be ideal for a turbo. Any maybe even twin twinscroll turbos that would reduce lag. Two issues: 1. As mentioned repeatedly above, it only makes sense for on-strip drag racing (and make sure you weld in a roll cage or face getting thrown out). Going over 500hp is just silly. 2. Lag is a non-issue because you will only get boost at triple* digit speed (you can spin any non-slick tire without boost at those speeds). You'll get boost when you "need" it, and don't worry about it. * not much of an exaggeration, but I'd guess that most of the "spin wheels at 85mph" in GT350 involves revs that would typically build boost fast. Sure, traditional muscle uses superchargers (and cross-plane V8s), but I doubt the Hellcat and ZL1 do it to avoid lag.

  • Threeer Threeer on Aug 07, 2016

    I think the most fun I ever had was driving my sister's then-new 108 hp CRX Si. Heck, I test drove the 305 hp Mustang and thought it was plenty of power. The 700+hp is truly more than is humanly usable on our roads and is good for settling braggin' rights...:)

  • Shortest Circuit Shortest Circuit on Aug 08, 2016

    If memory serves right every tester and their mother said that the GT500 is at the chassis limit with the power... so they want to add 200 more horses?

    • CoastieLenn CoastieLenn on Aug 08, 2016

      Apples to Oranges. The new Mustang shares virtually nothing with the