“Better” is the operative word when describing the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500. Better horsepower. Better torque. Better handling. Better interior. And, yes, better fuel economy.

“The 2010 Shelby GT500 picks up an additional 40 horsepower and 30 ft.-lb. of torque over the outgoing model, and has better fuel mileage as well,” said Kerry Baldori, chief functional engineer for Ford’s Special Vehicles Team. “That’s a huge win-win for our customers.”

Certification testing shows the 2010 Shelby GT500 improves 2 mpg in highway conditions compared to the outgoing model, with ratings of 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Changes to the top gears, which were made taller, are a key reason for the improvement.

Ford Shelby GT500 (Image: Ford)

Ford Shelby GT500 (Image: Ford)

Refinements to the supercharged and intercooled 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 engine’s calibration and improvements to the cold-air intake system help increase the performance on the 2010 Shelby GT500. The engine calibration now features a dual-knock sensor system instead of a single-knock sensor, improving the efficiency of the engine by making better use of the fuel provided. The cold-air intake system makes sure cold air is directly fed to the engine under all circumstances, whether on the street or on the track, to give customers maximum power. The redline is 6,250 rpm.

“Where you really feel the new power and torque is mid-range,” said Baldori. “The new Shelby GT500 produces more torque than the outgoing model at 3,000 rpm and never looks back.”

Gains made on the special 40th anniversary edition Shelby GT500KR’s cold-air induction system are part of the 2010 Shelby GT500’s package as well. Attention was given to the hood blanket to form a tight seal in the area around the induction system and open air filter element.

The additional power in the 2010 Shelby GT500 is easier to handle thanks to improvements to the twin-disk clutch system on the 6-speed manual transmission. The twin disks are a larger diameter – up from 215 mm to 250 mm – are more robust and now made of copper and fiberglass.

“If you went with one disk, the torque output of the 2010 Shelby GT500 would require that disk to be very large,” said Baldori. “The twin-disk system allows us to get the required surface area in a smaller package. Having two disks also lowers the inertia compared with one large disk, which improves drivability.”

The intermediate disk, rather than floating, has six straps that control the engagement of the clutch, improving drivability, and a dampener reduces gear clash and gear rattle noises. The overall result is that clutch efforts are dramatically lower while clutch engagement is smoother.

“The ability to launch is much easier,” said John Pfeiffer, product development engineer. “You can jump in the 2010 Shelby GT500 and rip off 4.3 (0 to 60 mph times) without any practice, on your way to a 0-100 time of 9.4 seconds.”

When not on track, customers of the 2010 Shelby GT500 will benefit from improved highway fuel mileage after improvement to the six-speed gearbox. Fifth gear changes from .80 to .74 while sixth gear goes from .63 to .50. “Our final drive ratio went from 3.31 to 3.55,” said Pfeiffer. “That extra power, torque and gear ratio makes gears one through four more performance-oriented, while fifth and sixth gears gives you fuel economy.”