It’s not all about power—but it plays a big role
The varied field of our 2020 Automobile All-Stars contenders proves we live in very strange automotive times. All of these disparate cars convened on equal proving grounds, each bringing different strengths to the tarmac while remaining quite distinct from each other. All-Stars also created an environment of fundamentally incompatible pairings that slowly—over time—began to make a worrying amount of sense.
Take, for instance, the victory of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 over the Lamborghini Huracan Evo on the All-Stars ballot. The very idea of pitting a Mustang of any caliber against a Lamborghini of the same vintage may seem strange today, but doing so in the 2000s would incite ridicule; in the 1980s you’d run the risk of inviting written death threats; and in the 1960s, you might be committed against your will.
Thank goodness we’ve moved on from those dark days when the hottest of hot Fox-body Mustangs sported a heady 235 horsepower. Now, the ongoing horsepower wars have all but closed the performance gap between Italy and Detroit, both regions spawning track weapons that shoot far, far past the 600-hp mark and eclipse the driving skills of the average buyer.
Visually, aurally, and spiritually, the Huracan Evo should have left the Mustang spinning its wheels at the dragstrip Christmas tree. While it’s not close to the top of the Lambo heap, the Evo is one of the sweeter spots in Sant’agata’s lineup, offering the best bits of the mighty Huracan Performante without much of the downsides. Surprise, surprise—power is up from that 5.2-liter naturally-aspirated V-10, now 631 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque thanks to refined exhaust and software mapping from big-brother Performante. There’s extra hardware to manage all this hotness, including magnetorheological dampers and both variable-ratio and rear-wheel steering. All this, wrapped in a shape that looks more like a hyperspace escape pod than a car from this millennia.
Even with all of this extra firepower and two additional cylinders, it was a wet match in a rainstorm next to the GT500’s pavement-cracking 760 hp and 650 lb-ft. Ford affectionately nicknamed the GT500’s supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 “Predator,” an apt name for the most powerful mechanical heart in attendance for All-Stars this year. In fact, if it wasn’t for the 789-hp Ferrari 812 Superfast at last year’s edition, the GT500 would be the most powerful car we’ve ever had at All-Stars.
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It wasn’t just raw, explosive brawn; the GT500 is nearly as clever as the fancy European, matching the Lambo for dual-clutch transmission (a Mustang first) and magnetorheological dampers. This, coupled with a spectacular chassis and brutally handsome good looks, meant even the Huracan Evo couldn’t match the GT500’s blend of pirouetting poise and throat-chop power on either track or road. Really, nothing in attendance short of perhaps the Ferrari F8 Tributo could go nose-to-nose with the GT500 for raw capability. To top it off, the GT500 comes in with a price less than six-figures—if you go easy on the options.