2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang to Feature Automatic Transmission
It should be noted that the Road & Track video showing what is believed to be the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 obviously didn’t come with any official information. However, you can hear the Mustang shift in the video and it is hard to imagine that shifts this smooth and sharp could have come via a manual transmission. It is possible – but not very likely – so it certainly sounds like this Shelby Mustang has a quick shifting automatic transmission.
It should also be noted that the car shown could be some special package that isn’t planned for production, so this might not be the next generation Shelby Mustang at all – but it makes far more sense for this car to be the 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang…one with an automatic transmission. Click here for a closer look at my initial piece on the Road & Track video.
Why an Automatic Transmission?
There are a handful of practical reasons why the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang can benefit from having a self-shifting transmission, but the biggest reason for the addition of an automatic transmission to the top of the line Mustang package rests in the fact that both of the GT350’s biggest competitors have an automatic transmission. Both the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the upcoming 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat come with an automatic transmission option and with the ever growing number of people who want a high performance car without having the coordination to drive a manual transmission; the 2016 Mustang GT350 will have an automatic transmission simply to keep up with the Joneses.
Fortunately, the advancements in automatic transmission technology over the past decade has allowed many high performance vehicles to offer very comparable performance levels between the manual and automatic transmissions so there will be little compromise with the self shifting 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang. Just ten years ago, manual transmissions were the obvious choice for high performance models because automatic transmissions didn’t allow enough control, they couldn’t shift quickly enough and they ate up too much power between the engine and the wheels.
However, the modern automatic transmissions absorb far less power while also offering precision control and lightning quick shifts so you can have a performance car that has the ability to shift on its own without compromising a whole lot of performance.
The 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 should have an automatic transmission option because, frankly, there is no reason NOT to offer one. Some people will hate it – but those people can all buy manual transmission models. Those who do pick the automatic will likely benefit from a great many features that you cannot get from the manual transmission including improved performance (in some situations), lower gas guzzler taxes (or no gas guzzler tax) and improved fuel economy.
The Practical Reasons for an Automatic Shelby Mustang
There are a variety of aspects of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat with the new heavy duty 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that helps show with the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang should also have a self shifting gear box.
First, the 707 horsepower Challenger with the 8-speed automatic transmission offers better fuel economy on the highway, which allows Chrysler hit the consumer with a smaller gas guzzler tax – a cool grand less. Most people who buy ultra high performance muscle cars don’t care all that much about fuel economy but realistically, if you can get the same levels of performance and improved fuel economy, why not… right? Also, that better fuel economy allows for a lower gas guzzler tax which, in Ford’s case, could help ensure that there is no gas guzzler tax at all.
Second – and most importantly - there is a chance that the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang with an automatic transmission could offer better performance for many drivers than a manual transmission. While the manual transmission puts more power to the wheels, an automatic transmission like Chrysler’s new 8-speed allows for steeper gear ratios in the numerically lower gears along with smaller gaps between the gears that lead to even quicker shifts.
These modern high performance automatic transmissions offer quicker shifts than most drivers can achieve with a manual transmission so all out acceleration times are quicker – while also being more accessible for the average driver. At the recent Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat media launch, there were drivers with NO drag racing experience running in the low 12s with the automatic Hellcat. This would obviously not be possible with a manual transmission as the manual models are far more challenging (no pun intended) to get away from the line and down the track smoothly.
We can expect to learn more about the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 after the formal launch of the 2015 Ford Mustang lineup – possibly as soon as the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Image above captured from the embedded Road & Track video.