Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
March 1, 2013

Quick Spin: GT vs. GT500

When a Mustang is fresh and new, it's easy to become enamored of its new features, improved horsepower, and other benefits of modern engineering. It's that sort of love at first drive that we've felt with many of the latest Mustangs. Granted, when it comes to the Coyote- and Trinity-powered 'Stangs, a love fest is deserved. That said, it's always nice to revisit these cars after some time has passed. Not only does it let us compare the stockers with other models, but with modified versions of the same car.

Recently, we went back-to-back in both a 2013 GT and GT500. Normally, our Quick Spin review would focus on one car, but this time around we thought it was worthwhile to compare and contrast the everyday GT with the rarified GT500. Certainly they are different cars for different budgets, but in daily use it’s the nuances that matter.

Our sampling began with the latest Mustang GT, and the Deep Impact Blue example was elegant in its wingless simplicity. The stylistic changes of the ’13, especially the taillights, still resonate with postive vibes, and the optional Recaros are such a huge ugrade in comfort and performance. Likewise the optional Brembo brakes served up plenty of stop.

As much as I enjoy the new GT, my perception of it has changed since spending lots of quality time in Boss 302s. The GT is a fine car, but it is not a Boss. Knowing that sort of performance is available from the same platform makes it harder to fully respect the GT. That said, it’s plenty of car for most people, and it has so much aftermarket upside that it can be modded to exceed the performance of its brawnier siblings. Yet, in it’s stock form the rev limiter comes around way too soon.

Though we aren’t making this a three-way comparison, the Boss is the elephant in the room between these two cars. It is clearly the handler, but the latest GT500 is no slouch there either. Sure it’s heavier, and more powerful, but the GT500 posesses incredible balance for such a muscular car and it can be had with all the toys like the GT, and more.

Obviously the thunderous power of the 5.8 is seductive, but in the real world the GT500 pulled in similar average gas mileage to the GT, and the ability to switch suspension tuning on the fly was a godsend. The Sport suspension pogo'd a bit much for the real world, but switch from Normal to Sport for that big off-ramp, and it was heaven with a TVS whine.

Clearly, if you have the means, the GT500 is the move, but if you like to build them way up, starting with the GT is a great choice. Just to show how much catching up you’ll have to do, we are comparing the dyno numbers here. It’s far from science, as we dyno’d the GT at VMP Tuning and the GT500 at Steeda on different days, but you get the general idea that TiVCT is no match for displacement and a blower.

2013 GT Upshifts: Power Seats
2013 GT Downshifts: Transmission Handling

2013 GT500 Upshifts: Power Transmission Handling
2013 GT500 Downshifts: Price

2013 GT 2013 GT500 GT vs. GT500
RPM Power Torque Power Torque Power Torque
2,500 144.41 303.39 196.50 412.80 52.09 109.41
3,000 180.09 315.29 305.04 534.04 124.95 218.75
3,500 226.16 339.38 363.73 545.82 137.57 206.44
4,500 316.10 368.93 481.81 562.34 165.71 193.41
5,000 337.68 354.71 507.91 533.52 170.23 178.81
5,500 364.15 347.74 532.29 508.30 168.14 160.56
6,000 376.26 329.36 533.67 467.15 157.41 137.79
6,500 388.81 314.16 557.17 450.21 168.36 136.05
6,800 377.75 291.76 557.11 430.30 179.36 138.54