Quick Comparison: BMW M2 Vs. Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

At first blush, the BMW M2 and Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 are unlikely rivals and have very little in common.

The former is a small, European coupe, the latter a big, all-American muscle machine with two more cylinders and a lot more displacement. But if you take a moment to really compare these two cars, you’ll soon learn that they’re prime adversaries, even if they have a number of significant differences. Which one do we prefer? Well, it’s tough to pick a favorite.

SEE ALSO: Audi RS 5 vs. Lexus RC F

The M2 is a fine performance machine, one that marks BMW’s return to its roots of building no-nonsense, driver-focused cars. Finally, a model from Munich that enthusiasts can be proud of, not another over-styled, overweight crossover monstrosity.

As for the Shelby, it’s a high-winding take on the traditional Mustang formula. It features rear-wheel drive, advanced adjustable dampers and a burly V8 engine, one that sports a flat-plane crank and spins past 8,000 rpm!

Poetry in Motion

Starting with the M2, its incredible refinement is betrayed after half a block of driving. Whether you’re commuting to work or bombing around a track, every bit of this car feels like it was thoughtfully and comprehensively engineered.

Certainly, one part of it that received more than its share of attention is found just ahead of the driver’s knees. This BMW’s 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine is an absolute sweetheart, blitzing from idle to redline with less vibration than an electric motor.

Thanks to turbocharging and direct injection, it pushes out an impressive 365 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque. An overboost function increases the latter figure by 27 for short bursts. Sparing you unnecessary math, that brings the total to 370 lb-ft.

The top-end power this engine offers is incredible; it pulls with shocking authority clear to its upper limits. In fact, it’s muscular enough to propel the M2 from a standstill to 60 miles an hour in just 4.3 seconds, or a scant 4.1 if you opt for the available dual-clutch automatic transmission.

But why would you want that? The manual gearbox is perfect, with a shifter that’s light to the touch and more fluid than the Danube River; there’s even an automatic rev-matching feature that makes even the most unskilled drivers look like Lewis Hamilton. On top of this, the car’s clutch is nicely weighted and easy to modulate, attributes that make driving the M2 as easy as putting on pants.

Directional changes are made via a meaty, leather-wrapped steering wheel. This interface element is a little light to the touch but, like the shifter, accuracy is one of its most valuable assets as it allows you to place the M2 within fractions of an inch of where you want it to go.

Compare Specs

Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Vehicle BMW M2 Advantage Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Engine3.0-liter turbo I6-5.2-liter V8
Horsepower365Shelby GT350529
Torque 370 lb-ftShelby GT350426 lb-ft
Transmission Six-speed manual-Six-speed manual
Curb Weight 3,450 lbM23,791 lb
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG)21 combinedM216 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km)11.4 combinedM214.6 combined
US Price (As-Tested)$54,495M2$56,970
CAN Price (As-Tested)$72,553M2$75,838

Hang on Tight!

That level of precision is a little tough to come by in the Shelby GT350 because this rarified Mustang feels miles wider than the BMW and nearly twice as heavy. In reality, it’s less than four bills more massive, clocking in at 3,791 pounds with the optional track package compared to 3,450 for an M2 with a stick.

No, Dearborn’s best doesn’t offer the same nimbleness or handling intuition as its German rival — dense best describes the Shelby’s steering — but this doesn’t mean the car lacks its own unique advantages. In fact, the biggest plus it offers will make your hair stand on end every time you paw the start button.

This car’s main draw is a 5.2-liter V8 that brandishes a flat-plane crankshaft, engineering black magic that significantly reduces the rotating assembly’s mass, providing faster acceleration and better overall performance. This change, along with countless others compared to a standard Coyote V8, makes a world of difference, blowing us away with a 526-horsepower stampede and 429 lb-ft of torque.

What those numbers don’t convey is just how eager this engine is; it feels more energetic than a littler of Labrador puppies that were just fed coffee grounds. Remarkably flexible in normal driving, this V8 nonetheless explodes at the top end, pushing you back into your seat with a determined heave as the tachometer needle sweeps past seven grand on its way to a heady 8,250-rpm redline. Whoa, is this a Mustang or a Ferrari? Even the most knowledgeable enthusiast probably couldn’t tell the difference riding shotgun while blindfolded.

In addition to insane top-end pull, the Shelby’s power delivery is linear and smooth, with scarcely any discernable dips or peaks. This engine is a masterpiece, one that’s mighty enough to propel the GT350 to 60 miles an hour in just 4.3 seconds, a time that’s aided by a slick Tremec TR-3160 six-speed shift-it-yourself transmission that’s even easier to manage than the M2’s offering. The clutch’s weighting and engagement range are as close to perfect as could ever be achieved by human engineers.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: 10 Things You Learn While Driving the Beast

Which Car Wins?

Both the M2 and GT350 are world-class products that deliver plenty of smiles per gallon, but which one claims victory in this Quick Comparison? Well, much like voting in Florida on election night, it’s too close to call.

We simply can’t decide which is a better choice, as we love each of them for different reasons. The BMW is a joy to drive, refined, civilized and nearly telepathic. But the Mustang’s wailing engine, scary speed, and sexy styling are just as easy to fall for. That may sound like a copout, but luckily, you can’t go wrong with either one.

Discuss this story on our BMW 2 Series or Ford Mustang Forums

BMW M2, Shelby GT350


  • Floats like a butterfly
  • Silky-smooth engine
  • Intuitive dynamics
  • Perfect shifter
  • Infinite braking performance
  • Speedy Acceleration
  • That unholy warble
  • Seductive Styling


  • Not as special as the Shelby
  • Bland exterior styling
  • Pretty thirsty
  • Drives big
Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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2 of 6 comments
  • Jonny_Vancouver Jonny_Vancouver on Jan 03, 2017

    A tough choice, but in the end I'd go with the BMW. Thanks guys for including the CAN price! much love from Canada.

  • Alpin Thueson Alpin Thueson on Apr 11, 2017

    Within the past year I spoke with an ex-BMW owner who stated his battery went flat and required a road service jump. He stated they (road service) weren't allowed to attempt a jump start and the car had to be towed to an authorized dealer to have the 'electrical system reset' - can someone shed some light on this?