Rivals: Porsche GT3 RS vs. Ford Mustang GT350R vs. Dodge Viper ACR

Take three high-powered and infamous cars, add one day of unlimited track time and see which one takes the podium finish.

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
3 min read
Watch this: Rivals: Ford Mustang GT350R vs. Dodge Viper ACR vs. Porsche GT3 RS

Some folks have money to burn while others live on a strict budget. Today's Roadshow Rivals is for both kinds of people. We took two street-legal race cars and pitted them not just against each other, but also against a more reasonably priced track monster.

The 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, 2016 Porsche GT3 RS and 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R are all desirable cars, but we wanted to see how they stack up against each other. It took a drag race, a thorough look at their interiors and tackling the turns at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan, but we picked our favorite.

Third place: Dodge Viper ACR


Intimidating? You betcha!

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

With a giant wing and enough vents and slices in the bodywork to make a Cutco salesman drool, the Viper ACR scores the second loser place in this Rivals episode. It's packing an 8.4-liter V10 engine, good for 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque, but it weighs just 3,300 pounds.

We found it very compromised on the street. It's uncomfortable and hot and our editors could barely see out of it. However, it shines on the track. Manually adjustable suspension means you can customize it to your liking and grippy Kumho tires help the thing stick to the track.

The Viper certainly gave us a lot of satisfaction when we got a clean lap, but the amount of effort it took to manhandle the thing around the track took it down a few notches.

To keep weight low, there aren't a lot of features in the Viper. The seats are manually adjustable, the carpet is thin and the three-speaker stereo system is far from bumpin'. Expect to pay $134,790 for this piece of bonkers machinery, including fancy paint, carbon fiber bracing and a gas guzzler tax.

Second place: Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R


The Mustang Shelby GT350R is by far the best value of the bunch.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

We tried not to let the Shelby's $62,000 price tag sway us too much, but it's tough when the competition costs twice as much and the Shelby easily keeps up with them. Of the three it's more of an all-around car, one that could be a comfortable daily driver. Well, at least more comfortable than the other two.

The GT350R comes standard without air conditioning, rear seats, carpeting in the trunk or a backup camera, again all in the name of weight savings. Yet at over 3,600 pounds, it's still the heaviest of the three rivals. But power numbers are over that of the Porsche, with the 5.2-liter V8 knocking out 562 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque.

We all loved the roar of the flat-plane crank motor and we cranked that baby up to its 8,200 rpm redline as much as we could. While the Shelby is willing to turn, the steering feels a bit vague and diminished our driving pleasure.

First place: Porsche GT3 RS


The Porsche GT3 RS has it all: power, torque, grip and looks. And a price tag to match.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

It has been said that there is no substitute for a Porsche and in this case, the hype lives up to the experience. The GT3 RS' 4-liter flat six-cylinder engine pumps out 500 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. Those power numbers are the lowest of the three, but this foreigner weighs just a smidge over 3,000 pounds, making it the lightest of the bunch. The GT3 RS not only eked by the Viper in the drag race, we also found it to be the most engaging on the track, thanks to its rear steering and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

What really make the Porsche stand out, aside from its $204,000 price tag, are the steering system and the transmission. None of us are fans of electronic power steering, but Porsche does it just right. The weight is there but more importantly, the system is very talkative, telling you exactly what is happening where the rubber meets the road.

And while we always love manual transmissions, again Porsche has figured out a way to make its PDK transmissions engaging and delightful. Each pull of the paddle shifters brings on a speed-of-light-style shift that thwacks powerfully into the next gear. It's a transmission that means business and we would be glad to pay the price.


The perfect garage?

Nick Miotke/Roadshow