“Ain’t that one of them Ay-cord koops?”
“Why, yes it is. Aren’t you sporting the hairstyle commonly referred to as a ‘mullet’?”
“I sure am! Good enough for Brian Bosworth, it’s good enough for me. Is that Ay-cord fast?”
“It has 271 horsepower.”
“Well, shucks! Mah Mustang here done got Three. Oh. Five. Guess it’s faster, cause I don’t think it weighs more than a touch ahead of what you got.”
“Well, the Accord is also rated for twenty-eight miles per gallon on the highway. Much better than that Mustang. It’s important to conserve the planet’s resources.”
“Aw, hell. Guess you’re right. I mean, I’m only GITTIN’ THIRTY-ONE! YEE HAA!” And we close with the sound of a Flat Rock-fashioned burnout. End scene.
Forget the Challenger V-6. It’s heavy, crippled by an antiquated transmission, and severely down on power. And forget the Camaro V-6; the car once championed as the musclecar for the smart set looks distinctly porky at nearly four hundred pounds above the Mustang’s curb weight of 3,459. Ford’s after bigger game, and while the Accord Coupe was mentioned early and often during the media briefing, I suspect the real target of this stalking horse is the Hyundai Genesis.
The Genesis has proven to be rather popular with young people who don’t much care for the eight-cylinder engine and its attendant social baggage. It’s the ponycar for the twenty-first century, as important to some people as the original Mustang was in 1964. Except, of course, for the fact that this new Mustang is superior in virtually every respect, from interior quality to high-speed handling.
Oh, yes. I would disappoint the fine readers of TTAC if I didn’t run out to America’s mean streets for a bit of the old ultraviolence, and I do not mean to disappoint. I aim to misbehave. And I certainly did, aided by a six-speed manual, a 7000-rpm redline, and a limited-slip differential.
The results were more than surprising. After forty-plus years of being a consolation prize, the six-cylinder Mustang has finally found its voice. No, it’s not a charming engine, at least not compared to the bellowing five-liter with which it will share showroom-floor space, but it revs with abandon and chirps the rear wheels in third gear. Triple digits are less than fourteen seconds away at any moment.
When it’s time to slow the car, I’d recommend using your time machine and going back in time to choose the Performance Pack, which adds the suspension and brake pads from last years’s Mustang GT Track Pack. No car at this price level ($22,995, since you asked) will have brakes that are truly good enough. If you want twenty fade-free laps of VIR, I’d suggest purchasing a Boxster 2.7. Just be careful when you see the Mustang behind you on the long back straight., because you won’t have the pull to hold it off.
Through the infamous canyon roads surrounding Los Angeles, I regularly stretched out my perception and ran this Civic-priced Mustang at a pace traditionally reserved for the likes of BMW’s 335i. It’s plenty fast, and the light nose makes it a subtle handler. Ford’s introduced EPAS this year in the Mustang, and while some of the wannabes in the press will no doubt criticize the feel at the wheel, there’s enough information to do fast work.
Through undulating high-speed sweepers, I identified the pony’s biggest problem: lack of rebound damping. It’s so damned fast, and the front end bites so well, that it’s possible to really unsettle the rear and send it skyward. It’s not the fault of the axle, because the five-liter doesn’t suffer from the same issue. Come to think of it, the Performance Package car, which I couldn’t drive under identical conditions, might not have the problem either. On the positive side, the car rides well enough.
To get the most from your Mustang, you will want to punch the option chads until you clear the $30,000 mark. Doing that will obtain such goodies as Bimmer-style brown leather seating, a full aluminum interior which would probably cost five grand in a 911, and Ford’s sublime SYNC system. Thirty Gs for a six-cylinder Mustang? It sounds crazy, but the Hyundai isn’t much cheaper, and a similarly equipped Camaro actually costs more.
This car is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s ridiculous to think that the emotional needs of Accord Coupe buyers can be met by a snorting pony. Still, for those willing to look beyond the stereotypes, the Mustang is rapid, economical, and amusing to drive. It’s worth a look for almost any $25,000 import intender out there. If your neighbors worry that you’ve become Joe Dirt, show ‘em the EPA sticker and explain that you’ve become, ahem, Al Green.