Ford Mustang GT Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

I'm sitting at a traffic light on a nine-lane road bisecting a blight of car dealers, warehouse eateries and chain stores. My opponent is driving a white Elantra with almost enough body mods to disguise its humble origins, but not quite. I can hear the Hyundai's hamster wheel whining over the top of the Mustang's bellowing V8. Clearly, the Korean whip has about as much chance of outrunning the GT as an octogenarian jogger. And yet Elantra Boy is determined to get it on.

Just in case I needed more proof that EB's tanked-up on stupid pills, he assumes that a changing traffic light means it's his turn– and nearly T-bones an F150. The dope backs up, readying himself for another try. Of course, letting EB go first would be the sensible thing to do. But there's no traffic ahead, and, well, if the Mustang GT wasn't built for an illegal drag race in consumer wasteland, what WAS the point?

The light turns yellow for the lane crossers. EB nails it. I wait for green and follow suit. The Mustang squirms slightly as the P Zero Neros fight for purchase on the silky blacktop. When the GT's traction control system kicks in, the car surges forward with genuine conviction. Pulling up next to the Elantra, I ignore the maxed-out engine sound bouncing around the cabin and the harsh vibrations shaking my stick hand. Experience has taught me that the GT only seems to run out of puff at 4k; there's another 2000rpms of shove before the tach needle kisses the redline.

A moment before changing up, I glance down and see… sweet FA. The speedo is just as illegible as its disco-era inspiration. In contrast, the Mustang's slick shifting five-speed is supremely user-friendly. It's perfectly positioned for major league bang-bang, and snicks home with Honda-like precision. So bang into second, a big squirt of dead dinosaur, and that's all she wrote. I change up into third to seal the deal, but it isn't strictly necessary. EB is history.

And so, of course, is the Ford Mustang. You could no more chronicle America's automotive past without discussing the Ford Mustang than you could list Germany's automotive achievements without mentioning Hitler's Volkswagen. Strangely, thankfully, the new Mustang is no mere evolution of the Pony Car's seemingly endless legacy. No, the GT is a nostalgic Mustang "re-imagining". The new shape combines the best bits of the best versions of the brand's mostly dire design heritage, and throws in a barrel-chested V8 for good measure. In other words, the Mustang GT looks great, sounds like sex and goes like stink.

Maybe that's why the US automotive press is all over the GT like a cheap suit. Or it could be because the Mustang GT costs less than a closet full of Armani slacks. Obviously, it's hard to argue against a sexy-looking car– or any car– that can blast from zero to sixty in a mere 5.4 seconds, do the quarter mile in 13.8 seconds and costs a paltry $27k, all in. Hard, but not impossible. For example, Detroit's hottest coupe is not exactly what you'd call a natural born corner carver.

To keep costs low, the Blue Oval's Bean Counters decreed a continuation of the Mustang's live rear axle. "Live" as in "bouncy". In fact, this set-up virtually guarantees a crap ride and significant traction loss during hard cornering. To their credit, Ford's clever boffins have tweaked the Mustang's Luddite suspension to provide a reasonable ride and minimal wheel hop. Even so, the GT still displays a natural aversion to hard-charging in anything other than a straight line. Fling yourself into a bumpy corner and the Mustang's rear end threatens to fling you right back out.

The problem is exacerbated by a major dose of initial body lean, which is exacerbated by a driving chair that offers less lateral support than a highly polished mahogany bench. Speaking of butt parking, did the Mustang's retro design mandate completely useless rear seats? Or was it a political thing (no legroom left behind)? And is it needlessly PC of me to point out that a Mustang GT at full gallop gulps down a gallon of high test every 15 miles? Or is that simply the price you pay to impress friends and humiliate strangers?

Yup, that sounds about right. The Mustang GT is a born-again muscle car that makes baby boomers feel like they're the cool kid in a fictional 50's high school. The fact that the 'Stang guzzles gas like a 70's land yacht and shimmies around corners like it's on springs (it is) is beside the point. As long the Ford Mustang GT can blow the doors off of the creeps and losers cruising around outside the local hamburger joint, what more could you want?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Gpzkat Gpzkat on Sep 24, 2006

    Right on. Kick that Elantra's butt, yeah! So what if the view over the bulbous hood means you have to park by braille. So what if the majority of the acceleration is mapped to the first millimeter of pedal travel, making it impossible not to sqeal the wheels in a smooth parking lot - that's just heavy power, man! So what if the ass end gets jiggy faster than Paris Hilton's. Why do performance cars in America come with a big asterisk. Motor? We got that. Style? We got that too. For the price, expectations have been met. Let's not talk about handling. Please. What truly disappoints is that these expectations are the same as theyseem to have been in the 60's, when Fords ruled the straights, and Euro mobiles ruled the corners. What's so hard about putting the two together reasonably inexpesively? The WRX does it, but jeez isn't it ugly. Could we graft a Mustang body on a WRX?

  • Zanary Zanary on Oct 23, 2006

    I'm really worried that people know nothing about what they're buying, cars-wise. Anyone familiar with "Pony Cars" knows that they're parts-bin specials...a big motor dropped into a rwd coupe based off of some other car(s) in the brand's stable. These cars rarely get too much specialization or refinement, because they don't need it. The Mustang is about the "Stoplight Grand Prix", looking cool, and being able to build the hell out of it via aftermarket performance bits. You either understand or you don't, but a good many people of all ages do. You want refined performance? Cough up for an M3. You want to have a fast, cool coupe for under 30 large that hits 60 in 5 seconds? Here ya go.

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