Review: 2010 Ford Mustang GT, Take Two

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC writer Samir Syed was on the lamb last night, cooked by yours truly. To honor the dead sheep’s spirit, Sam brought by a rented Ford Mustang GT. For some reason, I never got ’round to driving Ford’s latest Pony Car, what with the world’s largest bankruptcy looming on the editorial horizon and my step-daughter’s after-school activities ending for the term. Anyway, the car in which I was about to go roaming in the gloaming embodied its designers’ desire to re-infuse the ’Stang with some understated classicism—while attempting to add a bit of visual drama (swage much?). Other than a hideously overwrought rear, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the result. Not to put fine a point on it (so to speak), the new Mustang doesn’t give me wood. Still, personal fertility and automotive blue pill issues aside, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

The new Mustang’s new interior is pleasant enough. If that sounds like I’m damning the ’Stang with faint praise, it’s because I am. The Mustang’s cockpit is an excellent example a car cabin where pleasing shapes and ergonomic excellence try their level best to hide the fact that Polly Pocket’s Playhouse is fashioned from finer stuff. Pushing and prodding the Mustang’s IP, grabbing a shifter whose solidity is beyond reproach (and not in a good way), it was not the last time I was left thinking, well, at the right price, I wouldn’t complain. Much.

Right off the bat, the ’Stang lacks the one thing that renders any critical judgment moot: the burble. It’s what made Christine evil. It’s what made the last gen M5 Bavarian crack. It’s what entices you out of the office and onto the road. Not here. Sure, poke the Mustang’s 4.6-liter V8 with a stick (or better yet, the gas pedal), and the Ford powerplant growls soon enough. In fact, too soon. Like a V8-engined AMG product, the Mustang roars at the slightest provocation, a couple of beats before the car can pick up its skirts and run. The new Mustang only sounds like it’s fully realized at full chat. And how often is that going to happen?

Hopefully, not often. I say this knowing that there are those of you who will enjoy caning the new Mustang GT for the same reason I wouldn’t recommend it: the car is a handful. By that I mean, the new Mustang wants to jump sideways. An experienced driver can feel it even at slow speeds: the live rear axle’s disinclination to keep all four wheels on the ground at the same time, all the time. Cane the Mustang at speed over a badly broken surface and you’re pavement surfing; sawing at the wheel has about as much impact on your direction as your choice of interior lighting color. Rendezvous with a large bump mid-corner and it’s like country music line dancing—only you’re hopping towards objects that can kill you dead.

Real men and experienced Mustang GT drivers know the drill: sit it out. When it’s over, recover your confidence by applying copious quantities of horse power in more grip-friendly situations. Short of doing the right thing—fitting the pony car with an independent rear suspension—Ford’s engineers have done a good thing. The new Mustang GT feels significantly stiffer and more predictable (i.e., better at not scaring the shit out of me) than the old one. It’s also better built. More comfortable. Slightly better looking. But taken as whole, I found the new Mustang GT a distinctly underwhelming experience.

Don’t get me wrong: the new Mustang GT does exactly what it should do. It’s an authentic continuation of a popular model that delivers significant bang-for-the-buck. Owners of the previous generation will make the switch to the new car and revel in what Ford under CEO Alan Mulally has wrought. And now that the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro are being built (or not) by bankrupt companies, the way is clear for the Mustang to continue and extend its reign as the last muscle car standing. And yet . . .

Ford seems hell bent on being a jack of all trades, master of none. The new Mustang GT reminds of nothing so much as the Honda Accord coupe: a car that does everything you expect it to do without ever doing anything that makes you really want it. Driving around in the GT, I can almost hear Ford engineers ticking off boxes on a muscle car check list. What Ford in general and the Mustang GT in specific need is a gotta-have-it killer app. It could’ve been the interior, or the engine sound, or the handling, or a paddle shift transmission system or something. Something that would appeal to the Mustang GT’s driver’s nether regions. As it is, the Mustang GT’s a hit without a hook.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.