The king of the pony cars…at one point or another
Welcome to our ‘BoldDrive’ (review) of the Ford Mustang GT! We’re excited to get more reviews out to you, the readers. We’re trying a new format, we rate each car from 1-100% based on five factors: performance, interior, exterior, practicality and of course, fun. We average the score and get our ranking for each new car we review, making it easier for our readers to get a feel for how the car really is. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the drive!
I’ll be honest, I never grew up with the fond memories of a Ford Mustang or a Chevy Chevelle or a Plymouth Barracuda or any other classic as I lay belly up in my oil-stained garage. One, because it was a wee bit before my time, and two, because my father was never the gearhead that everyone else’s father was, per se. Although, he did snag an early 90s V6 Mustang which I found neither here nor there.
But why am I telling you all this? Well, because unlike most everyone, I have no nostalgic memories of the roaring V8 of a Mustang GT, nor the remembrance of a Sunday stroll with the top down on my dad’s ’68 convertible; thus, I have no love or hate towards the Mustang in any sense, I have no positive or negative opinion of the muscle car in general, and as such, I have to review it accordingly (as I do with every vehicle). With that said, at this point, Mustang faithful might want to go turn on a NASCAR race or something. It’s going to get a bit hairy.
Welcome to 2006, where these brand new Mustangs will have the same interior parts come seven years time. Loads of cheap plastic, ‘parts bin’ knobs, a stereo system from before Timberlake was the best-known Justin on the planet (aside from Sirius Satellite, which was pretty neat), loose wires hanging from the rear window defroster and did I mention cheap plastic? Loads of it.
It was all sort of disappointing. You would expect on a $40K car (GT Track Package), that it would bear at minimum a standard Bluetooth, and high-quality materials as seen in the Focus ST and others. But sadly, no.
What was available though, was the addition of Recaro seats- previously only present on the Boss 302, a nifty monitor in-between the speedo and odometer reading out fuel economy, customization options and such, and of course, the dreaded SYNC voice command system, which again, was beyond fussy.
On the outside the Mustang looks…like a Mustang. There’s no two ways about it. Since the 60s it’s been heralded as one of the most iconic designs around and continues on until today. Unfortunately, like other ‘retro’ cars, that ‘retro’ design is beginning to age as gracefully as a Joan Rivers; but, the idea of the retro muscle car is still one that appeals to many a buyers, so we credit them that.
Up front, the massive V8 does command much of the attention paired to an awkwardly molded rear end (mine came without a spoiler) and sharper taillights. The grille-mounted fog lights were also a nice touch, differentiating it from lower-spec Mustangs. The “Deep Impact Blue” paint scheme was very attractive, the massive 19-inch wheels and snug Brembo brakes also added a smooth breeze of finesse.
As you would expect, this is where the 5.0 shines, sort of. The 420-hp from the 5.0L V8 is unparalleled in terms of sheer grunt. It’s powerful, it’s massive and it had me continuously grinning form ear to ear. And paired to a rough-and-rigid six-speed manual, it made for some good ‘ol fashion tire burning goodness.
Unfortunately, all this beautiful power somehow fell victim to one of the most outdated and underperforming suspensions of all time. Absolutely horrid. Corners? Don’t even think about it. The solid live axle seems more commonplace in a scrapyard then it does in the current Mustang GT, or any vehicle for that matter.
Of course, practicality is not something that you look for in a $40K, 5.0L V8 muscle car. The engine is thirsty- we kept it at about 17.5 MPG although it will do a bit more- the seating arrangement is uncomfortable (front and back) and the angles are ridiculous. Not a bad thing, just, not practical in any sense of the word. Although, the trunk did have more room than I would have expected, for bodies and such.
More fun than a barrel of monkeys is an understatement; that powerful V8 and a relatively antiquated manual transmission make it a bit more of a bitch to drive than usual, but it does put yourself more at one with the car. From a controlled dig, grip lets off at about 4,000 rpm, which is unexpected yet surprisingly easy to manage.
With all this power sent to the rear wheels (of course), and traction control off, it also makes it easy to slip and slide around on wet pavement like a bar of jailhouse soap, which we did so.
From the outside looking in, the Mustang is an extremely fun car, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find loads of issues with interior work, suspension and overall refinement. I know I might be pulling at strings here, but if you caught the fellas on a previous episode of this season’s Top Gear (whom are surprisingly more accurate than one would expect), Jeremy Clarkson drove the Shelby GT500 across France and Italy, and this is what he had to say:
“This is like an old Escort; the noise and the vibration and the harshness, it is exhausting” and James May went on to add, “They (Mustangs) simply aren’t as thoroughly engineered as cars from the civilized world.”
Absolutely. Unlike the Euro-sourced Focus we drove, the Mustang is an unrefined metal box of V8 overcompensation. A piece of 60s or 70s nostalgia that many outlets find somewhat difficult to perceive negatively due to a vast history and hoards Mustang Faithful (angry comments below).
But the year is 2013, emission standards are getting stricter, technology is getting better and designs are becoming more handsome; and the Mustang, well, it has yet to play catch-up with the rest of the “civilized” world.
Now don’t get me wrong, its not necessarily a ‘bad’ car, but, it needs to be taken back to Detroit (Ford Europe) and given a complete overhaul from top to bottom. Then- and only then, will it ever be able to be categorized as a ‘great’ car going forward.
Model: Mustang GT
Engine: 5.0L V8
0-60: 4.5 seconds
MPG: 15 / 26