Better than ever
The term “Pony-car” was very popular in the 1960s, which is still known by many people today. Ford Mustang was the creator of the Pony-car segment which was originally introduced in 1964. Ford Mustang was a pioneer which offered affordable, compact, good styling, and of course, good performance along with rear wheel drive. After the oil crisis, pony cars suffered from declining sales, as smaller and fuel-efficient cars started to get more popular until the beginning of 21st century.
Retro styled resurrection of the pony car segment started in 2005. Fifth gen Mustang was released, and eventually Dodge introduced the third gen Challenger and Chevrolet revived the fifth generation Camaro in 2010. Since then, it has been an evolution, rather than a revolution.
Current generation Ford Mustang was first available in 2015 and this is the first-generation Ford decided to use the independent rear suspension on a Mustang. This may not sound like an important change, it significantly increased handling capabilities of the current gen. In 2018, Ford redesigned the exterior and it looks modern, whereas it keeps its design elements from 1960s. It even looks more retro compared to the pre-facelift version. In our opinion, Mustang looks gorgeous like its rivals. It is hard to choose which one looks best in this segment.
The interior also has some design features resembling 1960s, especially the steering wheel. The diameter of the wheel is definitely larger than usual for a sports car. There are some soft-touch materials used, but it is not that hard to find hard touch plastics especially on the door panels, something can be improved. Refreshed Ford Mustang now comes with a digital instrument cluster, which is a great feature and customizable for your needs. You see lots of information about the car, such as oil pressure, oil temperature, differential/transmission temperature, intake air temperature, G meter, lap timer, you name it. The tachometer can be changed independently or depending on the driving mode.
Speaking of driving mode, it has Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet modes. Each driving mode adjusts the suspension, throttle response and the steering feel. Track mode disables the traction and stability control as well as it stiffens the suspension. You can also customize a mode for your driving needs. We personally used the steering and suspension in normal mode, and the exhaust in track mode. You read it right, you can adjust the exhaust sound by switching modes and there is a noticeable difference. I really don’t think people need aftermarket exhaust to get better sound, as it is readily available from the factory. If you opt for the Performance Package Level 2, it comes with the MagneRide magnetic suspension, and it is a well worth investment if you take it to track. Other extras come with the Performance Package are special 19” wheels along with Michelin Cup 2 track tires, Brembo brake calipers and larger rotors, unique front splitter and rear spoiler, larger radiator, strut tower brace, Torsen Limited Slip Differential, track-tuned springs and sway bar. Also, there are many advanced features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and so on. We are glad that performance-oriented cars can also keep up with the luxury cars in terms of tech and safety features.
Although technology-wise, everything is not perfect. We didn’t like is Ford’s infotainment system, it feels and looks outdated. This is something Ford needs to improve, as the other manufacturers have better infotainment systems available even in cheaper cars. It is leggy, low-resolution and works slowly. It would have been acceptable 3-4 years ago, but nowadays many manufacturers have not only faster and more user-friendly software but also so many features such as gesture control, Ford falls behind when it comes to the infotainment system. Rear-view camera resolution isn’t the greatest, too. At least, it comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The sound system is decent though, which is made by B&O. Overall, it is not the best, but not the worst either. Our tester comes with the Recaro sport seats as a part of Performance Package. However, you have to sacrifice the heated and power seats if you go with Recaro, it could be a deal breaker for some people.
Current generation Ford Mustang comes with both coupe (or called “Fastback”) and cabriolet, as well as two different engines (except the GT350 model range) with a 10-speed automatic transmission and 6-speed manual transmission, so there are lots of combinations to choose. In regard to the engine, there is a 4-cylinder 2.3-liter turbocharged Ecoboost as a base engine, and GT model gets the big boy, which is a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 engine which produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb/ft of torque. Unfortunately, they ditched the V6 engine few years ago, now the base model gets the inline 4-cylinder engine.
The V8 engine sounds great and lots of torque, however, it likes to keep the revs up in the mid-high range. Although the torque is more than enough for daily driving through the whole rev range, if you like to get the most out of it, you should keep the revs over 5000 rpms. We personally really like the 5.0L V8, known as “Coyote” engine, which is a quite rev-happy and sounds great. Power is overkill for public roads, it can get you in trouble on the highway if you don’t check your tachometer frequently, as it is easily capable of reaching over the speed limits. Of course, you must deal with the fuel consumption when you have eight cylinders to feed, and to keep the revs high. You can easily see more than 16.0L / 100 km if you drive spiritedly. In our tests, we see average fuel consumption of 15.5L / 100 km which is a mixed driving of highway, city and some spirited driving. Our test car comes with 6-speed manual transmission, no matter how good the automatic transmission is, the manual is always more fun and more engaging.
Overall driving impressions about Ford Mustang GT is, it is hard to find a flaw as a sports car, considering its price. Unlike the previous generations, Mustang is now a corner carver and the grip level with 305/30/R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are insanely high. Magnetic suspension is a great addition which surprisingly provides comfy riding as well as great road feedback. It is not harsh when you hit a pothole, but there is absolutely no body roll when you are cornering. This is something that regular suspension setup wouldn’t be able to handle, as you must pick either stiff suspension to avoid body roll, or mushy suspension to get a comfortable ride. Mustang GT’s MagneRide gives you best of both worlds.
If you treat the throttle pedal and steering like ON/OFF switch, the car wants to oversteer all the time, so it definitely requires some rear wheel driving experience or you have to be really easy with the throttle if you are not careful enough. The steering feel is not the greatest with extremely wide front tires, and a steering wheel with large diameter though, but still acceptable. The car is also extremely sensitive to road imperfections due to the wider front tires, it wants to dive in which requires a lot of steering input when driving normally. To be honest, it is a complete package if you are looking for an iconic fast car fun to drive, looks sporty, rides great, handles extremely well, with excellent brakes and can also be a track toy (with the optional Performance Package, indeed), look no further in this price range.
Mustang GT starts at $37.289 CAD but can go all the way up to $44.525 if you get the Premium package as of June 2019, which includes Aluminum foot pedals, ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled leather seats, chrome interior parts, selectable drive modes, power seats, and SYNC 3. In our opinion, if you are willing to get the Performance Package – either Level 1 or 2, you should skip the Premium package since you lose heated-cooled power seats. Level 2 PP makes the Mustang even a better track car while keeping it as street-legal with Michelin Cup 2 tires and MagneRide Suspension system. If you opt for the 10-speed automatic transmission, it is $1,500 CAD extra, but you cannot choose automatic with the Performance Pack Level 2.
Long story short, no car is perfect, and Ford Mustang is definitely not. It has come a long way compared to 10 years ago. However, the GT offers BMW M4 level of performance for the half price, which makes it a bargain sports car and it is still one of the best alternatives in Pony class.
Article and pictures by Dan Gunay