Strengths and weaknesses:
- it will slide if you get too enthusiastic
Ford ponies up with new Mustang
PORTLAND, Oregon – Mustang is the only pony car nameplate in continuous production since the ’60s and for 2013 it’s been given more of a presence and a raft of new technology.
The 2013 model stays true to its heritage, but a big new grille gives the car a more aggressive look. HID headlamps are standard with two LED bars accentuating the lights. Functional heat extractors on the new hood of the GT help keep the engine cool. Body colour rocker panels provide the illusion of a lower vehicle. Wheel wells are nicely filled by standard 18-inch painted aluminum wheels.
Yes, the iconic sequential tail lamps are still there however they’re set into a new high-gloss black panel. Three LED ropes form the three-bar lights and, in a clever bit of design, the centre lens of each three-light cluster produces a white light when reverse gear is selected.
Inside, the first great thing I find is optional leather-trimmed Recaro seats with bolsters that hold me firmly in place and a seatback that supports me from bum to head.
Looking around, I find easy-to-read gauges, handy switches and a classic Mustang interior style – but with techno gizmos everywhere. In addition to SYNC, MyKey and all the other “just ask” devices, there’s a 4.2-inch LCD screen that provides performance and economy data by using a five-way control button on the steering wheel. This is a first for the Mustang line and, to keep the performance image, the system offers Track Apps which, the Ford people say, is for track use only.
An accelerometer shows the g force the car is pulling. Drivers can also track their fastest times with the acceleration timer screen, which offers 0-30 mph, 0-60 mph, 0-100 mph, eighth-mile and quarter-mile. Both an automatic start and a countdown start, complete with drag racing start light, are available. The brake performance screen indicates stopping time and distance for 60-0 or 100-0.
The view/clear results screen lets drivers take a look at their top times and review their last and saved results. It’s a great idea, but I wonder about the driver distraction factor.
Now for the fun part…hitting the road in this high-tech pony car with its 5.0-litre V8 and there are plenty of performing ponies under the hood…420 of them whipped by 390 lb.-ft. of torque. I step on the gas and the ponies jump at the sound of a good old North American V8.
In the test car, the 5.0L V8 is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission with sport shift. The transmission is quick and smooth if left to its own devices; however, the manual mode controlled with a selector button on the side of the shifter is awkward to use. After trying it a few times, I just leave the transmission in “D” and let the electronics rule.
Giving praise where praise is due, the manual shift does not have a nanny…the transmission will hold the selected gear right to the rev limiter. In that respect it’s a true sport shift.
The GT tester is rock solid on the rain-slickened, twisty, narrow paved roads through the mountainous forests – provided one remembers that tires have a limited grip capability in the wet.
Steering response is quick and despite the fact its electric power steering, I get a good feel for what’s happening under the tires.
Our route includes new and old pavement, broken pavement and freeway surfaces. Nothing seems to upset the Mustang even if the cornering gets a bit spirited now and then. The car seems stuck to the road although I expected the solid rear axle to provide some “uh oh” step-out moments.
The reverse-L independent MacPherson strut front suspension and three-link solid axle with coil springs and Pahhard rod rear setup provide a composed, well-modulated ride over every surface.
The ponies that put the Gee in GT like to gallop but are easy to keep under control.