Ford Mustang GT
The Ford Mustang is a true icon in America. With the Mustang the sensation of driving a thoroughbred sports car came within the reach of Joe Public. By opting for a low tech approach with an oversized engine, the price stayed within the limits.
For example, the basic, yet muscular, Mustang costs about 20,000 dollars in America. At that price Europeans can only get a full spec Ford Fiesta! The price difference is caused by CO2 taxation and import duties.
That's why Ford developed a 2.3 litre four cylinder Mustang, which during an earlier test drive certainly convinced. However, to make the American dream a reality the only way to go is 5.0 litre V8. No matter the huge tax burden and the almost insane CO2 emissions.
Press the starting button and the heart of every car nut skips a beat. While many sports cars sound like savage beasts, the V8 of the Mustang sounds like a well played contrabass. When the pedal is put to the metal, the bass track changes into an ominous melody.
While enjoying this soundtrack, the Mustang GT gently sets off. The power of this 421 PS strong "Fastback" builds up very gradually, which makes the car everything but intimidating to drive. The clutch and the throttle are rather insensitive (they require big movements), which also makes the car easy to control.
But... the V8 is always on the prowl. Although this power houseneeds some time to actually build up engine speed, the torque of 530 Nm is almost always fully available. In other words: the V8 packs some serious punch for lightning fast acceleration or even instant wheelspin. Because, even with the traction control turned on and with tyre size 275/40R19, the rear wheels can hardly manage all that power.
To prevent accelerating fully from a standstill resulting in merely wheelspin, Ford offers "Launch Control". This allows everyone to experience the acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds. That's quick, but other cars with similar power do it a lot faster.
Of course, Ford could have offered four-wheel drive or other smart kit, but that would make the car too costly. And, the low tech approach is what sets the Mustang apart. This is a car in which the driver has to work to perform!
A very special feature is "Line Lock", which locks only the front brakes so the rear wheels can spin freely. Officially this is meant to warm up the tyres for a race, but in real life it's mainly used to make spectacular "burn outs".
It is at high speeds that the Mustang GT can really prove itself. Even when speeds are far above of what British law allows, the engine has more than enough oomph left to push the driver into his/her seat once more. And only then, the warm and civilised bass line from the engine changes into a brute, primal scream (if not from the car, then certainly from the driver).
The GT has much stronger brakes (Brembo) than the standard Mustang, which means this aggression can safely be tamed. Despite this, it is always painfully clear that this is an American heavyweight and not a lightweight sports coupé; some European and Japanese SUVs have a lighter and more agile feel than this obese two seater.
Most Ford models are known for their superior suspension which combines comfort and sportiness like no other. This isn't the case with the Mustang! The American technicians did everything they could to make the Mustang as spectacular as possible and that goes for its handling as well.
Again, at first the Mustang seems to be civilised enough. When driving calmly the Mustang will always be on its best behaviour. Then, only the unusually low seating position makes the Mustang stand out from other Fords. The tall bonnet, the low windows and the tiny wing mirrors make the driver feel like operating from within the bowels of the beast. With other sports cars the superior driving position gives the feeling of being 100% in control, while the Mustang does the opposite.
Steering is heavy, but despite this it's indirect and lacking communication. The underpinning is firm and without any refinement. Every bump in the road is noticeable; in both the car and the steering rack.
Cornering fast with the Mustang requires hard work and... talent. Whenever the Mustang is being provoked ever so slightly the rear will step aside. And once the Mustang starts going sideways it requires a skilled driver to tame this wild stallion. For novice drivers this is a challenge, and that's soft peddling it. For expert drivers this is what makes the Mustang a dream car.
Will the Ford Mustang GT make the American dream come true? Yes, without a doubt. In all aspects the Ford Mustang is different from European and Asian sports cars. Its looks, handling and engine disposition differ from its rivals like night and day. With this American car it's all about the show, even if it affects safety, performance or impact on the environment.
The price also differs from its rivals, because due to total disregard for CO2 emissions and taxes the Mustang GT is disproportionally more expensive than other sports cars. European and Asian brands even think about fuel efficiency with their performance cars and therefore offer better performance and more refinement at the same price. That's why the Mustang is only for those who want to live the American dream, the American way.