– Retro-classic styling
– Enough power to have fun
– Improved cabin quality
– Hopping rear suspension
– Hectic highway ride
– Not so affordable any more
The Ford Mustang started life in the 1960s as a “pony” car for the masses. It didn’t take long for large V8 engines to somehow find their way under that long bonnet. It was a cheap and cheerful sports car that provided hours of fun without actually being a very good sports car. And the new-for-2010 Mustang GT seems to be attempting to follow that same formula.
It has to be said that the facelifted Mustang is easily one of the most flamboyant cars in its price range. While the previous version was starting to look dated, the exterior nip-tuck for 2010 is exactly what was needed to make it cool again. A reshaped front end, a redone rear end, more prominent shoulders, a rear lip spoiler and new wheels were all that was done. It now looks like a more aggressive version of the outgoing model. Our tester’s blue paint seemed almost fluorescent at times.
Thankfully, the interior has been completely redone too. While all Mustangs before it had a plastic bathtub for a cabin, the 2010 version actually makes an effort, with a new soft-touch dashboard, padded armrests, real aluminium trim and proper leather upholstery. Ford didn’t go far enough however, as hard plastics dominated the upper door sills and lower panels, while some of the metal trim was loose to the touch. Our tester also suffered from a minor rattle emanating from the rear at highway speeds.
Space up front is good enough, although we did raise the seat for better visibility, which brought our knees uncomfortably close to the dashboard. The front seats are only moderately bolstered, aiming for comfort rather than butt-holding. Access to the back is tight, and so is the rear legroom, although shorter adults can fit in there for limited periods of time. As for storage spaces, there is a useful cubby under the central armrest, and covered cup-holders up front, with tight pockets on the doors. The luggage boot is long but shallow, with a non-flat floor and a small opening.
In terms of gadgets, the Mustang is a mixed bag. There is the standard Microsoft-powered SYNC multimedia system that is supposedly the most advanced in the world, but is controlled via a bunch of buttons and a small dot-matrix display. It took a peak in the manual to set up the Bluetooth phone, which worked perfectly. The entire system can also be voice-controlled, but does not recognise anything other than American accents. Other tech features are likeable, such as the strong “Shaker” stereo, iPod/MP3 inputs, the blue mood lighting, the retro gauge cluster, and the rear-view camera display within the central mirror. Our tester only had a manual a/c, but it was coping rather well in September weather. There were some glaring omissions and design faults, such as the lack of standard HID headlights, no “P-R-N-D” gear-selection indicator in the instrument cluster, and the blue gauge lighting partially reflecting on the windshield at night. Thankfully, the non-retractable antenna has been moved to the rear fender, instead of being on the front fender like in the old model.
The GT engine gets the mildest of power upgrades for 2010. Up only 15 horses, the 4.6-litre V8 is now good for 315 hp at 6000 rpm and a strong 440 Nm of torque at 4250 rpm. It may be matched by V6 competitors in horsepower, but none of those engines have nearly as much torque as this outdated V8, making it wholly adequate in terms of rubber-burning fun. Keeping in mind that we are the last people to drive this abused test vehicle, we managed a 0-100 kph time of 6.3 seconds with mild wheelspin, while keeping the traction control off. Piling on a bit more wheelspin seemed to actually increase our times by a millisecond during our afternoon testing.
With a lot of highway driving over two days, we managed to get a fuel consumption figure of 13 litres per 100 km, which is very respectable. Even then, the straightforward 5-speed automatic in our tester never seemed to force economy over performance at any time, and always downshifted when the throttle was pushed. However, the automatic is still too basic for a car like this, utilising an ancient “D-3-2-1” shifter instead of a proper tiptronic setup.
On extended 160 kph highway jaunts, the Mustang proved itself to be a stable-footed cruiser, but not a very comfortable one. It feels perfectly stable at those speeds, but it has all the traditional inconveniences of a barebones sports car. We were subjected to road noise, wind noise, engine noise, and even a few squeaks and rattles. The ride is annoyingly firm on long trips, but easily bearable around town.
The firm suspension translates to pretty sporting handling. Grip is solid from the 245/45 tyres on optional 19-inch wheels. Suspension rebound is limited over bumps, while body roll is evident but kept well within reasonable limits. The steering is slightly firm, and offers a bit of feedback. The ABS-assisted disc brakes on our tester were merely adequate and could’ve been better.
Driving the Mustang quickly is rewarding, but hit an expansion joint mid-corner, and the live-axle rear suspension hops like a rabbit, which would be disconcerting if you don’t expect it. With stability control on, the nannies still allow for some powersliding fun before kicking in. However, lift off the throttle and the stability control makes the car understeer heavily, as we found out on an autocross course, hitting every cone on the way. But the electronics can be turned off at the press of a button.
The Mustang GT isn’t particularly class-leading in anything. However, it still manages to be as much fun as a wild horse, if you can palate the ever-higher asking prices. Even when saddled with high-tech gadgets, its rustic character always shines through, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Current Model Introduced in:
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