It has been some time since I’ve been behind the wheel of Ford motor car, not for want of trying mind you. The Ford Focus RS has been on my radar since the day it was confirmed to go into production and following my brief love affair with the Focus ST (the first car I was ever loaned at TVG) I was desperate to trial the more focused RS. Thankfully the folks at Ford emerged from the shadows and offered to lend me the RS, but not before I jumped in the Ford Mustang GT, undoubtedly their anticipated launch in recent years.
I took a trip to Hawaii shortly before the Australian launch of the Mustang GT and, as those who’ve visited Hawaii will know, saw thousands of them cruising around, as they make up probably half of the various island’s hire car fleets. Despite being saturated in ‘Stang’, I continued to admire the vehicle, and have done since it arrived in Australia – it’s a beautiful thing to look at, composed of sleek lines and balanced proportions. In red, my press car looked ready to pounce at any moment, hunkered down behind the slightly raised bonnet housing a 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 producing 306kW. The black wheels completed what I judged to be a rather striking package, enough to turn heads but not draw unwanted attention.
But the unwanted attention stops right there because you can’t help but drive it like a complete dickhead. Shifted into Sport mode (yes my press car had an automatic gearbox, but we’ll come to that later) the Mustang GT feels like Usain Bolt itching to get off the starting blocks, so much so that it’s almost unsuitable for typical day to day driving. There’s so much power aching to hit the bitumen that the car almost jumps along, screaming at you to jam the accelerator and release it from the gates.
Spinning the wheels is as simple as putting your foot down, and when you add a corner, well the Mustang GT is like a hose that’s been turned on too hard and left to its own mad devices. Overcoming the enjoyment associated with sliding the GT’s bottom out is practically impossible. If I owned this car, I wouldn’t have a license within the first month, not a chance. ‘Oh here’s a sharp left corner with a slight rise, wheel down, dab of power, yayyy.’ It might just be as addictive as Heroin, not that I can compare.
But outside of the exterior beauty and its cunning ability to slide, I felt like the Mustang GT missed the mark. How I can write that a bright red V8 Mustang lacked character, is baffling even to me, but for a car that attempts to say so much, it just falls a tad short, especially in the soundtrack department. And I’ll say this, how can Audi drop a naturally aspirated V8 into a glorified family wagon and make it one of the most orgasmic noises to come out of modern day motoring, and Ford, reproduce the most iconic muscle car ever made, incapable of inspiring a smirk from a single downshift. Even after a couple of hours of spirited driving it still doesn’t want to sing. I pulled over at one point to just rev the life out of it, and it just sounded gutless.
Which brings me to my point on the automatic gearbox, who is buying this thing in auto?! Even in Sport mode, the thing wouldn’t let me hold a gear, and if you want to leave the traction control on, then that’s as dialled in as you’ll get it. Considering it’s somewhat similar to a Wavy Wacky Hand Man with the traction on, I wasn’t game to take it off on my first drive, bouncing and rolling along McCarrs Creek Road in the middle of the night. And once you see the 2 Star Ancap Saftey rating you’ll never want to take the traction off.
I didn’t dislike the Mustang GT, it was pleasant to be in, genuinely entertaining to drive and delivers excellent performance for its price, but it just lacks a bit of character off the shelf. There are quirky little touches like edgy blue cabin lighting and the Mustang logo lighting up on the road which reminds you that this car was designed to be a bit of fun, and it is, it just isn’t as epic as I expected it to be. However, I think a manual gearbox would have altered my opinion significantly.
The foundations of a serious weapon lie beneath the Mustang GT, and if I had a careless $62k odd lying around, I’d happily add one to my fleet, then put in a new exhaust system, suspension and gearbox. I wouldn’t drive it often, but on those days I was craving an offensive engine note and the smell of hot rubber she’d be the perfect candidate.
For more info on the Mustang GT head to the Ford website.