April 24, 2008 - For a car that practically defines automotive Americana, the Mustang has since never lived up to the Pony car from late '60s. There's a certain feeling and experience in driving one and just simply riding in an original McQueen-approved fastback. The Mustang is easily one of the favorite two-door vehicles to come out of Motor City.
More than three generations have past since the Mustang lived up to the legacy. And it took until the debut of the 2005 for Ford to figure out that the formula for success was in design that was nearly half a century old. Ford designers put together a Mustang concept show at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. It was an instant must-have for both consumers and automotive media.
Instantly-popular, the concept was more than a hit all simply because of its original roots. The next logical step was to build the thing. Fortunately for Mustang fans and consumers interested in reliving Bullit, someone at Ford was smart enough to sign off on a production vehicle based on the concept.
Exterior design is 100-percent inspired, ripped, taken and copied from the '68 Mustang fastback. From nearly any angle this is undeniably a Ford Mustang and the best looking vehicle to come out of Ford in the last 20 years. Down to the overhangs and vertical antenna, nearly every exterior detail that made the Mustang a Mustang has been captured perfectly for the '00s. Put it side-by-side with an original and, yes, there are some differences, but it's undeniable that this is a Mustang.
Folks worried the interior wouldn't be as authentic or cool as the exterior, but the cabin is equally "pony", with its throw-back seats and instrumentation panel that looks like it's right out of the '50s or '60s. Interior design is a well-balanced combination of nostalgic design cues and modern comforts. The 2008 Ford Mustang GT incorporates heavy use of plastics along with leather and a scant few pieces of metal. It's comfortable and there's enough room for a double date.
Like other Mustangs before the throwback, our loaner has a 4.6L pushrod V8 engine. In the GT trim it produces 300 hp at 5,750 rpm and 320 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm. While that's not much hp in comparison to the large displacement, it's the torque in Ford's overhead valve (three per cylinder) that give the Mustang its oomph. Torque on the 4.6L is pretty much instantaneous with maximum twist hitting at 4,500 rpm. Torque numbers like these definitely give the Mustang a good amount of move from a standstill, but it also means that the coupe has a very linear feel to it.
While a smooth powerband is great, some drivers may be put off; then again, anyone getting into a Mustang should expect V8 power and not a peaky, high-revver like most smallish four-cylinder engines. Ford engineers should also get a day off for the decidedly throaty exhaust note. It sounds awesome at any speed, be it 15 or 50 yet the engine isn't overpowering and we can still make a phone call and hold a conversation while inside the Ford.
The balance of a powerful engine roar and interior cabin comfort heighten the already-enjoyable ride from the GT. Surprisingly, overall drivability is almost as comfortable as any regular four-door sedan. Up front the ride is cozy, but just the right amount of stiff for a Mustang with the letters GT. Cornering is more than adequate and has daily driving in mind with enough sport to consider taking it to the track or autocross.
There's one more thing that reminds us we're in a V8 Mustang; thirsty fuel economy. EPA estimates are 15 mpg 15 and 23 mpg highway although we were able to consistently see a little bit more on the digital readout. Keep in mind that it's not necessarily cheap to commute in a V8. At a California average of about $4/gallon, it takes $64 to fill up the Mustang's 16 gallon fuel tank. But if a pony car is all you want, maybe consider the V6.
There are more options than we can list, all ranging from the Bullitt package ($3,310), GPS navigation($1,995), Shaker 1000 Audio System ($1,295) down to racing stripes ($395), ambient lighting ($295) and remote starters ($295). You can literally customize the Mustang directly from the dealership. Our GT Premium came with the Navigation System, 18-inch wheels, Sirius Satellite and the ambient lighting package.
Between the Mustang and Mustang Convertible there are two trim levels to choose from Deluxe and Premium; they're both available on the V6 and V8 (GT) models. And all models are available with auto and manual transmissions. Pricing on the Mustang starts at $19,650 for the V6, but it'll take another $6,590 to get you into a GT--that's $26,240. Or drop $40, if you'd rather drive it virtually in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Sticker price for the Mustang tops out with the Mustang GT Premium Convertible at $32,245.
Source: Tyrone Rodriguez, cars.ign.com.