All I want for Christmas is the Mustang GT
Ford’s all-new 2005 Mustang GT, one of the most talked-about automobiles of the season, is one high-powered machine that actually lives up to the hype. And it’s more than just Mustang’s package of inspired retro-futuristic design, both inside and outside: Ford has delivered a new and exciting automobile that literally growls with muscle-car presence and drag strip-worthy performance.The engine noise alone will totally get you. Turn the key, give it some gas and you’ll feel like you’ve suddenly been transported into “Bullitt” or “Gone in 60 Seconds” – no wonder the long-dead Steve McQueen is suddenly making appearances in TV spots promoting the new pony car.
We spent a week with a Torch Red GT with a five-speed manual and can confirm that the Mustang was certainly the talk of the town. Each stop in a parking lot drew an enthusiastic crowd of curiosity-seekers, not to mention loads of gleeful looks from those we passed. Everyone seems to love the car’s new look, which takes its cues from the extremely macho Mustangs of the late 1960s.But it’s time in the saddle – ours had the optional bright red leather seats and interior, of course – that will convince even the most skeptical that the new GT is one fearsome machine. Powered by a three-valve, 4.6 liter OHC V8, the Mustang packs so much punch that it’s frankly a little onerous. Rich, throaty exhaust sounds rumble throughout the cabin, even at idle, so much so that you sometimes feel like you’re sitting on top of the engine. Even the slightest application of the accelerator produces roaring results; suffice to say that popping the heavy clutch at even partial throttle will result in high school-styled burnouts.
Under carefully controlled track conditions the GT will reach 60 mph in just over five seconds and even get a bit of wheel-spin in second gear; the scream of the dual exhaust pipes will transform even the most mild-mannered enthusiast into That Guy (or Girl) Driving the New Mustang. Take all of that flying wall of power out onto the highway and you’ll find a machine that’s tight as a drum and absolutely solid. Concise steering and high-performance Pirelli P-Zero P235/55 ZR 17s serve up especially tight inputs on the road, with huge four-wheel disc brakes effortlessly reeling it back in when you push the car a little too hard. The only perceptible negative (besides the gigantic, imaginary “arrest me” sign perpetually floating above our redder-than-red car) was a ride, channeled through a new, live rear axle, that proved to be a little chunky on concrete freeway expansion joints and potholes.
Traction control is incorporated (and can be disabled if you like) but the ‘Stang seems better suited to fair-weather careening.Compared side to side with last year’s Mustang, the 2005’s design has definitely incorporated elements of Mustangs from about 1967 to 1971. The flat, squared off front grille – complete with massive headlamps and a pair of grille-mounted “get the hell out of my way” fog lamps – might have been lifted from a 1969 Mach I. The car’s been given a long, flat hood that shorter drivers may have difficulty seeing over; the entire Mustang’s body profile seems taller, including the doors, and you’ll have to tilt your elbow up at a funny angle for those summertime, windows-down day of cruising. A tapered, chunky body line, including large indentations around the wheel wells, gives the ‘Stang a very solid appearance. Tiny rear windows in the back, a short, flat trunk and a redesigned rear (complete with three-stage, rectangular, retro-style brake and turn lights, an enormous non-functional chrome cap and a trunk-mounted spoiler) help round out the new package.
Inside, the car does surrounds you in a tall wall of hormonally-enhanced cabin comfort, taken just a bit over the top by red leather seats and door inserts, plus red carpeting. A short, flat dash rides over an aluminum-colored mid-panel; instruments are equally retro-futuristic, deeply recessed in chrome-edged clusters and given 1960s-style lettering. A small electronic screen provides gas mileage, cruising range and service information, as well as accessing one of the Mustang’s coolest features: color-configurable instrument lighting, providing 125 different hues to light up the tach and speedometer.A large, three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel is devoid of controls and centered entirely on instrument visibility. Mid-console, air and radio controls are blissfully understated – the six-CD, in-dash Shaker 500 stereo blasted the tunes but I actually preferred to keep the stereo off and listen to the roar of that big V8. Windows are relatively shallow, given that new vertical push to the car, but there’s still plenty of headroom and a nice fabric headliner to top the cabin. True to Mustang form, the broad bucket seats in the back are a nice idea but offer absolutely minimal leg room when driver and front passenger are comfortably seated.All things considered, a total winner, and relatively affordable, to boot. The perfect Christmas gift for the leadfoot in your family.
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