I’m in Nashville, the country music capital of the world, and I’m driving a convertible Mustang next to my wife and an ex-Navy SEAL who was telling me about his first car, a classic Camaro. I am positivly surrounded by Americana. I see men with large mustaches, fast-food restaurants, and there are very few vehicles that are not US-made pick-up trucks. I feel the wind in my hair, and hear the roar of a massive Ford V8 as I overtake yet another slow-moving Nashvillian. The day is good.
The 2010 Mustang GT looks very similar to the 2009, but almost every body panel has been changed subtly. The car’s overbite has been made more dramatic, and the rear panel has been angled more to match. The tail lights now mimic those on the first generation Mustang, and dozen of other details have been changed to make the car look more like a modern classic. It’s a passionate vehicle. The designers weren’t looking at market research when they made the new Mustang, they were looking at the glory days of the pony car for inspiration. It’s hard to find this level of passion in the design of a car made outside of Italy these days, which makes me immediately want to love the Mustang, but I make myself promise to only like it if it is actually good… and good means more than just straight line speed.
Of course, the ’stang is doing well with the whole straight line speed thing, hitting 100kph in around 5.2 seconds. This is due to a 4.6 liter engine that produces 315 horsepower, 15 more than last year. While 315 horses is plenty, out of an engine of that size it doesn’t seem like much anymore, since Mazda can get 84.13% of that out of a 2.3 liter four pot. Granted, the Mazdaspeed3 is rocking a turbo, but it still says something about the ’stangs powerplant. As soon as you try to corner quickly in this car though it suddenly seems like plenty of power, and the rear wiggles just the tiniest bit, like a cat that hasn’t decided when to pounce yet. Before driving the Mustang, it was easy to forget what a live-rear axle feels like. It feels positively archaic, especially after I’ve become 1000% used to the precise suspension set-ups in German vehicles. After a couple minutes though, I started to get used to the way I worked the brakes going into a corner to get the front wheels to bite just the right amount, and what moment I could put my foot down without spinning off into oblivion. I was really driving, and breaking out of the habits formed by all of today’s electro-mechanical wizardry. In fact, I began to really notice that this wasn’t just a muscle car, in 2010 the Mustang had been given a dash of sports car for added fun.
Right after I drove the Mustang GT I couldn’t help but think that it was a fairly silly car. It does look cool in a “loud and proud” kind of way, but the engine is disappointing given the size, it was heavier than I would have liked, and it always felt like it was going to be very harsh if I made a mistake in a corner. However, since I left it I have found myself playing with the online Mustang customizer fairly often, justifying the poor fuel economy to myself, and simply reminiscing about my time behind the wheel. This is a car that was made by passionate people, and is sold by at least one passionate person, and has managed to make me a little, just a little bit passionate about muscle cars. And trust me, that was no small feat.
Summary: A classic car that was made yesterday. It’s awesome, but primitive.
Price: $38,940 ($40,305 as tested)
Exterior Design: 8/10 A subtle improvement on what was already a nice looking car.
Interior Design: 7/10 A massive imporvement over the cheap ‘09 Mustang.
Engine: 6/10 Fun, but not enough power for the size
Transmission: 7/10 The manual is good, the auto doesn’t even have a manual override.
Audio/Visual: 5/10 Par.
Value: 8/10 You do get a lot of car for the money, and if horsepower is an issue, you can always pick up a Roush supercharger.
Overall: 7/10 A really fun car with a few short-comings.
Special thanks to Crown Ford of Nashville, TN