The pony car perfected

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jul. 18, 2013
- Contributed Photo

When you consider the renaissance of the muscle car, you make a few assumptions. The first is despite the styling resemblance to the original Camaros, Challengers and Mustangs, you know beneath the skin these are really very different animals, and that’s obviously a very good thing. The new versions have far superior engineering with better performance, braking, safety technology, fuel economy and even more creature comforts.

That said, many of the original characteristics that marked the breed have survived all these decades, such as rear-wheel drive, big-displacement V8 engines and even rear seats that are a tad on the cramped side. And in the case of the Mustang GT, unlike its retro competition from Chevy and Dodge, the company has retained a design legacy in the form of a straight or “live” rear axle, as opposed to an independent rear suspension. But as we discovered during our week with the 2014 GT Premium, this live rear axle has received decades of development and it works as well as it possibly could. While it’s a more rugged design, it displayed excellent handling and ride characteristics. When you combine this with all the other performance tweaks, you get a really enjoyable machine that will appeal to driving enthusiasts and fans of the Mustang marque alike, and set new standards for refinement, drivability and performance.

The new Mustang GT comes well-equipped out of the starting gate, but you can arm your pony with a diverse assortment of option packages to soup up both performance and infotainment. The engine is a 5-liter V8 with an impressive 420 horsepower. Two six-speed gearboxes are offered, including a manual and a SelectShift Automatic. Our Deep Impact Blue Premium tester had the manual, which comes with Hill Start Assist to help prevent the car from rolling back on hills until the clutch is fully engaged. The rear-drive architecture and excellent balance makes the GT comfortable to hustle around challenging tarmac, and this version also had the optional Track Package, including an engine cooler, upgraded radiator, performance friction brake pads, a Torsen® differential, 14-inch vented front discs and unique 19-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires.

The car was rocketed to 60 mph in around 6 seconds, and stopped from this speed in an average of 111 feet. Handling and ride were quite satisfying. The optional Recaro leather buckets offer great support, especially laterally, but my passenger was less enamored to her perch compared with myself. The retro instrument pods are split by a sharp 4.2-inch LCD screen with a trip computer and track functions to measure acceleration, braking and other values. Our GT didn’t have the optional Navigation system, but was armed with Ford Sync and a seriously strong Shaker sound system; the perfect compliment to the V8’s brilliant exhaust music.

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium is EPA rated 15 MPG city/26 highway and has a base price of $34,750. With options, our sticker came to $40,330.

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