An fine example of everything that should be celebrated by auto enthusiasts everywhere.
The Ford Mustang is one of those automotive gems that are becoming fewer and farther between in an automotive industry, one that’s becoming evermore populated by line-blurring crossover-SUVs, four-door coupes and all other manner of “let’s try and hit every possible market segment with this one model” vehicles.
Of course, there is not necessarily anything overtly wrong with those cars; I think it’s great to be able to haul my cargo without sacrificing ride quality, or haul four people without the boxy look of a classic sedan. There’s also little question that one model that can do the job of two (or three, or four…) is good for both buyer and manufacturer economics.
But those qualities do not necessarily a great car make.
The 2013 Mustang, however, is great for one big, shining, reason: it does what it’s meant to do, does it very well, and leaves no question about its identity. It is a rear-drive, V6- or V8-powered muscle car (pony car if you want to really spilt hairs) that is a blast to drive, comes well-equipped both in the performance and technology sense at base and puts a big, fat, childish grin on your face whenever you open the garage door.
The model pictured here is the GT Coupe—it’s the entry-level model for those who want V8 power, slotting below the GT Convertible and Boss 302 (see that road test here) in the line-up. There’s also a V6 Coupe and Convertible if you don’t need the throbbing V8, which you can have for just over 22 grand if you just want a Mustang. And believe me when I say that there are many out there that just want a Mustang.
Remember that this is one of the most enduring nameplates on the market today; ever since 1964.5, there has been a Mustang of some kind in the Ford line-up, while competition in the form of the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger have flitted in and out of the various line-ups to which they belong. And that’s just the pony-car competition; the Mustang name has endured longer than almost any other model name on the market today , whether we’re talking about a Japanese family sedan or an American pickup truck (the VW Beetle, Chevrolet Suburban and Corvette are the other leaders in this regard).
The ‘Stang has soldiered on through multiple recessions and fuel crises and through five generations to bring fast-car fun to those who either couldn’t/can’t afford a Corvette, a BMW or a Porsche, or didn’t/don’t want to have to sacrifice the practicality those cars often lack.
Especially when your Mustang has the V8, as ours did. It’s the same 5.0-litre “Coyote” V8 seen in the 2012 model, but for 2013, it gains eight horsepower, for a nice, even 420 horses, reached at 6,500 r.p.m. The torque count remains unchanged, but 390 pound-feet is plenty.
There is just something so addictive about pinning the clutch, spinning the engine up to around 5,000 revs and unleashing the beast with a quick side-step of the third pedal—it goes like stink (expect sub-five second 0-100 kilometer-an-hour times) and it sounds the business, too; you’ve got that distinctively burbly exhaust note that can be heard from blocks away, but Ford engineers have decided to add some extra audibility to the proceedings by pumping the engine noise directly into the cabin; BMW does this electronically with the M5, and the fact that Ford goes the old-school analogue route, to me, just oozes confidence on behalf of Mustang engineers—they know what this car’s about, and it sure ain’t about making a fake noise to further impress the occupants.
Transmission on our tester came in the form of a six-speed manual transmission, which is what I’d have over the optional automatic. That’ll cost you an additional $1,200 but you do get the SelectShift manumatic option for the first time on a Mustang this year. Still, the manual is nicely slotted to the point where I rarely missed a shift, the throws are positive and precise–if a little stiff–and the clutch is much easier to manipulate than it should be considering the power on tap.
Plus, the Mustang line is second only to the Mazda MX-5 in Canada when it comes to manual transmission selections per units sold (however, unlike the MX-5, automatic Mustangs still outsell manual ones), and you’d be loath to miss out on the thrill of grabbing that shift lever and ramming home each shift as you set off down the boulevard, or try to beat your best time on your favorite track.
Indeed, for 2013, the track creds of the Mustang have really been fleshed out; have a look at our impressions of the made-for-the-racetrack Boss 302 here, but know that the GT (and indeed, the V6) hasn’t been left behind, as it were. Outside, a new front splitter that improves downforce and functional heat extractors on the hood belie the new car’s sporting intentions (and along with the LED headlamps, are the only real changes to the front fascia for ’13—see the video above for the rest of the exterior enhancements), while chassis mods and some interior additions do their part beneath the skin to up the ante in the performance department.
Chief among the additions are the Brembo race brakes and Recaro racing seats fitted to our model. The brakes are the same items you’d find on last year’s Boss, meaning upgraded brake pad material and rotors that help bring the proceedings to a halt in quick fashion. They are a $2,200 option, but an absolute necessity if you’re planning on tracking your ‘Stang on a regular basis, or at all. The downside here is a slightly more grabby feel that’s harder to modulate around town, but if we could get used to it over the course of a week, then surely any owner would be on board with the brakes in no time. Plus, this is a Mustang; it shouldn’t’ be a cinch to drive, and would lose some of its hard-earned character if it were. For 2013, the Brembo package also gets you a bigger oil cooler and radiator, and a puncture repair kit instead of a spare tire.
The racing seats, meanwhile, are a $1,000 option that aren’t as much of a necessity. No doubt they look the part (they even have the requisite portholes needed to fit a five-point racing harness) and have the support needed for maximum track attack mode, but the leather-trimmed bucket sets that come as standard on the GT are all you need both support- and comfort-wise on the daily grind. Plus, I can’t help but think the modern Recaros fly a little in the face of the old-schoolness of the rest of the interior.
That remains pretty much unchanged from last year’s model—you still have those deeply-recessed gauges (whose lighting colour you can change), the slabby dash and door panels (lots of plastic, here) and that awesome three-spoke steering wheel (that tilts, but still doesn’t telescope, and won’t until we see an all-new Mustang in 2015) with the Mustang logo proudly emblazoned on the hub.
The big addition this year comes in the form of the optional MyFord Touch infotainment system that provides a bright LCD screen in the middle of the center stack that controls everything from your climate to your audio.
Unique to Mustangs and in another nod to the car’s track intent (and probably also to show that while the Mustang may be old-school at heart, it can be techy, too) are the Track Apps. Displayed on a small screen in-between the tach and speedometer is all manner of performance data—you can see how fast it takes you to get from 0-100 km/h, then how long it takes you to come to a dead stop from that speed, and everything in-between. There’s even an accelerometer that tracks how many Gs you endure during a given lap. The system then stores that info so you can check it later to see where you can improve.
Other infotainment additions found on our car wer the optional ($1,000) Shaker Pro sound system which is a feature—one of few—that I would leave off; the trunk is small enough as it is, and the massive subwoofer that comes with the system makes it smaller still. Not to mention that you nullify a lot of the weight savings earned by losing the spare tire.
Having tried the GT both on the road and on track, I mostly agree with what Ford is feeding us; the car is happy here, but you’ll never get away from the pitfalls that come with a live rear axle. That means a slightly more fidgety ride if the surface you’re on is anything other than buttery smooth, which is the case on most twisty backroads where you’d want to ring the Mustang’s neck.
Having said that, once you get the car on your side, you’ll find the transitions from left to right happen smoothly, with the car happy to stick its tail out should you roll on a little more throttle and deactivate the traction control, which can be done with a press of a button mounted just left of the gear lever. That’s when the Mustang truly shines; when you’re grabbing a fistful of opposite lock and delving deep into the powerband and watching as that long, proud hood ahead of you gently climbs as the car squats on acceleration Ah, yes. It’s moments like that that just make you say “this is the car for me, and there’s no place I’d rather be.”
And that feeling, dear readers, is rarely an easy one to find.
2013 Ford Mustang GT — Specifications
Price as tested: $49,917
Body Type: 2-door, 2+2 passenger coupe
Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
Engine: 5.0-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves w/variable intake and camshaft timing
Horsepower: 420 @ 6,500 r.p.m.
Torque (lb-ft): 390 @ 4,250 r.p.m.
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Curb weight, manual transmission: 1,694 kg (3,735 lb)
Claimed Fuel consumption:
City: 12.2L/100 km (19.2 US mpg)
Highway: 7.6L/100 km (31 US mpg)
Observed Combined Fuel Consumption:
14L/100 km (17 US mpg)