Wor­thy change

The new im­proved 2018 Ford Mus­tang GT has gone through trans­for­ma­tions that is sure to im­press. Robert Duf­fer has the de­tails

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - BUDS & BLOSSOMS -

The re­freshed 2018 Ford Mus­tang GT gets a lot of up­grades, from a new 10-speed trans­mis­sion to a new cus­tomis­able in­stru­ment clus­ter to 25 more ponies. But $52,000 is a lot of money for a lot of mus­cle car. A sim­i­larly equipped spe­cial edi­tion Hot Wheels Ca­maro with a 455-horse­power 6.2-litrE V-8 we re­cently tested cracked $50,000. Then there’s all the it­er­a­tions of the V-8 avail­able in the Dodge Chal­lenger, from the 485-horse­power 5.7-litre to the 840-horse­power 6.2-litre su­per­charged hound from hell. The Chal­lengers are sim­i­larly priced.

The ex­tra cost on the Mus­tang is not for the en­dan­gered V-8 engine alone; that beat­ing heart of Amer­i­can mus­cle power starts at a rea­son­able $39,000. It is the cut­ting-edge ex­tras that set it apart from its older mus­cle car bros.

The re­vised Coy­ote engine in the 2018 Mus­tang GT puts out 460 horse­power, up 25. De­spite a bump of 20 pound-feet of torque, the Mus­tang’s 420 pound-feet falls short of the 455 in the Ca­maro. Specs don’t tell the story, un­less you’re into mar­ket­ing or mea­sur­ing mus­cles.

There is a feral el­e­ment baked into the Mus­tang name this pony needs tam­ing. Ham­mer the throt­tle from a stop and the rear wheels kick up all kinds of spin out of those grippy PS4 tires (part of the $3,995 per­for­mance pack­age). Keep the reins straight from a dead stop or end up as an­other YouTube cars and cof­fee crasher.

To­gether with the new quick­shift­ing 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, the Mus­tang GT can hit 60 mph in un­der 4 sec­onds, ac­cord­ing to Ford and mul­ti­ple mag­a­zines. That’s nearly half a

sec­ond quicker than the out­go­ing Mus­tang, quicker than the Ca­maro 1LE by two-tenths of a sec­ond, and quicker than some sports cars that are twice as ex­pen­sive.

From nor­mal mode to sport­plus mode, the sus­pen­sion and steer­ing tight­ens on the ly, so you can come off a high­way cruise into a twisty back road with­out pause. It’ll tuck into and out of turns harder, but you’ll also feel bumps and road im­per­fec­tions more. The Mag­neRide damp­ing sys­tem ($1,695) is an adap­tive sus­pen­sion that is noth­ing new, as it was first of­fered in a Mus­tang GT350 in 2015. De­spite the me­chan­i­cal wiz­ardry, the Hot Wheels Ca­maro we tested two months ago felt a bit more planted. Mus­tang is jumpier, twitchier, more youth­ful than the Ca­maro. That could be a good or bad thing, de­pend­ing on your style.

Mus­tang V-8 roars wilder and hun­grier than the Ca­maro, but there is a quiet set­ting (one of four set­tings in the ac­tive valve per­for­mance ex­haust for $895) so you don’t feel like a jerk sneak­ing in at night or drop­ping the kids at school.

Once re­moved from do­mes­tic du­ties, the re­vised Mus­tang is ready to howl.

The 10-speed au­to­matic ($1,595) is im­pres­sively quick and efi­cient. We get that peo­ple pre­fer au­to­mat­ics, but a 5.0 feels more nat­u­ral with a six-speed man­ual.

Also part of per­for­mance pack­age is a rear wing and 19-inch black alu­minum wheels. Com­bine that with a slightly low­ered hood for bet­ter sight­lines, wider grille, nar­rower head­lights and new tail­lights, and the Mus­tang GT is dis­tinctly more ag­gres­sive-look­ing, like its track star sib­ling, the GT350.

The light­ning blue coat isn’t new but it re­ally pops.

On the in­side, the Mus­tang is wholly more civilised. The steer­ing wheel is busy with con­trols for ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tems such as adap­tive cruise con­trol (part of $1,495 Smart & Safe pack­age) and to ma­nip­u­late the ex­cel­lent cus­tomis­able 12-inch in­stru­ment clus­ter. It doesn’t have Chevy’s per­for­mance data recorder, but there are plenty of track apps to play with. In sport-plus and track mode, the RPM gauge un­furls into a red­line band along the top of the dis­play. Fun stuff. Ford has made the Mus­tang GT much more con­ve­nient and com­fort­able as an ev­ery­day driver. It is also more ad­vanced than the com­pe­ti­tion. That makes it worth the price for a track-ready mus­cle car.

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