:12 Angus Mackenzie: International Bureau Chief There’s a ton of grip — those tires earn their keep — but the pronounced vertical body motions mean the car feels busy as speeds rise.”
Although our Best Driver’s Car competition is by no means a numbers game, the 2018 Mustang GT Perf Pack 2 really needed to smack down its archnemesis, the Camaro SS 1LE that finished fourth here in 2016. The Mustang justly earned its caboose ranking by missing that bogey, subjectively and objectively.
First the objective: A lap-time gap of 0.65 second at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca is a lifetime. It even trails the Chevy by 0.3 second on our tiny figure-eight course. Time lost between the corners as a result of the Mustang’s 35-lb-ft torque deficit is easily forgiven for its fabulous soundtrack.
Randy Pobst felt the ’Stang is “not balanced like the Camaro. There’s a little too much oversteer in the entry phase and when I go to power. I would put a little more front anti-roll bar in it.” He was also vexed by the stability control, which, although disabled, seemed to resurrect after a lap or two.
In the braking department, however, Kim Reynolds gushed, “When did the Mustang get such great brakes?”—a sentiment backed up by a Camaro-matching 94-foot stop from 60 mph. But Pobst and Chris Walton wished for initial bite that was a bit less abrupt.
Subjectively, Pobst loved the Mustang on the smooth track—but was surprised to learn the Audi TT RS ran quicker. On our bumpy Route 198 hill climb, the rest of the jury was underwhelmed by the Ford. A balky high-friction shifter and too-roomy seat drew near universal disdain, as did the front end’s propensity to follow ruts.
The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 steamrollers are immensely sticky, good for 1.06 g on our skidpad, but they send vague, confidence-sapping messages to the helm—especially when transitioning into a curve, before the chassis settles into the corner. Many drivers reported making constant midcorner course corrections—especially in corners that provoked bump steer.
Scott Evans summarized the staff’s sentiments: “I was hoping for a budget Shelby, and what I got was a better GT.”
STICKY Manual transmissions are an endangered species, and this one does little to aid the preservation efforts. It’s balky and doesn’t like to be rushed. The big-screen instrument cluster is cool, though.