Vw­golf GTE & Ford Mus­tang V8 GT Con­vert­ible

Cut­ting-edge tech meets old-fash­ioned mus­cle, and each has a place in the modern mo­tor­ing land­scape

Evo - - FAST FLEET - James Dis­dale

YOU COULDN’T FIND A GREATER con­trast on evo’s Fast Fleet if you tried. With its hairy- chested 5-litre V8 the un­apolo­get­i­cally gas-guz­zling Mus­tang is the very four-wheeled an­tithe­sis of our ef­fi­ciency-is-al­most- ev­ery­thing Golf GTE. One of these cars rep­re­sents the fu­ture of mo­tor­ing (so we’re told), the other is a di­nosaur whose time is very quickly run­ning out (so we’re told).

I’ve spent the last six months rack­ing up the miles in our GTE, and it’s fair to say the hy­brid hatch has won my re­spect, if not my heart. Its abil­ity to do a fair im­pres­sion of a hot hatch when the mood takes, then switch to a near silent and has­sle-free com­muter is not with­out ap­peal. Then there’s tech­nol­ogy. Whether it’s a twin- clutch gear­box, adap­tive ma­trix LED head­lamps, ges­ture- con­trol in­fo­tain­ment, TFT di­als or radar-guided cruise con­trol, the goody-two-shoes Golf has all the cut­ting- edge bases cov­ered. Yet while hav­ing all this stuff is well and good, and some of it is gen­uinely use­ful, every now and then you need a dig­i­tal detox – and this is where the Mus­tang comes in.

Like Ian Eveleigh ( evo 245), I’d some­how avoided any time in the big Ford – not out of choice; it was just one of those wrong place, wrong time sit­u­a­tions – but I was keen to sam­ple its more, erm, sim­plis­tic charms. The first thing you no­tice is the noise. Af­ter months of hear­ing noth­ing more than an elec­tronic bong when prod­ding the ig­ni­tion, the churn­ing starter mo­tor and woofly V8 idle brought an in­stant smile to my face. Then there’s the fact you have to make an ef­fort to change gear, push­ing a pedal and mov­ing a lever that ben­e­fits from a sur­pris­ingly pre­cise and me­chan­i­cal ac­tion. In fact, ‘ef­fort’ is a good word to de­scribe the Mus­tang – and not in a bad way.

The steer­ing is heftier than the Golf’s, and be­cause the full-fat Ford was de­signed for larger-than-life Amer­ica it takes greater care to thread down the UK’S tight and twisty sec­on­daries. It’s not as hushed, ei­ther. The can­vas roof does an im­pres­sive job of cut­ting wind rus­tle, but road roar and en­gine noise (ad­mit­tedly of the good, throbby V8 kind) are both more in­tru­sive than in the vault-like VW.

Yet de­spite this I didn’t ar­rive home any more tired than I would have done in the Golf. In many re­spects I was more en­er­gised, be­cause on the last few miles of back roads I was able to get in­volved with the Mus­tang in a way the clin­i­cally ef­fi­cient GTE sim­ply doesn’t in­vite. Sure, the sub­stan­tial ’Stang isn’t the last word in scalpel-sharp pre­ci­sion, but the com­bi­na­tion of rear-wheel drive and thun­der­ing V8 means it cer­tainly holds

your at­ten­tion. It’s more ca­pa­ble than you’d be­lieve too: that in­de­pen­dent axle finds sur­pris­ing trac­tion and the steer­ing is quicker and more trust­wor­thy than the arm-twirling ac­tion of Hol­ly­wood car chases would have you be­lieve. There’s no es­cap­ing its size, weight and the scut­tle shake over even mod­er­ately rip­pled sur­faces, or the fact it’s re­ally no quicker than the Golf over give-and-take roads, but the Ford’s charm soon wins you over.

So where’s the progress? Well, as al­ways in these fi­nan­cially tur­bu­lent and eco­log­i­cally aware times, it comes down to the bot­tom line and the en­vi­ron­ment. Where the Golf will eas­ily travel 50 miles on a gal­lon of un­leaded, the Mus­tang will get less than half as far on the same amount. And the VW’S claimed CO2 emis­sions of 40g/ km are far more palat­able

‘ The rear-wheel drive and thun­der­ing V8 cer­tainly hold your at­ten­tion’

than the Ford’s fig­ure of 306g/ km (al­though that ig­nores the thorny sub­ject of where the elec­tric­ity to charge the Golf comes from).

Nei­ther ma­chine is per­fect, but they are proof that the ba­sic tem­plate of what con­sti­tutes a car is hugely ver­sa­tile and can be stretched in vastly dif­fer­ent direc­tions. Whether you want some­thing that’s quick and ca­pa­ble but soothes your con­science, or some­thing unashamedly old school and un­re­pen­tant, the au­to­mo­bile has it cov­ered.

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