Vwgolf GTE & Ford Mustang V8 GT Convertible
Cutting-edge tech meets old-fashioned muscle, and each has a place in the modern motoring landscape
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.