After having the Mustang for a few days and having the posts online for people to give feedback, it seems that there are a few loose ends to tie up.
The first one that might be on everyone?s mind is the fuel economy. If you are truly interested in fuel economy, the
V6 Mustang might be up your alley. The GT was getting around 15.7 mpg according to my calculations. I have been all
over town in this car, and I can tell you that the sensations that you receive from liberally applying force to the
accelerator do not encourage frugal driving. It is possible to do so, because Ford has nicely included a MPG meter that
gives you a general idea of how efficiently you are driving. It is part of the trip computer/information screen that
displays in the right hand instrument ?pod?
There is another feature that is not often discussed that does have a certain level of novelty. The Mustang?s instrument panel color can be customized by the driver using this ?MyColor? feature. It too is accessed through the trip computer/information screen in the right hand instrument pod, underneath the speedometer. The color is only applied when the parking or head lights are on, meaning that any custom settings do not affect your typical daytime reflective white letter on black background color scheme. The color can be altered by changing the values for red, green, or blue to create any number of shades. It was a novelty to show off, but it does take time to get into the screen to change. I just leave it on a shade of yellow to match the car, but this feature reminds me of Need for Speed: Underground 2 for some strange reason.
Also on my list of items to address is the car?s ride quality and the solid rear axle. Despite its performance intentions, the Mustang?s ride is surprisingly smooth. That smooth character does not interfere with the GT?s ability to handle aggressive driving. It does present a nice balance, especially considering its pony car heritage. I did feel that the chassis has lost some edge by being a convertible. Like I have said before, cowl shake is not bad, and it is certainly better than anything else in its class.
What is truly surprising is how well Ford has tuned the rear axle. A consumer would be very hard pressed to determine that it was anything out of the ordinary. I spent some time talking to the guys over at Ford about the axle choice and their motivation was clear. The solid rear axle is very durable and is capable of handling lots of power. Enthusiasts, especially those who enjoy the drag strip, demand a solid rear axle. Even on the open road, there are few better ways to put down the kind of power the Mustang is capable of. With an independent rear suspension, a lot of development time and money has to be dedicated toward geometry and a balance must be maintained between all the different factors involved. When you add a high power V8 into the equation, it can make the task much more difficult than it needs to be. Previous generation Cobra enthusiasts can speak to the evils of the IRS that was fitted to that car. If you look into the future, you can see that even the 2007 Mustang Cobra is fitted with this rear suspension, and that should say something.
That is not to say that Ford did not put serious development time into their current rear suspension. There is one word that I would used to describe the Mustang?s platform, capable. Gone are the skittish tendencies of the previous generation. It does not seem to matter that the rear axle is not an ultramodern independent rear setup. In all situations, the rear end felt under control. The ugly rough road handling behavior typical of the previous generation is not there. And having this kind of capability in a convertible, especially a four seat convertible, is astounding. It speaks volumes for the time Ford has put into this platform and in its approach with the solid rear axle. Overall, consider the rear axle to be a durable, well evolved asset not some blast from the past antiquity.
The same could be said for the entire car. The old Mustang was the definition of the phrase ?long in the tooth.? The new car, despite its retro design, is a clean slate approach to the Mustang formula. It works well on the street, and I have no doubts that it will perform at the track. There is clearly a reason behind the new Mustang?s success at the race track; it is a very capable car. Look at Ken Gushi and his drifting Mustang. He is a young guy going up against drivers like Rhys Millen and winning. He currently stands third in the Formula D championship. Ford is also beating out BMW for first in the manufacturer?s standings for the Grand American Road Racing Grand-Am Cup. Sure, these are prepared race cars, but the foundation is there in the consumer cars. With all this in mind, the Mustang is a terrific performance value. Time is a wasting, however, and I must enjoy what little time I have left with it.