Unpopular opinion: the latest, not the greatest Mustang
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It's all a bold statement by Weissach. A very un-German statement. They're saying: "You want to sacrifice technology and lap times for a more purely connected driving experience? Jawohl." Seeing Porsche unveil such a car, the mind wanders to a larger philosophical debate regarding the progress of technology, the quest for ever-improving performance and the heritage of whatever brand you adore.
Americans certainly have their loves. They're less lean, more mean than some of their European counterparts but performance cars with pedigree nonetheless.
Take the sixth-generation Mustang: it's the latest but is it the greatest Mustang? In a word: no.
Don't bail out to the comment section (yet). Focusing on this idea of heritage and brand purity, the new Mustang, even the much-vaunted GT350 and GT350R, may have lost some quintessential Mustangness. Or is it Mustangy-ness?
For the previous five generations, the Mustang represented the ideal pony car - a compact, stylized and sporty car you could drive everyday and drive it fast. As time went on, various incarnations followed carrying monikers like "Cobra" and "Boss." Like any product with a history, there were some missteps: Mustang II anyone? Four cylinders somehow went missing. They were eventually found and that's the point. There was a return to form.
Way back in 1964, Ford launched not only a car but also a blueprint of what a specific car should be: American muscle with an engine in front, rear-wheel drive, and a live rear axle. It would endure for 50 years.
Now, the world has a sixth-generation Mustang that can have six or eight cylinders under hood, even a four-cylinder is back albeit turbocharged. And of course, an independent rear suspension. Technical marvels continue to abound including the option of carbon fiber wheels.
For face value, this is all promising but upon digging deeper, there is a cultural shift from Ford regarding the Mustang. It's now a global car. Not an American muscle car. The benchmark used by the engineers? A Ferrari 458 Italia. That says a lot.
For instance, look back to the previous Mustang generation. The fifth-generation Mustang was a large, retro looking Mustang with either a V6 or V8 option underhood. It was burly, loud, and wild thanks to a live rear axle. It debuted at the 2003 Detroit auto show and went pleasantly retro. It was impossible to miss the '60s styling. Driving it today, despite it's more modern interior and proportions, is like driving a time capsule. It evokes its origin and celebrates it.
The newest Mustang is new. It's different. It looks boldly into the future.
Ford will say that was the goal. It produced a modern sports car. The new Mustang, especially with a V8 heart beating away, is a statement that America came to play. That's progress. Some would argue that's necessity, but making a global car came at the cost of some pretty sweet nostalgia.
There must be a segment of enthusiasts out there that love the fact every Mustang until now had a live rear axle. That when you got behind the wheel you could hear and feel you were in a Mustang.
Nostalgia and heritage are important. Just ask the folks at Porsche. They've kept an engine in the rear for decades and had to prepare for war when going from air to water-cooled engines. They're probably still licking their wounds after recently adding turbochargers across the 911 Carrera range.
The enthusiasts sure have strong opinions regarding the latest Carreras. Many would say that the new car is superb, but at the same time – a departure from what a 911 should be. The sixth-generation Mustang has the same identity crisis.
Opinions are a lot like Range Rovers or Teslas in Los Angeles – everybody's got one. Car enthusiasts are an opinionated bunch and there are a lot of unpopular – or what people deem to be unpopular – opinions out there.
So, I'll be keeping my fifth-generation Mustang GT and cherish its retro styling, that V8 guzzler, and ancient suspension. I'll also continue to abstain from Facebook and Twitter and keep calling people instead of texting them. These opinions might get me labeled as nostalgic, crazy, idiotic, or just plain old. Great.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's 4:30 and this 32-year-old has a hankering for some dinner.
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