2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Decisions, Decisions
February 07, 2012
Random Mustang trivia of the day - the word "Mustang"does not show up anywhere on the outside of the car, and the sill plate(s) is the only place on our longterm 2011 Ford Mustang GT where I could find it on static display.
Anyway, reader mail time. Comment "christople"asks:
So after 20k miles, between this and the 370z you guys had new which of the two would you want in your garage?
Hmm. In my garage? Hit the jump.
The surprise here is that, despite their morphological differences, these cars are more alike than you might expect. In particular, the 370Z drives chunkier than it ought to, and the Mustang offers real-deal performance. Both are very fast. They may be apples and oranges, but its a citrusy apple and a crunchy tangerine.
I prefer the Nissan's size. And its more buttoned-down chassis. I'm not crazy about its clunky gearchange and the fact that the VQ engine makes me wince when I wind it out -- too coarse. Really, though, the part I least like about the Z is that it its pure sports car promise is undermined by mass and packaging. It feels dense and claustrophobic. Thick. Nuance and reward which should be present in spades is curiously absent.
The Mustang could hardly be described as nuanced, but it's a bit more honest. And its V8 hits all the right notes, both auditory and propuslive. But the Mustang drives like I'm playing frisbee in pants that are a few sizes too big. There's plenty of freedom to go like hell, but there's this extra slack to contend with. To me this stems from the need for its chassis engineers to accommodate the dynamic implications of the live axle. Given how far Ford has evolved this layout, I'd be curious to see what they could do when free of its constraints.
So, in short, neither is my cuppa, but the Z comes closer. However, a 500Z -- a Z with the Mustang's 5.0-liter V8 stuffed inside -- would address some of my whinging about the Z's powertrain, if not the nuance thing.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor