2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Weekend Drive
August 29, 2011
Some people sleep in on Sunday mornings. Others work in the yard or start some other project around the house. Me? I'd rather scrub off some tire rubber and burn a few gallons of premium unleaded. I've been riding and driving the same 50-mile route for over a decade. It has a wide variety of turns, plenty of elevation changes and many different pavement surfaces. It's the standard to which I judge all cars and motorcycles.
The last time I hit my loop in the 911, I had my baseball coach, Mr. Riswick in tow. This time, it was Jay Kavanagh and Caroline Pardilla in a short-term Evo X. Because of my familiarity with the route, I pretty much know where every mid-corner bump is, as well as where water and rocks tend to accumulate and where the local speed enforcers like to hide (though really, we weren't driving all that fast). I took the lead.
The Mustang is a hoot on these roads, even though it feels a little big when things get tight and technical. It's a bit like whittling with a long-handle ax -- it's possible, but certainly not the best tool for the job. There's torque everywhere in the powerband, which allowed me to stay mostly in third gear. The hairpin turns had me blipping down into second, and that's when I started to get better feel of the new tires.
The rears release from adhesion very progressively. There's no snap from grip like the Goodyear supercar tires that are on the Shelby GT500. The Michelin's on our GT give you plenty of warning and allow you to hold a wide range of slip angles with some gentle prodding of the throttle. That, to me, is the essence of driving confidence.
The drive itself was hit-and-miss. The heatwave hitting L.A. drove the bicyclists out into the canyons earlier than usual. That meant a lot more caution heading into blind turns and slowing down until I could find a safe place to pass them. We also got held up by a Lotus Elise driving 5 mph UNDER the speed limit and a pack of Mustang owners who must've really liked the smell of their own brake pads. C'mon people, downshift and give it some gas.
In the end, I was left wondering which current long-term vehicle is my favorite; the Mustang or the Porsche.
What would you pick?
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor