2011 Ford Mustang: Non-Muscle-Car Guy Approved
February 01, 2011
I actually got to drive the Mustang last night, and although I've begun calling it the Jokermobile, I must say that it's absolutely awesome.
Now, I'm not a muscle car guy by any means. I prioritize sharp handling over straight-line brute force. I like a nice interior over one featuring sheets of hard plastic nailed together. I don't find burnouts to be pornographic. Growing up in the 90s, the Mustangs, Camaros and Firebirds of the day had absolutely ZERO appeal. The ones of yore were (and are) but a mild curiosity.
And yet, I love our new Mustang.
It may look like a muscle car, it may go like a muscle car, but it also feels like a sports car that's great to drive in directions other than a straight line. The electric steering (shockingly) is very good; the shifter is one of the best I've ever used; the clutch is easy in traffic or when hauling ass; the body is controlled through corners and over most bumps. Unlike the Camaro and Challenger, it doesn't feel enormous when behind the wheel; unlike the Camaro, its wheel and shifter are shaped for a human being.
I also appreciate that its interior doesn't need to fall back on the tired excuse of "yeah, but it goes from zero to 60 in X.X seconds and therefore all other criticisms or irrelevant."Oh, there are still a few cheap pieces here and there, but sitting in a Mustang no longer feels like you're being penalized.
Come to think of it, I loved our Challenger too, but for completely opposite dynamic reasons. It looked like a muscle car, it went like a muscle car, but it also felt like a grand American touring coupe that was spacious and comfortable enough to also serve as a daily driver or road trip companion. It too had a nice interior.
Since they're so different, it's hard to pick which I like better. I do know I'd be happy to own either one, but that still doesn't make me a muscle car guy.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,660 miles