2015 Ford Mustang GT: A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 3
by Mike Monticello, Senior Road Test Editor on October 18, 2015
If you've followed our road trip adventure in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT then you'll know at this point we still had yet to set tires on track. We've hiked in Yosemite, mountain biked on the trails outside of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and even attended a wedding on the Corkscrew. But we had yet to burn up rubber and brake pads in anger.
That changes now.
My first session out on track was a short one. Like, two laps short. I was waiting to give a drive-around to a friend who had never been to the track before, but he was stuck in a rider's meeting for the bike run group. This particular track day offers both car and moto groups.
Let's just say the first time braking for the top of the Corkscrew was "interesting," as the tires hadn't fully reached temperature. Lesson learned: Let the Pirelli PZeros get some good heat in them before you start charging.
The next session I got in a full allotment of laps. What seemed like a snubbed-down and poised car the previous day while charging back roads suddenly felt soft, heavy, and a bit ponderous when pushed on track. Lots of movement going on.
It simply wasn't as sharp as I envisioned as I'd pre-played the track day in my head. Not to say it was bad. Far from it actually, and it was still plenty fun. And although there's a lot of motion, the car is forgiving, and that's important on track.
The Performance Package's bigger Brembo brakes are the real deal. The pedal feel and travel varied some throughout the day, but I never had a true pedal-fade moment, like when I took our long-term 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to the track. If there's one thing that kills confidence at a track day, it's a fading brake pedal. I was thankful the Brembos held up. I also made sure to do a good cool-down lap at the end of every session.
Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh was at the track day (shown in the below photo about to head out), and he took the Mustang for a session. We share here at Edmunds. One stint was all he cared to do, however, as he was less-enthused than I and bothered by the vague steering.
I'm probably not as picky as JayKav. Sure, the Mustang isn't a true track car, but it still acquitted itself pretty well compared to most cars out there. It's fast and the exhaust sounds great at full throttle, which, ya know, you're at most of the time on track. Thankfully (and surprisingly), the Mustang didn't blow Mazda Raceway's 92-decibel limit.
The whole day was made more fun by Senior Editor Josh Jacquot. Not because he's such a blast to be around (he does have his one-liner moments), but rather because he brought the long-term 2015 Dodge Viper GT. We had a good time running out on track together, although in truth it wouldn't take him long to say "see ya, Monty" and drop the hammer on Laguna's front straight and lay waste to me. That Viper is FAST.
If you're curious about fuel economy (because that's really important at a track day), I filled up at a gas station a few miles away from the track the night before and re-filled at the same station after the track: the Mustang averaged 5.3 mpg.
What's next? A good night's rest and then back to Mazda Raceway for day two of the track weekend.
In this photo of the Mustang and Viper at rest in Pacific Grove at the previous night's wedding reception, our friend Mike Kent is not only showing off his love of the Mustang's orange paint, but also a great use for his Mitsubishi Evolution's giant rear wing: The perfect perch to sign a wedding card.
Mike Monticello, Senior Road Test Editor