2015 Ford Mustang GT: Competes With Everything
July 27, 2015
In point of fact, I ended that post by noting that the car had "totally won me over on an extended drive." But that was a 50-mile jaunt through the Santa Monica Mountains, consisting largely of tight, curvy roads that let our Mustang's sport suspension shine.
With the Mustang key in my pocket for the entire July 4th weekend, I decided it was time to get serious - up the coast to Monterey on Friday, then back to Los Angeles on Saturday.
That's about 650 miles of the best damn blacktop on the planet. And now that I'm back, I'm here to tell you why the new Mustang GT is competitive with practically every performance car you can buy.
Modern Mustangs have never had much crossover appeal. If you wanted V8 power on the cheap in the '80s, '90s or '00s, a Mustang GT made sense. But if you wanted sophistication too, you probably ended up buying something else.
But something happened this time, and it's about more than just the new independent rear suspension (remember, the Cobra had IRS back in the early 2000s and that didn't change many people's minds). Yes, this straight-line superhero now has lateral moves to match, but what's most striking is how well the whole package comes together.
The biggest win is the styling. California Highway 1 through Big Sur was teeming with Mustang rentals, but they all looked so good in the wild that it was like free advertising for the brand. I used to roll my eyes when I saw a cheesy Mustang from Hertz; now I just reflect on how Ford absolutely crushed it with this redesign. When's the last time a common rental car was a genuine object of desire? Ford's fleet strategy is now a de facto marketing campaign as well.
Perhaps most importantly, they really cleaned up the rear end. I could never get down with the previous Mustang's tail. It was too blocky when it came out in 2005 and just plain awkward when it got redesigned in 2011. But now there's that aggressive forward rake, and the taillights have individual fins rather than being one big blob. There's nothing I don't like about it.
That's the way I used to regard the Mustang. It never looked quite right. I should mention the previous generation's separate rear quarter windows, too; remember how they were weirdly high and wrong?
Problem solved. Beautiful. Just make both windows part of the same canopy. You know, like one of those Aston Martins that Ford used to own.
Waking up in Monterey on Saturday morning, I was eager to get back behind the wheel. There aren't too many cars I'd feel that way about after 350 miles the day before. The Recaros were fantastic for the whole trip, by the way. I never got stiff or sore, and I usually do.
On my way out of Monterey, I headed for Pacific Grove, a small adjacent town that came highly recommended.
Pacific Grove is full of old Victorian houses like these. It's a charmingly forgotten corner of the Monterey Peninsula. I was getting that "maybe I should just live here" kind of feeling.
Then a vintage fire truck rumbled through downtown, presumably on its way to a parade. That didn't make the feeling go away.
There's that tail again. Fantastic. The forward slant is a game-changer.
Highway 1, part deux. I could have bailed and taken the freeway home, but this is the kind of car that makes you want to turn around and do it again.
Drivers of earlier Mustangs wouldn't be nearly as enthused about this sign. But our Performance package-equipped Mustang is dialed in. The handling is sharp and controlled through the tight stuff, and that fatsuit feel mostly melts away. It's not far from true sports-car status.
Speaking of sports cars, I daresay there's a little Porsche 911 in the way those hips flare out to the tapered tail. You're not seeing things, Mr. Edmunds. Ford definitely put a dash of Zuffenhausen in there.
I can't condone the black wheels, though. Too often it just looks like there aren't rims at all.
The views on Highway 1 never get old. I try to make it up here at least once a year. I have not been moved to turn any other road into an annual tradition.
I dig the three light bars in each headlight assembly. They help make even the most basic rental Mustang pop.
Stopping in San Luis Obispo for coffee, I got a sudden eyeful of DMC in the rearview.
Fully time-machined out. You never know what's going to drive by in California.
Anyway, what was I saying? Ah yes. The Mustang competes with everything. It really does. Looks great, drives great, full of fun features (adaptive cruise control, anyone?), and it can keep up with just about anything on the road.
This may sound weird, but it reminds me of the Volkswagen GTI. You can buy something more expensive if you want, but there's really no need. If you're looking for one performance car that'll do it all, the Mustang GT is a strong candidate no matter what your budget can handle.
Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor @ 11,336 miles