Motoring: 2013 - Year of the Mustang
Credit: Nauman Farooq
Ford's 2013 Mustang lineup offers an option for every type of muscle car enthusiast.
While for 2013 the Mustang is not all new, it has received some tweaks in the styling department, plus there is more power under the hood.
How much power, you ask? That will depend on your needs and budget, and since I've spent a good deal of time in all the different powertrains offered for the 2013 Mustang, it is my duty to tell you how each one is, so here goes:
Let's start with the entry-level model, the Mustang V6. This model used to be the joke of the Mustang range, since it hardly ever had the "go" to match its sporty looks. Back then, it was the poser's car, but not anymore. For 2013, the 3.7-litre V6 motor produces 305 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque. Couple that with a six-speed automatic or the six-speed manual, as in my tester, and you end up with a very pleasing sports car. Sure, it is not the fastest thing on the road, but work this motor hard and it will reward you. This is a decently quick car (zero to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds) that sounds good, too.
My tester also came with the Performance package, which gives you a unique strut-tower brace, tire mobility kit, unique front springs, unique stability control calibration, upsized front sway bar and rear sway bar, unique front and rear calipers with Performance Friction pads, and a 3.31 limited-slip rearaxle.
What all this means is that it handles very well, much better than I ever expect it to handle. It seems that Ford is being serious with the Mustang, even down to the base model. I like that.
Next in the Mustang range is the GT, which comes with the muchloved 5.0 litre V8 motor. For 2013, this version produces 420 hp and 390 lb/ft of torque. This version is also available with either a sixspeed manual or automatic gearbox, which sends power to the rear wheels. I drove both the manual and auto version this year, thanks to not only the press car, but also the press launch earlier in the year, which was held in Portland, Oregon. While the manual will remain the enthusiast's choice and is the better transmission, I was surprised how useable and still joyous the car is with the automatic gearbox. The automatic has the Select Shift feature, which lets you choose your own gear via a button on the shift lever. While the shifts are smooth, the shift times are less than impressive. A Ford engineer at the event even confessed that this transmission is a bit behind the times and that is why they don't offer it with steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters, since you'd feel its lag time even more. However, given time, I was able to work out how to best use the shift buttons and the car was quite enjoyable.
On the whole, the Mustang GT is very entertaining, but then any car that can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and top out at 270 km/h will be entertaining. Oh, one more thing: choose the option marked Track Apps, because this allows you to record your performance date from braking, cornering G-forces and acceleration times.
This Track Apps feature is a must with the next version of the Mustang, the Boss 302. This has the same 5.0 litre V8 motor as the GT, but it's also not the same motor. It might be the same size and use the same block, but this one is tweaked. This one produces 444 hp and 380 lb/ft of torque and redlines at 7,500 rpm — this one is the screamer of the bunch. This one is also not for the posers as all Boss 302 models only come as a coupe (while others are also available in convertible guise) and the only transmission offered is a quickshift six-speed manual.
This car, when you use its red key, is something quite special. It revs harder (resulting in a zero to 100 km/h sprint in just 4.2 seconds), brakes better and handles like a racing Mustang should. It is certainly one of the best, most enjoyable cars you can buy today, but it is not my favourite Mustang.
The one I want is the one they call the Snake. I'm talking about the Shelby GT500. This is the one that has a hissing snake as its ornament. Under its muscular-looking hood, you'll find an engine that is quite different from anything found in any other Ford product. It is a purpose-built, all aluminum 5.8 litre V8 that has a massive supercharger bolted on. The end result is 662 hp and 631 lb/ft of torque, all of which goes to the rear-wheels via a unique six-speed manual gearbox.
Trust me, this car is as terrifyingly fast as you think it is. Zero to 100 km/h takes just 3.5 seconds, and if you keep your foot welded to the carpet, it will nudge 325 km/h. That is seriously supercar fast.
It is also quite lethal. While most cars that are built to do such speeds are purpose-built speed machines with advanced chassis and suspension set ups and active aerodynamics, the GT500 is like a Viking's hammer in a world of laser-guided missiles. If you know what you're doing, it will reward you with numbers you've probably never seen before. Get it wrong, and it will attempt to kill you without any hesitation. Driving the Shelby GT500 is very rewarding and will get your heart beating a lot faster than it normally does.
The really crazy thing is that despite its massive performance, on a highway cruise, it also manages 10.0 litres/100 km. That is simply remarkable.
Any gripes? In my view, all Mustangs suffers from the same issues, chief among them the dull, plastic interior, plus some of the fit and finish is not up to the standard of its competition from Asia or Europe.
Still, the Mustang is a great choice for anyone looking for a fun car. Prices for the V6 model start at $23,999. The GT starts at $39,299, while the Boss 302 is yours from $48,799. The Shelby GT500 is yours from $61,999, which makes it the most affordable car that can do over 300 km/h — not that you should on public roads, it just feels good knowing you can.