Back in the ‘60s, Ford engineers and designers came up with a novel idea: taking the mechanical bits of the North American spec Ford Falcon and giving it some stylish new clothes. What they gave birth to was the 1964.5 Ford Mustang, and it proved to be a hit. In the first 18 months of production, Ford sold its millionth Mustang, a record that has yet to be broken by any sports car.
|1. For 2013 the 5.0L V8 GT model now makes 420-hp at 6500 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm, using premium fuel.
2. Ford’s new “Track Apps” lets you measure your own 0-60 mph and 1/4 mile times, G-forces and braking distances.
3. For 2013, V6 models start at slightly less than last year, retailing for $22,200. V8 models, however, now top $30K at $30,300.
Nowadays, records are set on social media sites, where Ford continues to dominate, with the Mustang being the most popular sports car on Facebook with over 3.6-million “Likes.”
For 2013, much like every other year it seems, Ford is offering its customers a revised Mustang. Will this latest version recapture the sales glory of the original, or will it just be a social media darling? To find out, we traveled to Portland, Ore., to try the updated pony car.
REFRESHED LOOK, ONCE AGAIN
Changes are subtle from a visual perspective, but keen eyes will catch them quickly. For instance, there is a new grille and splitter at the front. There are new functional hood scoops on the GT model, while all versions benefit from body colored rocker panels. LED lights in the front and rear further update the exterior, while the space between the taillights is blacked out, to give the car a more sinister look. Other small changes improve down-force at higher speeds according to the Ford engineers.
All in, it looks better than ever, and you can choose to make yours stand out even more by picking from a list of 12 different alloy wheels, including three new designs for 2013.
SO MANY CHOICES
The choices don’t end there: as usual, both coupe and convertible body styles are available. There are also four engines to choose from. Along with high-performance the Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 there are the 3.7-liter V6 and the amazing 5.0-liter V8.
The same V6 engine remained for 2013. This naturally aspirated V6 still produces 305 hp at 6500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm. For 2013, the 5.0-liter V8 is a little bit stronger. The 5.0 V8 now makes 420-hp at 6500 rpm on premium fuel but drops to 402 hp on regular fuel. Torque is 390 lb-ft at 4250 rpm, again on premium fuel, with that figure dropping slightly to 377 lb-ft with regular gas.
With the engine, the body and the wheels selected, it’s time to choose between a six-speed manual gearbox, or a six-speed automatic with SelectShift. Many Mustang fans think of a V8 exhaust note as music, but if you prefer a different sound track you can choose between a 370-watt stereo and a 500-watt stereo system. New for this year, Ford decided to offer optional sports Recaro seats previously only available with the GT500 model.
The V6 model gets an optional ‘Performance Package’ which adds a strut tower brace, front and rear sway bars, unique front springs, plus stronger front and rear brake calipers with performance friction pads that can take more braking abuse. However, from the outside, the only clues that you’re driving a V6 Performance Pack Mustang is by sighting its unique 19-inch painted alloy wheels and gloss black side mirror caps.
‘TRACK APPS’ LET YOU MEASURE MUSTANG’S PERFORMANCE
The “Track Apps” were a particularly cool option available on all new Mustang models. Now you can record your 0-60 mph and 0-100 mph acceleration times. There’s also an available G-meter, and even means to record braking distances.
Being able to record driving data was fun, but the ‘Countdown Start,’ offered the most childish temptation. The 4.2-inch LCD display between the gauges shows a tree of lights familiar to anyone who has been to a drag strip. As the lights make their way down, launch the car when they turn green. Hilariously fun, yes, but it begs for bad behavior and speeding tickets.
Despite the near-excessive number of ways you can spec out the 2013 Ford Mustang, due to time constraints we only had time to test one Mustang during our drive program and we couldn’t resist the GT.
Our test car was an automatic, which was less than thrilling from a driving enthusiast perspective, but then again more people choose the automatic these days, for reasons we can’t fathom.
The new automatic has Ford’s SelectShift feature, which allows you to change gears as you wish. Unfortunately there isn’t even the illusion of a faux manual. No shifter feel, no parts moving to and froe. Instead, you get a small button placed on the gear lever with a plus (+) and minus (-) mark. It was frustrating to use and totally unsatisfying.
Why didn’t Ford fit the Mustang with paddle shifters? We asked one of the Mustang’s engineers and he confessed that the shift times on this transmission are not the quickest and so Ford didn’t want to create any false impressions.
With the brand’s switch to dual-clutch gearboxes on its small cars, we also asked if Ford will ever offer a Mustang with a dual-clutch transmission. We didn’t get an answer but the Ford rep smiled silently after the question.
So for now, if you want an automatic Mustang, this is it. On the plus side, during normal use, it’s a smooth gearbox, and when using it in the sports mode, it remains in gear until you hit the upshift button, even if the engine is bouncing off the rev-limiter.
ON THE STREET
With a car capable of producing plenty of thrills, the weather did not cooperate. We suffered through rain during the entire drive. With a route along some very twisty, wet roads with no guardrails and steep drops (sometimes on both sides), its handling limits went untested.
Still, the Mustang impresses. Few would ever know this car still has a live-beam rear axle, its geometry so well developed, it will silence most critics. It’s competent and reassuring, even when covering ground quickly.
Traction and stability control systems help deliver a high-level of driving feel that still allows you to have some fun, and then gently reels you in, rather than kicking in too early and spoiling the thrill.
The Mustang has always been about fun, and we’re glad Ford engineers haven’t forgotten about that.
Nor did they forget about how important a good exhaust note is. The V8 Mustang always sounded good, but the 2013 is even better.
So is the new Mustang perfect? No, not quite. Despite the improvements, we still wish it had better brakes and a steering wheel that wasn’t lifted from the deck of a pirate ship, the interior is starting to feel pretty dated too.
If you’re tempted to buy one, the base V6 coupe is yours from $22,200. If you want a convertible, add $5,000 to that figure. The six-speed manual is standard, but the automatic is a $1,195 option.
If you prefer the roar of the 5.0-liter, V8 ‘GT’ model (we most certainly do), prices start at $30,300, which is a great value for the fun you can have with this car.
So the most popular sports car on Facebook is worthy of the attention it receives. Will there be a million of these new Mustang’s on our roads in less than two-years time? We’d gladly park one in the AutoGuide garage to help Ford reach the mark.