In fifth gear at 80 mph, the long gears of the 5-speed manual put rpms at a shade over 2,000. The engine emits a barely audible low hum, and with light throttle inputs, we were averaging up to 25 mpg on extended freeway jaunts with an overall average of about 22. But downshift to third and stomp the throttle, and this pony goes from a soothing hum to an adrenal roar, kind of like a feeding filly suddenly getting stuck in the hide with an adrenaline syringe.
As mentioned, quality improvements with the 2010 Mustang are the most notable in contrasting from previous generations. Take the dashboard for example, which retains its muscular twin-cowl look, but is now one single piece which eliminates all rattles and squeaks. For our entire week-long drive racking up over 600 miles with the Mustang, not one noise resulting from poor interior assembly could be heard. The outside isn’t quite up to the level of the inside, with a plasticky rear GT badge tainting an otherwise impressive presentation.
What’s the point in designing an attractive car from the outside, if, once you get in, the interior looks like a Budget rental car? Take the new Challenger for instance. Gorgeous on the outside, heinous on the inside. Heinous enough to turn buyers away completely. For the Mustang, this is not the case. The exterior attracts you to the car, and the interior makes you want to get inside. Cheap, multi-paneled plastic has been replaced with attractive single-piece metal panels. LED accent lights adorn both door panels, footwells, and center console. Dash gauges and the center stack are illuminated with an attractive ice blue color. And the vintage-inspired, leather-wrapped, horn button steering wheel is grabadocious, with all radio and cruise controls tastefully integrated.
Although we absolutely love the interior, there are a few minor quibbles which Ford can easily remedy with future models. The first is an annoying ice blue reflection in the windshield at night which comes from the gauges. It’s like sitting beneath a neon light at a drive-thru, except it follows you everywhere you go. A simple extension of the dash cowl can remedy this problem. Another is the armrest behind the shifter, which has a push button which vertically lifts a stowage door. When resting your arm on the console, the button is perfectly placed right below your elbow, depressing the button, and repeatedly lifting the stowage door every time you move your arm. And the third minor quibble is a wiring harness bundle which sits a little too close to the clutch pedal, which we kept inadvertently kicking with our left foot. Oh, and the rear seats? Unless your passengers are under the age of 5 or dual leg amputees, forget it.
Other than these minor issues, the interior is stellar. Simple, yet functional and stylish with all of the features you need and none of the whiz-bang doohickies Luddites like this author can’t stand. Navigation is optional, and the Mustang can be equipped with Ford’s Sync system; in our opinion, the best voice recognition system available.
If Ford’s designers were going for an aggressive, mean, ballsy, ass-kicking attitude, they hit the mark. Park the 2010 next to a 2009, and you’ll immediately see what I mean. In comparison, the 2009 looks meek, wimpy, even. From the front, the smaller, more sharply-angled headlights, larger pony emblem and bulging hood stare down anyone looking out their rearview mirror. From the sides, the subtle door end kick-ups, although minor, make a considerable visual improvement. And from the rear, not only are the taillights larger and more pronounced, by they’re powered by directional LEDs, which light sequentially to the left or right depending which way you flick the turn signal.
Another trick feature is Ford’s new “Easy Fuel” capless filling system, which we absolutely love and continue to wonder why it took so long to invent.
Park a 1970 Boss 302 next to a 2010 Mustang, and the visual similarities are obvious. There’s no question in our mind that a throwback 302 special edition model will be in the Mustang’s future.
The Mustang has built a reputation for delivering V8 power on the cheap; it’s one of the marque’s cornerstones. But historically, cheap power has also come packaged with cheap design, cheap interior, cheap build quality, cheap etc, etc, etc. The 2010 has broken the cycle of cheapness on all fronts except for price. With an expected base of about $28,850 for the GT, the Mustang represents an exceptional value which not only delivers visceral V8 power, but a rock-solid, well-built, attractive muscle car that can be daily driven with comfort and evokes a tinge of, dare we say, sophistication.
Who Should Buy It?
The clear, obvious and consistent answer is Mustang enthusiasts. It doesn’t matter if the car only came with three wheels and a missing door, so long as a V8 is under the hood, pony-partial patrons would still buy it. But the not so clear and obvious answer is someone looking for a sporty, attractive rear-wheel-drive coupe powered by a V8 who would never in a million years ever even consider a Mustang because of its historically bad quality reputation and seemingly unshakable mullethead stigma.
Our week with the new Mustang was far too short. It’s without question the car that was hardest to part with. We still dream about the raucous growl of full-throttle stomps and the aggressive looks in Grabber Blue which generated countless stop-and-chats and thumbs-up on the open road. Not only did this car make us feel special because it’s preproduction, but it made us feel good because it’s a quality product with an iconic American badge that’s made in North America. Let’s hope Ford can make it through the financial maelstrom intact, because if they do, the glory days will be upon us once again.
|Official website for Ford cars, hybrids, trucks, and SUVs – www.ford.com|
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