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As part of my quest to buy a car here in the US, yesterday I had the pleasure of test driving a Mustang GT. I’ve been looking for something to replace my M3, and the only thing I’ve found in budget that can come close is the Mustang GT. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, since although straight line performance is similar, it’s a very different car in almost every other way.
The car was finished in a bronze-grey colour, which on any other car would look like brown, but looks incredible on the mustang. Speaking of looks, it’s an imposing looking car. I love the throwbacks to the older, fastback era mustangs. The latest generation Mustang is around since 2005, and still to this day looks like a modern car, which has aged well. Even amidst the launch of much newer Challenger and Camaros in the muscle car space, the Mustang holds it’s own.
Inside, the most noticeable feature is the large, flat, silver dashboard. It’s very ‘in your face’ – literally. The front windscreen seems very small, and the steering wheel, while supposed to look as retro as the car itself, feels like a flimsy and uncomfortable wheel to hold while driving.
On starting the car, it’s more of an eruption than a start. The 4.6l V8 roars to life in spectacular, almost alarming fashion. There’s a novelty in hearing the car start with such drama, but I wonder if this would be short lived?
The car feels pretty accesible to drive. The clutch bites like any other car, and it can be tame at lower speeds as needed. It’s certainly easier to get used to than the SMG gear box on an M3!
The car I drove was a 5 speed manual, and the gearbox is superb. The car comes from the factory with a beautiful short shifter, and it shifts perfectly. When flooring the throttle and mashing first through second, the car feels very fast – certainly a close match for the M3. But cruising in second, the power band is harder to find. Low down response is weak, even if it comes with a lot of noise. Since I was test driving a car that wasn’t mine, I can’t say I got a great feel for how things felt through the corners.
So, is the Mustang GT just a wall of noise, with little action? It’d be unfair to write the Mustang GT off in this manner. It’s still a car that sees 60 in 5 seconds. It’s still shockingly cheap – a 2013 Mustang GT is only $31k, whereas an M3 is $60k. A clean 2005 Mustang GT is $12k, a clean (previous generation E46) M3 is still $20k.
Back to my dilema – what to buy. Is the Mustang GT half the car my E46 M3 was? No, that’d be unfair.
But did my E46 M3 feel like twice the car the Mustang GT was? Almost. I’m not sure the Mustang is for me. It feels like a compromise. For now, thought is I’ll buy a cheap runabout SUV or ‘Luxobarge’ for now. I’ll then revisit my choice in the summer, when maybe I’ll have the funds to buy an E46 M3 here!