2015 Ford Mustang GT
There s nothing else like the Mustang in Ford s U.S. portfolio. It s the lone eight-cylinder car and the only rear-drive vehicle in Dearborn s arsenal that isn t a truck. That s both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, Mustang engineers have the freedom to craft their car without the constraints of shared parts. But neither does the Mustang benefit from the trickle-down economics that comes with building higher-performing Corvettes and more-expensive Cadillacs.
In a vacuum, you could be lulled into thinking that Ford perfected the American muscle car with this Mustang. Freed of its stick axle in back, the original pony car now handles corners and busted concrete with ease. The competent chassis musters 0.94 g of grip around the skidpad and executes a 70-to-zero stop in just 157 feet. The steering effort builds in a linear fashion and offers a modicum of feedback. The brake pedals in both of these cars are firm and responsive, yet the Mustang s binders start biting earlier with less pedal travel.
Top right: Speak up, son. We can t hear you. The 5.0-liter V-8 at least carries a pretty big stick.
But when you start to draw comparisons about those dynamic attributes so essential to driver satisfaction, the Chevrolet exposes the Ford s vulnerable spots; simply put, the Mustang GT is softer than the Camaro SS. The Mustang leans in corners. Under acceleration, the haunches squat and the hood rears back. The slightly slow, fixed-rate 16.0:1 steering hides a small dead spot on-center, and despite wider tires, there s not as much front-end grip as in the Camaro. That makes the Mustang more prone to understeer and less willing to rotate under throttle.
The Mustang rides on nonadjustable dampers, so even though you can toggle through the same four drive modes as those in the Camaro, you can t alter the Ford s roll resistance or ride quality. That said, the single tune of the Performance pack nicely balances ride and handling. Body motions, though large, are always deliberate, never clumsy or inaccurate. Hustling the Mustang over hills and around bends is old-school, organic fun. The Camaro, damping out impacts with minimal body motion and no sacrifice in ride quality, proves that the technology exists to do it better.
With a torque deficit of 55 pound-feet and a redline 500 rpm higher than the Chevrolet small-block s, Ford s 5.0-liter Coyote engine needs to be spun out to keep pace. Its intensity builds exponentially with revs, and, around 4000 rpm, the energy swells in an intoxicating crescendo toward 435 horsepower and the top of the tachometer. Launched at 3500 rpm, the Mustang GT will break 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and trip the quarter-mile in 13.0. The six-speed stick moves with tight, precise action, but the throws are a touch longer and the effort a bit stiffer than we prefer.
Bottom left: Baby seats for baby-sized adults.
This dual-overhead-cam engine is smoother and more civilized than the Camaro s pushrod V-8, but that doesn t necessarily rank as a positive. For one, the Coyote is too quiet. Even at full throttle, it emits a muffled thrum rather than a visceral yowl. The Camaro gets it right. Its unapologetically lumpy idle and gruff exhaust note are precisely why you didn t spend your $45,000 on a BMW M235i.
If there s one aspect where Dearborn has Detroit handily beat, it s that the Mustang is a much more practical car and far easier to live with on a daily basis. The timeless lines of the Mustang include a taller roof that, combined with a slightly higher seating position, eases ingress and egress. There s excellent outward visibility over the long hood, to either side, and through the rearview mirror. The cabin, aided by a lower beltline, feels much roomier than the Camaro s.
The Mustang s cockpit is a simple place. Considering the headaches that abound inside the Camaro, this is meant as a compliment. The clean, straightforward center stack even offers the perfect array of knobs and buttons to make the imperfect MyFord Touch tolerable. We really only have one complaint about the Mustang s cabin: The turned aluminum that spans the width of the dash is slathered in so much clear coat that it might as well be plastic.
The Ford Mustang effortlessly balances performance, comfort, sport, and practicality. It is a powerful, engaging, and value-packed daily driver. But as a performance car, as a machine designed to provoke exhilaration, the Camaro has it beat.
In This Story
Highs, Lows, and Verdict
A 7000-rpm redline and a willingness to get there, no-gimmicks interior.
Steering and chassis could be tauter, yacht-rock soundtrack.
Draws more parallels with a grand tourer than a sports car.