Pedro Arrais review: Mustang GT is potent, fun to drive

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Driving a tri-coat yellow 2018 Ford Mustang GT is akin to waving a red cape in front of a bull.

Thankfully, Ford has included nifty technology to put you less in the bulls-eye of traffic enforcement officials — and sensitive neighbours.

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That Ford did so while making the Mustang even more fun to drive is a testament to the engineers keeping this modern-day classic on the road.

Classic? Absolutely. Just this week, Ford rolled out its 10-millionth Mustang.

Get behind the wheel and crank up the 5.0-litre V-8 and you will understand why.

There’s much ado about the engine for 2018. First off, Ford ditched a spray-in coating for the cylinder walls, opting for more durable steel liners. The engine now can rev up to 7,400 rpm, an increase of 400 rpm from last year’s engine and compression rises to 12.0:1.

Direct injection now joins port injection for better fuel economy, while horsepower has increased from 435 to 460.

That last point is significant, as it is only 66 horses fewer than its Shelby 350 brethren. It even beats out its long-term nemesis, the Chevrolet Camaro SS, which can only muster 455 hp out of a 6.2-litre V-8 (the 5.7-litre equipped Dodge Challenger R/T trails the pack with only 375 hp).

In a three-way race from zero to 100 km/h by the three pony cars, the Mustang unfortunately trails the pack.

But if you get away from just racing at stoplights — very illegal of course — and take the Mustang to a track, the picture changes.

Ford now offers an optional $3,700 GT Performance package, with black staggered 19-inch wheels and tires — 255/40 ZR-19s in the front and 275/40 ZR-19s in the back, wearing ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber.

The package throws in a decklid spoiler, a 3.73-ratio Torsen limited-slip differential, larger Brembo six-piston front brakes, a tighter suspension and more efficient engine cooling.

This is some serious fun for the right driver.

The car I tested put frosting on the cake by adding a dual exhaust with quad tips ($1,000).

The engine starts up with a rumble that will gladden the heart of any sports-car enthusiast.

It is here where some wizardry is employed.

If you live in a quiet neighbourhood with people who frown at the sound of a muscle car, simply flick a switch and the exhaust quietens immediately.

Get back on the open road, choose the Track setting, and the intoxicating sound of a V-8 reaching for its redline returns. Back off the gas and the Mustang barks and spits like an angry animal.

I haven’t had this much fun since my last Porsche Turbo.

Play with some of the settings and you will find the car even comes with Launch Control (shades of the Porsche Turbo again).

The difference is that there is no turbo lag, just buckets of power at just about any speed.

My tester came with a six-speed manual transmission. What you will find is that the redline comes up fast (you can also program the car to remind you to shift at a particular rpm). Left in a gear, you can loaf around knowing you can access the power almost instantly.

Handling is much improved thanks to the optional MagneRide damping system ($2,000), a new option for 2018. You can now dive into a corner harder and faster, with the suspension adapting to changing road surfaces faster than a conventional hydraulic system.

Just be cautious when you take your pony out for your first drive — the Brembo brakes are sensitive. More likely than not, you will jerk to your first or second stop.

You can set the drive mode to Normal, Sport+ or Track, with different throttle mapping, steering effort, suspension settings and exhaust timbre. A My Pony button lets you mix and match between the different parameters and customize your drive.

The interior is pretty much carried over from last year.

If you are ticking off the options for your car, you might want to think twice about ordering the optional Recaro seats. They fit me well, but I am a small guy. If you have a sizable torso, I guarantee that the side bolsters will detract, rather than enhance, your driving pleasure.

Depending on your desire for attention (from law enforcement, not the opposite sex), you might or might not want the optional racing stripes that could advertise your intention to break speed limits.

With a list price of $62,438, my Mustang GT wasn’t cheap, but the thrills certainly were.

THE SPEC SHEET

Type: Two-door sports coupe, front engine, rear-wheel-drive

Engine: 5.0-litre V-8, 460 hp at 7,000 r.p.m., 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,600 r.p.m.

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Dimensions (mm): Length, 4,789; width, 1,916; height, 1,380; wheelbase, 2,720

Curb weight (kg): 1,995

Price (base/as tested): $47,288/ $62,438 (includes $1,750 freight and PDI and $100 AC tax)

Options: Yellow Tri-coat $550, Premier trim package $2,000, GT Performance package $3,700, Safe and Smart package $1,500, racing stripes $600, dual exhaust with quad tips $1,000, engine block heater $150, Recaro leather seats $1,800, Magne-Ride damping $2,000

Tires: 255/40 R19 front and 275/40 R19 rear on alloy wheels

Fuel type: Premium

Fuel economy (L/100km): 16.1 city/ 9.9 highway

Warranty: Three years/60,000 km new car, five years/100,000 km powertrain and roadside assistance

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