Today as we drove the 2013 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 for a thorough test we were reminded how much a world into itself this car is. This is to say, it’s different from anything else on the market in modern days, the last vestige of a thing called the muscle car.
To add to the story, the 2013 Mustang GT represents the last and final iteration of the current Mustang generation that began production for the 2005 model year. Ford is preparing an all new replacement to come next year. While it’s forlorn, this may be the best Mustang yet in build quality, handling, performance and enthusiast adoration.
Ours was an Ingot Silver Metallic GT with a six-speed manual transmission. Added was the Brembo brake package which also includes a special design 19” wheel and summer tires. Also optioned was the Recaro manual leather seats, Shaker Pro audio system, and a 3.73 axle ratio. The Rear Sensing and Security Package rounded out the options list.
The starring attraction of the Mustang GT is its now legendary 5.0 liter V8 with 420 horsepower. Likely the best engine ever to be under the hood of the Mustang, is sings a song that takes your mind and soul places special. It throws down an explosive dose of power that launches the car with a slingshot response.
It was an addictive rush to mash the throttle and row through the gears as quickly as possible, hearing and feeling this gem of an engine. This foolhardy and wasteful behavior of course hurt our gas mileage, as we averaged 16.5 mpg. The EPA estimates are 15 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. We took a freeway run which netted us 25.6 mpg average however.
We did find the shifter bushings were a bit softer than we’d like rowing through 420 horsepower. When this car accelerates you need to be quick when shifting, and the sharper less rubbery shifter from the GT-500 would be a welcome thing.
The electric power steering is a high point, likely the best steering Mustang that has ever existed. It can be set on sport, comfort or an automatic setting which gives you varied amounts of power assist. Sport mode is almost like true manual steering, comfort light and creamy, automatic a nice blend of both depending on your speed.
Through the steering wheel it feels precise and gives you the sense of and expensive tool in hand. On the windy roads it has a sharpness that makes driving fun again, losing the mushiness that hydraulic power steering has.
The suspension on the GT rides nicely for around town and highway driving. We found that when driven hard however there was pronounced squat and dive when accelerating and braking. Stiffer struts and shocks from the aftermarket might be a good idea for those planning to drive hard often.
Inside, the interior remains one of the best in Mustang lineage in the way of comfort and material quality. The dash panel is nicely done in heritage style with genuine aluminum trim. Still, the trims on the doors and console make you wish for a little more.
We really loved the Recaro seats for their look as well as their grab a hold of you and squeeze qualities. They are manually operated and adjusted which while a small note, seems out of place in a car that tips the scales at nearly $41,000.
The optional Shaker Pro audio system with its additional sub-woofer in the trunk was powerful and delivers its sound with little distortion. We wish however it had more adjustments than just bass and treble, as well as more DSP settings to fine tune its sound.
For some types of music like classic rock it delivered a nice fat sound while modern dance or pop came across flat and lifeless. Also, a single CD player in a car of this price seemed a little short and the extra woofer in the trunk takes up enough space that you really need to want that extra kick to live with it.
Despite our few gripes, the 2013 Mustang GT is likely be best of the breed to date. It can accelerate 0-60 in the high 4 second range, stop like no Mustang before it and deliver a solid practical platform for daily driving. For decades Mustang enthusiasts have asked for a more premium Mustang experience and this is it.