It might be love.Matthew DeBord/BI
- I’ve driven three different versions of the iconic Ford Mustang in the past 12 months.
- They’ve ranged rom the peppy Ford Mustang EcoBoost four-cylinder to the beastly Shelby GT350.
- In the end, I liked the least powerful Ford ‘Stang the best.
While the Chevy Corvette has been around since the early 1950s — that exuberant heyday of American automotive styling — the Ford Mustang, introduced in 1965, is arguably more iconic.
The mighty ‘Stang has been in continuous production ever since and has recently become the world’s best-selling sports car, as Ford has taken the bold two-door global.
Ford has been having some troubles of late. This week, CEO Jim Hackett announced that it would spend $11 billion restructuring over the next three-to-five-years. It’s also looking for lower profits in the 2018. But nobody expects the Mustang to go anywhere. In fact, a gas-electric hybrid could be on the way.
Over the past 12 months or so, I’ve been able to sample three different flavors of Mustang: the entry-level turbo four-cylinder, the sweetspot GT with a 5.0-liter V8 — and the brutal Shelby GT350, with its 5.2-liter V8 engine, dubbed “Voodoo,” that can make 526 horsepower and, thanks to its flat-crank design, a sweetly aggressive exhaust note.
They’re all different, all fun, and all Mustang. So which did I like best? Read on to find out.
But my favorite ‘Stang is the little EcoBoost turbo!
And that is because I am an aging enthusiast who kind of just wants to drop the top and tool around town or take a spin on the weekends on some good driving roads with a view of a lake or an ocean and not be under “I wanna be a race car driver” pressure.
For this type of duty, the least potent Mustang is ideal. It’s plenty past enough, easy to handle thanks to the the automatic transmission, and almost tossable in the curves due the lightweight EcoBoost four up front in place if the heftier V8s. The exhaust note isn’t exactly sublime — for that, the “Voodoo” V8 in the GT350 is the way to go. But it still doesn’t sound like a boring mass-market sedan. There’s Mustang spirit in there.
In fact, that Mustang spirit traces its equestrian lineage back to the earliest pony cars. The first-generation Mustang only cranked out about 120 horsepower, so while it had pep, it didn’t exactly scream speed. The latest little ‘Stang is almost like a roadster, save for the back seat, compared to its more powerful big brothers.
And that was fine by me. At under $35,000, I thought the car was tough to bet against. Sure. you’ll fight the stigma of driving the “rental car” Mustang. But who cares? Just because somebody can rent this car, that doesn’t mean its less fun. Or less great.
And it is great. The GT is for the Mustang purists, and the GT350 is for Mustang fans who don’t like to hold back on anything in life.
But the turbo four is for the rest of us. The people’s Mustang!