Can anyone look at the all-new 2005 Mustang and say that Ford didn’t get it right? This sixth generation of the original “pony car” combines 1965 styling cues with a heavily modified and stiffened architecture borrowed from the Lincoln LS/Thunderbird to produce a retro vehicle with up-to-the-minute mechanicals.

The Mustang comes as a coupe or convertible; both models offer a V6 or V8. For the first time in a Mustang, a five-speed automatic is optional. Last year’s 260 hp, iron-block V8 trades up to an aluminum engine that churns out 300 horses; last year’s 193 hp pushrod V6 is eclipsed by a SOHC 210 hp engine.

The chassis is all-new, with advanced MacPherson struts and a three-link live axle for surefooted handling and an improved ride; the wheelbase has been extended 152 mm; and interior room has been increased. An industry-new, optional colour-configurable instrument cluster allows bored drivers to blend the speedometer’s backlight to one of 125 possible colours.

There is only one trim line for each engine size. The V6 comes with four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch cast aluminum wheels, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, rear deck lid spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, six-way power driver’s seat and CD player. The convertible also includes a five-bow power top and glass rear window with defogger.

The GT adds traction control, ABS, rear stabilizer bar, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, fog lamps, sport bucket seats, and a “Shaker 500” six-disc CD/MP3 player with six speakers.

It may look like the 1960s, but it sure doesn’t drive like it. Throaty, powerful and yet lithe on its feet, it’s light-years ahead of the 2004 model it replaces in performance and handling. The largest discs ever fitted to a production Mustang bring to it to a decisive halt – which just gives you a reason to put it through its gears again.

Of course, just like in the old days, Carroll Shelby is back on board, joining Ford’s SVT team to create a fire-breathing, 450 hp Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 that should be available for 2006.

The Mustang is built in Flat Rock, Michigan.

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