2005 Ford Mustang GT
2005 Mustang GT. Photo: Ford. Click image to enlarge

by Paul Williams

According to an article from Road & Track magazine, the new Ford Mustang is “exciting, stylish, comfortable and economical. It comes with the latest appointments and all-out sports racer potential.”

The thing is, that article is 40-years old. What? They could see into the future?

Apparently so, because while the prose may sound a little dated, the observations are surprisingly relevant for “our” new Mustang, the 2005 version now populating Ford showrooms across the country.

But check out the retro design. The 2005 Ford Mustang features a dramatic shape that all Mustang fans will immediately recognize. Inspired by the Steve McQueen/Bullitt-style Mustangs from 1967-69 (arguably the peak of Mustang design) the $23,795 V6 Coupe and $32,795 GT look like they time-travelled from the swinging-sixties, and got morphed into a Mustang enthusiast’s dream car on the way.

The question is, will the old-new design work for a younger buyer? So far, everyone I’ve asked under 30, under 20, under 10 even, loves the look. So I guess yes.

While some may think Ford is taking a risk in reviving the classic lines, the company is completely confident with its Mustang recipe for success, and isn’t about to deviate from it now. Affordability, style and performance are still the key ingredients.

2005 Ford Mustang GT
2005 Mustang GT. Photo: Ford. Click image to enlarge

For instance, for most of Mustang’s history, Ford has offered a choice of six or eight-cylinder engines with interior and exterior upgrade packages, and a range of options.

The 2005 version is no different, although compared to last year’s 3.8 litre V-6, the new 4.0-litre SOHC V-6 Coupe is up by 17-horsepower to 210, and 15 lb.-ft. of torque to 240. The GT also gets a power boost, generating 300-horsepower and 315 lb.-ft. torque (40-horsepower more than the ’04 GT model) from its all-new aluminum 4.6-litre V-8. And because it’s aluminum that engine is 34-kilograms lighter than the 2004 V-8 it replaces.

Five-speed manual transmissions are standard for the V-6 Coupe and GT (Tremec T-5 and Tremec 3650 respectively) and a five-speed automatic transmission, also used in the Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird, is available for both models at an extra cost of $1,220.

2005 Ford Mustang GT black interior
2005 Mustang GT. Photo: Ford. Click image to enlarge

Also like the original Mustangs, there’s an array of optional equipment and accessories from which buyers can choose to personalize their car. Ten exterior colours, four leather interiors, four alloy wheel styles, racing stripes and body kits all serve to individualize each Mustang.

Then there’s performance. Mustangs have always offered a stylish but sporty image no matter what the model, and during the “muscle car” era, some of them came with outrageous horsepower straight from the factory.

While the current V-6 is more powerful than last year’s, it’s the GT that will leave most classic Mustangs in its dust.

It comes standard with traction control and a limited slip differential (these are rear-wheel drive cars, of course) and propels the driver from 0-100 km/h in a blistering 5.4 seconds. That’s fast in anybody’s book, and really, it’s the main reason why the Mustang GT is such a value piece. What else can you buy at $32K with that kind of performance?

2005 Ford Mustang GT

2005 Ford Mustang GT

2005 Ford Mustang GT
2005 Mustang GT. Photo: Ford. Click image to enlarge

The exhaust note ranges from a V8 burble at idle, to a lusty roar under full acceleration. It’ll put a smile on your face every time you take the car through the gears, and bring it up to speed.

And just like muscle cars of old, the Mustang GT seems to hunker down as it pushes you into the supportive bucket seat on your way to the tonne (metric, of course). While accelerating, you look over a long, tall hood that reminds you of the big engine underneath, and of muscle cars of another era.

For such a powerful car, it’s not at all hard to drive. Shifting is smooth and precise, and the clutch is surprisingly light. In fact, the whole car feels solid, composed and capable whether accelerating, cornering or stopping.

Mustang’s notoriously choppy suspension has largely been tamed by a significant increase in wheelbase and track, coupled with a revised MacPherson strut front suspension with a 34-mm stabilizer bar, and a Panhard rod attached to a re-worked live-axle rear suspension.

This year’s Mustang is approximately 110-mm longer and 20-mm wider than last year’s, with the front wheels 125-mm farther ahead than last year’s car.

Brakes are ventilated four-wheel discs, and bigger than last year’s with stiffer calipers. The GT gets 316mm front discs, and 300mm discs at the rear, while for the V-6, it’s 297-mm front/300-mm rear. Anti-lock is standard for the GT, and available on the V-6 as part of a $995 handling package that includes traction control.

Both models feature power mirrors, power locks, keyless entry, cruise control, tilt steering, a six-way power driver’s seat, air conditioning and a block heater as standard equipment. The GT arrives with fog lights, 17″ aluminum wheels (versus 16″ on the V-6) and a new Shaker 500 audio system with a six-disc CD changer and MP3 player (a premium Shaker 1000 system is available for $1,975).

Inside, the retro-theme continues, with a dual-binnacle instrument panel with chrome surrounds that’s clearly inspired by the ‘Sixties cars. One difference is that the illumination for the dashboard can be driver-selected from 125 colours.

Quality throughout is very good, but don’t expect teutonic precision throughout. There’s still a “rough and ready” Mustang feel to the car, which in my view is acceptable. Like the Subaru WRX or Sti, you’re not going to get this performance for this price and get the full luxury treatment as well.

What’s next for the Mustang? A convertible is on its way early in 2005, and with its new sheetmetal, don’t count out a Boss Mustang, an SVT Mustang and maybe even a revived, limited edition, Hertz rental Mustang. After all, Ford owns Hertz, so why not?

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