2017 Ford Mustang Driving Impressions

The turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost is plenty quick, squirting to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, but it feels nothing like a muscle car. It starts with a wave of strong torque and pulls strong for about three-fourths of the way to redline, but the artificial buzz of the engine is a turnoff that makes you miss a V8 burble. We think the Ford acoustic engineers need to re-do the piped-in sound system.

The handling is far more nimble and forgiving than it was before 2015, with no rear-wheel hop, thanks to sending the live axle to the rubbish bin.

We got good seat time zipping through L.A. traffic and Malibu canyons, trying the different driving modes. We drove a Mustang Eco with the 6-speed paddle-shifting automatic. We found throttle and shift response slow until we set it the transmission to Sport mode, which kept the engine came in its wide powerband, and any lag time disappeared. Even with the four-cylinder turbo’s wide powerband, it seemed like closer gear ratios would be good.

No such issue with the strong and intense 435-horsepower V8 in the Mustang GT. It shows off the wonderfully composed road manners, from the strut front and independent rear suspension with a serious limited-slip differential, and standard 18-inch wheels. There’s great ride isolation with smooth damping no dive or squat, and precise electric steering in any mode: Comfort, Normal or Sport. With GT’s four-piston front brakes and wide tires, it turns neat and quick into corners.

The modes adjust response from the throttle, steering, transmission and stability control. Another mode is wet/snow. There’s also available launch control, which prevents wheel-spinning burnouts, and line lock that enhances drag racing or showing off like a teenager.

If it’s fast cornering you want most, the Performance Package for the GT replaces the limited-slip differential for a Torsen unit, and adds Pirelli P Zero tires (255/40R fronts, 275/40R rears), Brembo brakes, strut-tower braces, and stiffer sway bars, springs, and dampers. It sticks to the ground in an impressive manner, maybe better than the BMW M4 that’s much more expensive.

Last but not least there’s the Shelby GT350. It’s unrivaled in Mustang history, with its flat-plane 5.2-liter V8 and MagneRide suspension that uses magnetic electronic damping. It’s a bit brittle on the road, not quite as friendly as a Camaro SS, but it’s a stunning track car.

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