Tag Archives: 2010 Mustang GT

Black Beauty: Taking the 2010 Ford Mustang GT to the Streets of Houston

Vehicle: 2010 Ford Mustang GT Coupe Premium Price-as-tested: $35,470 Major equipment: 4.6L 3V OHC V8 engine, 5-speed manual transmission, Premium trim package ($395 option), 19" wheels ($1,095 option), Safety Package ($395 option), Comfort group ($595 option), Glass roof ($1,995 option) In the fleet: 1/29/2009 - 2/5/2009 Approximate mileage driven: 430 Birthdays. I celebrated my twenty-first by drinking until I fell over, and my insurance company celebrated my twenty-fifth by cutting my rate a few bucks -- but I haven't felt much like celebrating my thirtieth, which happened this past month.  Still, the past twenty-nine years haven't been short of good (or bad) times, particularly with regards to cars. On nearly any given day of the week during my high school years, I spent at least a couple of hours a day wrenching on cars with my friends. One friend had a beautiful red '68 Mustang with a 351 Windsor engine and the transmission out of a '91 Mustang LX 5.0 in it.  Another had a '69 Mach One, complete with shaker hood and the original 3-speed manual transmission.  Somewhere between the time spent under those hoods and the nights running down the Houston freeways, I became a real Mustang fan. When I left high school, I put away my wrenches, went to work, and started appreciating other aspects of performance automobiles: finely finished interiors, refined styling, handling.  The Mustangs of the time never embodied any of these qualities, so I could never convince myself to buy one.  Though Ford made great strides in performance and quality with the 2005-2009 S197 Mustangs, I still felt there was room for improvement.  The dashboards were still made of plastics that resembled my kitchen cutting boards, and the handling remained sloppy at best when corners were thrown into the mix.  Even with those flaws, however, the S197 gave me some hope that there might someday be another Mustang to capture my heart the way the old cars did. Perhaps it was divine intervention that a 2010 Mustang GT was to be delivered to me for evaluation the week of my 30th birthday, because if there was ever a pony car to rekindle an old flame, this is the one. At first glance, the 2010 Mustang GT might appear to be nothing more than a slight design refresh of the S197, but a closer examination tells the truth: these are big changes.  On the outside, the styling of the 2010 Mustang GT has been substantially updated, sharing only the roof panel with the 2009 model.   The new headlamps, which feature integrated turn indicators, hearken back to the Mustang of the early 70's, while a redrawn rear quarter-panel and fender line pays tribute to the 1969 Mustang Fastback that I so loved.   All this is topped off by a new "Power Dome" hood that gives the 2010 Mustang a much more muscular look than its predecessor.  This new beauty isn't just skin deep, with Ford citing a seven percent reduction in drag, and a 23 percent reduction of front end lift from the updated sheetmetal. On the inside, nearly every bit of the Mustang's interior has been reworked, with the only carry-over being the door cards and other very minor pieces of trim.  The rental grade two-piece dashboard and center stack is gone, replaced with a very clean looking one-piece dashboard and instrument panel complete with new HVAC vents and an updated gauge cluster.  All the hard plastics of the dashboard and center console have been replaced with high grade soft touch materials.  Center stack controls feature the high quality HVAC and radio controls that have made their appearance on other recently updated Ford products, and are very easy to use. NVH is way down from the S197, thanks to strategic additions of sound padding and revised window seals.  It's so quiet that ford actually pumps engine sounds into the cabin by way of a "loud-tube", similar to the arrangement in the BMW Z4.  This loud-tube connects the intake to the firewall and delivers the smooth sounds of the Mustang's V8 to the occupants while keeping annoying road noise out.  Though I didn't care for the bright red leather seats or steering wheel of our test car, I really did enjoy the glass roof option.  The glass roof covers nearly the entire passenger seating area, and really adds a nice touch to the already high class interior.  Ford says this glass roof panel only adds 24 pounds to the weight of the Mustang, but at $1,995 it becomes an expensive alternative to a traditional sunroof.  If you aren't a convertible kind of person but love natural light, this is a great compromise.  Once out on the road, I immediately noticed significant improvements to the Mustang's ride and handling.  For 2010, Ford has updated the suspension on the Mustang with firmer springs, larger stabilizer bars, and recalibrated shock absorbers.  Ford has also added a strut tower bar for models equipped with the optional 19" wheel and tire package to increase chassis stiffness.    These improvements result in a far more neutral handling car than the old model, and significantly less body roll.  Even though our test car was equipped with all-season Pirelli performance tires, the car seemed to have much more pavement bite than the old car with ultra high performance summer tires.   Ford's AdvanceTrac stability control is now standard, and offers a sport mode that allows you a bit more freedom to kick the tail out.  Because our tester was not equipped with the optional TrackPack, there was no way to defeat the electronic nanny completely.  About the only area where Ford really hasn't done much to improve the 2010 Mustang is under the hood.  The 4.6L V8 is pretty much a direct carryover from the previous car, with the exception of a cold-air intake setup and a heaver crank damper that increases the redline by 250 RPM; both of which were borrowed from the 2009 Bullitt Mustang.  The result is a very mild power increase of 15 horsepower to 315.  Peak torque has been increased by 5 lb-ft to 325, but isn't found until a rather lofty 4,250 RPM.   As with the old car, the 2010 Mustang certainly has enough power to get the job done, but rather ironically, the chassis is ahead of the engine.  The competition is ahead (the Challenger R/T has 375-plus horsepower, and the Camaro 2SS is expected to clear 400), so I have to wonder what Ford has up their sleeves.   Another 50 or so horsepower would make the Mustang damn near perfect.  There might be hope just over the horizon though, as rumors of the return of a 5.0 liter V8 in the Mustang are spreading through the enthusiast community like wildfire.   Ford has denied all rumors of the new engine, but common sense says that Ford isn't going to let their iconic car get overshadowed by the upcoming Camaro. By spending money where it counts, Ford has massaged an aging platform into a true performer.  Ford has also given interior-quality fetishists that much less to complain about by updating the Mustang's interior to be a contender for best in class.  All things considered, the 2010 Mustang GT is a vast improvement over the outgoing model, and really needs more than a casual glance to appreciate all the changes. I absolutely loved everything about the Mustang, and driving it reminded me what it was like to feel young and invincible again.  This is THE Mustang that has made me fall in love with the brand all over again.  Sure cars like the R8 and Viper are a blast to drive, but they are fantasy cars to me.  The new Mustang is a dream car that is easily within reach to me and most Americans.  That said, a new Mustang is certainly in my future when it comes time to add a garage mate to my Audi TT sometime in 2010.  Not only can I not wait to drive one again, I can't wait to finally own one.

Mustang Drifts Japan: America’s performance mainstay is an ambassador abroad.

[Download 2010 Mustang Drifts Japan Wallpaper (7mb .zip file)]
Tokyo's Grand Hyatt garage was the site of a telling diplomatic summit. As flashy ex-pats shuttled out of pricey European and Japanese metal, a red 2010 Ford Mustang found itself in cosmopolitan company. I figured that, among caches of cachet, the muscle-bound Mustang would fidget. However, in a singular moment, the Mustang demonstrated capability without the arrogance of a neighboring Ferrari, individualism without the pretense of a Bentley, and accessibility without the apology of an anonymous Toyota. I could have cried. You see, this Michigan-fresh Mustang had a stock American head unit, not calibrated to receive Japanese FM frequencies. I left my auxiliary input cable at home in an attempt to force myself to sample native beats, but the Mustang's dial was dead. I would have been out of luck for the 300-km drive to Ebisu Circuit in Fukushima -- but I had a thumb drive loaded with awkward indie-rock, and this Mustang was SYNCed. A USB oasis. Who wouldn't well with pride?
Over the next few days, I witnessed the potency of Mustang diplomacy. Though it may spell the death of well-fed travel writers, what I discovered was cultural sameness. At least some familiarity could be attributed to residents' casual near-mastery of the English language, with the balance comprised of authentic courtesy and friendliness. Most vehicles on the tolled highway to Ebisu could fit the description of "greige, boxy and conformist," and yet, rare enclaves of car culture were certainly present. One jobber at a Shell station certainly understood.
Upon arrival at Ebisu, the mission's success didn't rest solely on the shoulders of one Mustang. Guinness-setting drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. piloted a Ford Racing-prepped cognate, meeting D1 Grand Prix drivers on their own turf and tossing them the keys. D1GP driver Yoshinori Koguchi and series champ Daigo Saito worked the Mustang over separate tracks at Ebisu. Both conveyed their amazement at its driftability -- and attainability.
During taped interviews for Japanese press, Gittin's energetic X-Games-style was punctuated with genuine temperances of "I love Japan" and "I'm honored to be here." Internationally diplomatic, Gittin's message must reach a much closer demographic: American millennials who would otherwise write off the Mustang entirely. At home or abroad, "Captain Clutch Kick" speaks to a burgeoning generation raised to love imported sports cars that are now largely out of production. Of the three D1 cars to meet Gittin's Mustang, only one -- a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution -- is available to increasingly drift-conscious buyers in the United States.
Gittin, who still owns his first Nissan 240SX drift machine, understands the demographic on a personal level. “I never gave a Mustang a chance,” Gittin said in a Speed:Sport:Life exclusive interview. “The new [2005] Mustang was so beautiful. The first time I drove it, I was hooked.” Though the S197 won Gittin over, an assortment of asterisks kept the previous-generation Mustang from competing on the world stage as a bona fide grand tourer. The last Mustang’s interior was rich in thematic design, but rendered in broke-status monotone plastics. This time, the twin-brow dash is stitched with soft padding that shades a mock-alloy center stack. Ecology-conscious soy foam seats are swathed in declarative red-and-white leather, a truly opulent color scheme among competitors who are too meek to offer anything beyond “safe” greige swatches.
As the drift team crossed Japan, the GT earned its badge. The S197’s intense brake dive has been moderated. The small-diameter deep-dish steering wheel transmits weight and road feel instead of harshness. Road noise is muffled by acoustic piping that routes rich V8 sound into the cabin at all speeds. While cruising, the note is present, but not bassy enough to drone; additional revs reveal a technical, multi-dimensional soundtrack that evokes images of a speeding valvetrain instead of a loping cam. During a photo shoot, the Mustang’s backseat proved easier to endure than the 2010 Camaro’s rear seats – and an optional glass roof should be healthy for children, too.
The package is wrapped in a refined evolution of the S197’s “retrofuturist” sheetmetal. This time, designers starched the Mustang’s clothing at more severe angles to present the illusion of a shortened hood and decklid. Engineers ensured shrunken shutlines and consistent panel fits that the previous Mustang sometimes craved. Intricate headlamp assemblies and standard sequential rear turn signals lend a level of sophistication that might convince enthusiasts to leave their Fox Body clichés at home. The challenge, Gittin says, is to get hesitant drivers behind the wheel. “I always tell everyone, ‘it is Ford’s motto, but really, you don’t understand a Mustang until you drive one,’” Gittin said. In that sense, the Mustang’s journey meant more than gratuitous tire torture. The transcontinental trip signified the Mustang’s readiness to take on all comers, from all countries, in all areas. Only abroad could the Mustang’s world-class strengths – raw power backed by workable handling dynamics, emotive design, and a cutting edge infotainment suite – be so apparent. In a Tokyo garage, the SYNCed Shaker sound system pounded that point.

Mustang Drifts Japan: Not Just a B-Movie Anymore

[High-Resolution Photo Gallery] + [Utterli Microblog Feed] Speed:Sport:Life and highmileage.org trailed Guinness-setting drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. all the way to Japan, and disappointingly discovered a dearth of wireless connectivity. Go figure. Instead of a live video microblog, S:S:L will bring readers a daily digest of Captain Clutch Kick's first sideways excursion at Ebisu Circuit. Vaughn's 2010 Mustang has been tuned with Ford Racing accessories to deliver over 500 horsepower -- enough to shred two sets of fresh Azenis per day. Don't worry, they're free... Friday, 6 March [22:00] Upon arrival into Tokyo Station from Narita Airport, "ka-kichi" (car-crazy) travelers would do well to visit the Tomica store. Or not... half of my souvenir money has already been spent on incredibly obscure diecasts. Saturday, 7 March [09:00] The climb to Ebisu is lined by a drive-through safari that houses two rhinos, a cheetah, wolves, and flamingos. [09:15] All kinds of JDM skunk fills the paddocks between Ebisu's eight tracks. Spotted: a Toyota Caldina, a slammed JDM Odyssey, [etc]. It's sureal to see 63-horsepower keijidosha linking every corner sideways. [photo] [10:00] Our non-homologated 'Stangs wear incredibly conspicuous race car transport tags. They're quite possibly the only plates that have more street cred than Michigan Manufacturer plates. [photo] [11:00] Holy cow. Turns out Vaughn Gittin is the coolest, most laid back, most approachable racecar driver ever. He offered to let me ride with him to the gas station, and I took the opportunity to hit him with the hardest question in my arsenal. Click to hear his very frank answer. [11:15] Two of the three D1 cars on hand are based on vehicles that are out of production. Can you guess what this is? [photo] [11:30] You know, I wonder if this logo was ever reproduced in Gran Turismo... [photo] [12:45] The taping of a V-Option intro segment could have been mistaken for a diplomatic summit. Could drifting replace "ping-pong diplomacy"? [14:00] I was allowed to take a stock 2010 'Stang around Ebisu's beginner course. Drift courses are comprised of incredibly tight decreasing-radius turns, and are almost innavigable as road courses. The old Gran Turismo manual used to speak in deadpan about how the fastest way around some circuits could only be found using inertial drifts. “Ebisu's "school track" proves this point. Vaughn took me on an eight-tenths ride that was tough to capture on camera -- we're working on steadier in-car video. [20:00] Obliging a rural ryokan tradition, Vaughn signed autographs for our hotel to display in the lobby. While signing, he offered the hotel's owner a ride in the side seat tomorrow -- you'll want to see this!  Sunday, 8 March [13:00]  Ms. Suzuki, proprietor of the Azumakan "ryokan" hotel in Fukushima, has arrived at the track in traditional dress. [photo] [13:15] Ms. Suzuki helmets up as she prepares to be the first woman in a kimono to drift. [photo] [13:25] The Mustang looks great after five laps with Ms. Suzuki aboard. [photo] [15:00] This RB25-powered Nissan Laurel has been slinking around the paddock. Dirty. [photo] [15:15] Apparently, the previous owner of this Toyota Soarer was a huge Texas enthusiast. [photo] [16:00] As if the safari experience yesterday wasn't surreal enough, a man and his monkey have just hit the scene. For real. [photo] [17:00] I know "The Gittin Pose" can't be forced, but I had to ask for a lesson... I think my next attempt will be more accurate. [photo]

Mustang Red: running the backroads of Ohio in a search for the ponycar’s modern soul.

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Story by Jack Baruth, photographs by Dave Everest

Reader beware: there won't be a single reference to "burnouts" in this review. There won't be any photos of a grinning journalist smokin' the back tires or throwing up a set of "rock horns". We won't talk about 0-60 or quarter-mile times, Woodward Avenue, nineteen-sixty-four, or Steve McQueen. The words "Camaro" and "Challenger" will appear exactly once, and you just saw the one time they'll appear. Everybody knows what the Mustang can do; let's talk about what it traditionally can't do.

I'd had a plan, and the plan was good. We would take the 2010 Mustang to Virginia International Raceway and let it run free against the Porsches, Nissans, and Corvettes which litter VIR's paddock like a batch of giant Hot Wheels thrown to the ground by an angry god. We'd collect some data and place the 4.6-liter GT squarely where it belongs in the pantheon of mid-priced track rats. Good plan? Heck, it was a great plan, and it's straight out of the usual Speed:Sport:Life playbook. But you know what happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men. The East Coast fell beneath a sudden blizzard. VIR canceled our two days on-site and sent us back home empty-handed. We knew we'd only have one chance to test this car at speed before it arrived at your local dealership. Time for Plan B. Which is to say, time to make a Plan B.

Ohio's Hocking Hills area, dubbed the "Hockingheim" years ago by the once-brave souls at Car and Driver, happens to be right in my backyard. During the off-season weekdays, it's possible to spend hours on the twisty, treacherous hill roads without seeing another driver. I've run up the Route 374 hill to Cantwell Cliffs in my Porsche 911 dozens of times, the siren song of a nearly unmuffled flat-six at the top of fourth gear bouncing off the ice-lined rock faces and down the long, sheer dropoffs just inches from the road's gravel-strewn edge. It would be a great substitute test -- for something besides a 'Stang.

The Hockingheim ain't ponycar-friendly, you see. Up here, traction trumps torque, visibility is worth more than style, and persistent understeer will send you to an early grave. We brought a C****o here a few years back; it took its thoroughly surprised SCCA-regional-champ driver off the road at a ninety-degree angle. The Hills have little patience for big, flashy Americans of any kind. This is rally-rep territory, plain and simple. And with ambient temperatures hovering at eighteen degrees Fahrenheit, we could expect everything from glare ice around blind corners to two-inch-deep pools of rock salt in the braking zones. We knew our "chase car" -- a new-for-2010, all-wheel-drive Fusion Sport V6 -- would shine under these conditions, but the Mustang? It was a setup for failure.

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Our first run up the 374 hill confirmed my worst fears. Where there was shade, there was snow and ice; where there wasn't, there was salt so thick that we had to keep a two-hundred-foot distance between the cars lest we inadvertently pockmark their noses to the point of no respray. At the upper elevations, however, there was some clear, fast road to be had, which meant it was time to open the throttle and let the pony sing a bit.

Let's get this out of the way: the 24-valve, 4.6-liter V-8 that appeared with the "S197" 2005-model Mustang and continues here in mildly updated form simply doesn't cut the mustard on paper. 315 horsepower? That's Hyundai coupe territory now! Two decades ago, the man behind the wheel of a "five-point-oh" 1989 Mustang GT knew that virtually nothing short of a Ferrari Testarossa would run him close in a straight line; today's Mustang GT driver must either pick and choose his stoplight battles carefully or put in a deposit for a supercharged GT500. The power gap that used to separate the Blue Oval from the Japanese is long gone, yet the actual experience of driving this V-8 is still incomparably superior to something like an Infiniti G37.

The sound... the sound! From idle to redline, the 4.6 delivers a full-bore Daytona Prototype soundtrack that makes aftermarket mufflers irrelevant. It's not strong from idle and breathless up the tach in the style of a small-block Chevrolet or Ford's own iconic 302; instead, the pull starts off mild and opens up at 3500 rpm for a pure-adrenaline rush to redline. The restraining hand of the electronic limiter comes as a surprise. The original "mod-motor" 4.6 was simply worthless at high revs, but this 24-valver is splendid. In character and delivery it's far closer to Audi's direct-injection V-8 than to the domestic competition. The Blue Oval has taken a lot of stick over the past decade for using an overhead-cam V-8 in the Mustang, but for a generation which grew up on fast-spinning, peaky four-cylinders, it's just the ticket.

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Of course, with each indulgent spin of the tach, the next corner comes closer. It's never been easy to heel-and-toe the modern Mustang, and this car's no exception. The secret is to literally turn one's foot and do it Japanese-style. The brakes are easily up to fast-road running, but serious track rats should take a look at the GT500's Brembo arrangement or one of the many aftermarket options. We never recommend trail-braking for public roads, which means that the traditional front-heavy Mustang understeer is your immediate companion upon turn-in. Don't rush it. Get your speed correct and let the surprisingly communicative steering wheel tell you what's going on. Ford's squared away the damping on the 2010 model; there's no "dig-and-set" on corner entry. Instead, the steering loads predictably and tracks you straight to the clipping point, ready for the big V-8 to return to work.

This wouldn't be "automotive journalism" if we didn't take a minute to complain about the live axle. The only problem is that there isn't much to complain about. On wavy-pavement corner exits, it's necessary to pay close attention to throttle level, but that's more a function of the power on tap and the weight distribution than an indictment of the suspension layout. In the midcorner phase, the most it requires of the driver is a slight unwind of the wheel. Perhaps it's the years I've spent running these roads in rear-and-mid-engined Porsches, which are no broken-pavement superstars themselves, but I'm never particularly worried about what the big pony will do next, and I'm never surprised by what does happen.

By lunchtime, the snow is melting from all but the darkest corners up and down the big Route 374 hill, and a couple of driver changes have let us compare notes. The first impression: it's come a long way from the Fox-body 1979 car which set the template for modern Mustangs. The uprated interior, first-class NVH, letter-perfect fit and finish, and painstakingly matched control weights all combine to create the impression, not of a boulevard racer updated for the "change" era, but of a classic European Gran Turismo. More and more, it reminds me of my own Audi S5, with little dashes of plus-size Maserati or Aston thrown in. This is a big, bold, unashamed vehicle that sits conceptually halfway between a "Fox"Mustang and a Lincoln Mark VIII. In fact, it would probably be possible to build a hell of a Lincoln Mark using this platform. The rattle-free assembly and twist-free chassis are up to the standards of even the most ardent BMW fanatic.

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The downside of this Europhilic construction and execution is size. Switching back and forth between the Mustang and our accompanying Fusion drives home the point. It's a big car, with a long hood and limited field of vision. Around a stack of marked 15-mph hairpins, with a rock wall on one side and a long fall to the forest floor on the other, claustrophobia sets in early and has an almost unconscious relaxing effect on my throttle foot. We run the same set of hills again and again, but the salt is shifting with the wind and what seems like a tame corner entry in one run can become a full-opposite-lock panic buzzer the next time 'round. Some of our crew members are stating their outright preference for the Fusion! "It's easier to drive fast, easier to see out of, has more traction all the way through the corner, doesn't squirm under power." And so on. Kids.

The pro-Fusion murmurs continue long after the lunch break, and I start to think that, despite the big pony's charm, despite the character of the engine, despite the sheer magic of piloting something this thoroughly single-minded and well-executed... the Mustang is just out of place. The traditionalists and "buff books" are right. This is a straight-line car. Great on the boulevard, even great on a road course, but out of its depth in a slippery, off-camber, horribly narrow environment like the Hockingheim. There's only one way to really find out.

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"Last run. Give me the keys. Don't try to stay in visual contact." Turn the key, relax my hands, look all the way ahead, far up the hill. Rolling start and here we go. Full throttle. Through second gear, I hear a stereo screech as the rear wheels alternately spin on the salt. The Mustang's rear bumper wags but the nose is straight and true. There's enough grip. Up through third gear and here's the first major slow corner. Drop the nose, make the shift, turn my head first and let the steering wheel follow. There's that scratch of salt as the steering resistance drops to zero. The entry was too hot. Unwind the wheel, feed the throttle, and the inches to my side feel like miles. The input was hurried, but the response is honest as the 'Stang straightens out and rockets away.

Next turn to the left. Still in second. The entry is clear and the hood darts sharply. Early power, clip and clear. The sound of the V-8. Time for a shift up and a shift down. A crackle of SYNC-enabled phone commo: the road is clear ahead for miles. My rear view mirror is empty. Now this big pony and I can really talk, in the language known to American Iron and CMC racers everywhere. Respect the chassis, but don't be late with the power. Squeeze on the brakes, ease off. The outright grip is fantastic. A long, clean sweeper forces me to halt on our self-imposed maximum speed. The Mustang could do more, easily.

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At the top of the hill, empty blue sky as the suspension unloads on a series of sharp road peaks. The revs jump and fall with a "squeak" every time the rear end leaves the ground. Still straight and true. After each peak, a full compression at the bottom, but bump steer has been banished from the Mustang vocabulary. A sharp left-hander curves up and cambers in, inviting a full-monty throttle exercise and a sideways exit. We could have gone faster. There are no unpleasant surprises lurking at the bottom here. The old Fox would push, grind, bite and slide, but this car is one-finger adjustable even as the road is better viewed through the passenger window.

Now we descend a thousand feet in one long off-camber sweep. There's the glint of gravely salt in the midcorner ahead. Straighten the wheel. A firm press of the brakes lets the ABS communicate for a second before we're straight and through, picking up the steering load once more. Down again, steep enough that the trees seem to angle in parallel to the Mustang's A-pillar. Stone wall lining the curve at the bottom of the hill. So what. Brake. Turn. Accelerate. Stop sign. Turn right into Ash Cave's parking area. We're done.

There's time to get out of the car, shake the cramp out of my forearms and legs. The Ford ticks silently with the releasing heat. My hands are cold; I wave them a few feet from the front wheels and feel a wave of warmth. Oh, how I want to cage this car and race it. What a trustworthy, strong-hearted partner. The Fusion rolls up, heat rolling in visible waves from the brakes. It's a fast car in its own right, but freed of our preconceptions, our pony can run much faster. This experience is the opposite of antiseptic rally-rep competence. It's the thrill of driving a car that refuses to idiot-proof the situation but which works tirelessly with you to extract the maximum possible over-the-road performance. If you're ready to play, the Mustang is ready to ride.

We ride out of the hills in a silent, sobered convoy. An hour later, we're at home. Dave, the photographer and my passenger on that final ride, has his laptop out. He's a multiple-Subaru owner, a dirt-road fanatic, and a tireless proponent of the rally-rep layout. I sneak a peek at his screen. I recognize the site, because I was just there myself. It's the Ford website. He's building a Mustang GT. So was I.

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Mustang Madness Month continues with a full Texas road test and an exclusive series of dispatches from Japan later this week! Stay tuned!

March is MUSTANG MADNESS MONTH at Speed:Sport:Life!

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It would be an understatement to say that we're huge Mustang fans here at Speed:Sport:Life. Heck, we even ranked the outgoing GT500 ahead of a Ferrari and a Lotus in an on-track test! We've also raced Mustangs in the past. Bottom line: almost nobody's as enthusiastic about Ford's class-defining "pony car" as we are.

To help our fellow Mustang fans make it through the next few weeks before the 2010 'Stang arrives in dealerships, we've cooked up a variety of special content, including:

  • An outrageous, no-holds-barred backroads test of the 2010 Mustang GT that will take you flat-out and sideways over glare-ice-loaded roads and past hundred-foot cliffs. Does the revised pony have what it takes to play in an environment more suited to Subarus and Mitsubishi Evos?
  • Full reporting from more than a thousand miles of real-world driving behind the wheel of two different 2010 V-8 Mustangs. From the cupholders to the color-changing dash lights, we'll tell you how the new car's changes work out on the road.
  • Exclusive coverage of the 2010 Mustang GT in Japan. That's right, we said Japan. And yeah, there's going to be some drifting.
  • We'll be bringing you up close and personal with the new generation of ROUSH Mustangs on the day they're revealed to the public.
  • And finally, we'll head to one of America's most famous racetracks for a genuine at-the-limit session in the new 540-horsepower 2010 Shelby Mustang GT500.

It all starts tomorrow, Wednesday, March 4, so hold on to your, er, horses!