Tag - 2010 Mustang GT

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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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!