2013 Ford Mustang V6 - A Wild Horse They Tamed

Our last "Drive...He Said" outing with that wild horse, the Ford Mustang GT, was spent kicking road salt all over the street on some snowy days. We considered erecting a monument to the tank tread traction provided by some pricey Pirelli Sottozero winter tires. Fun as the Mustang GT is with 415 full-size ponies bursting forth from 5.0 of DOHC V8 funneled through a 6-speed close ratio manual transmission and 3.5:1 final drive on a solid axle, with some huge Brembo clamped rotors there to safeguard more pedestrian traffic, we were left asking for "more", and at times, "less."

"More" as in civility and "less" as in brashness:

Much of the greater liveability of the 2013 Ford Mustang V6, we recently tested, has to do with the loss of two cylinders at the front of the car. Verified 0-60 launches requiring 6.4 seconds, without any form of launch control, doesn't make this pony-car a slouch. In highway passing flick the shift knob mounted toggle switch for the six-speed automatic slushbox, with the $1995 Performance Pack's 3.31:1 gearing. This keeps the engine in its sweet spot between 5000 and and eye-popping 7000 rpm. Just for perspective this 3.7-Liter mill's 305 ponies are 35% more than those available in the venerable pushrod "Five Point Oh" V8 of the late 1980s. Despite several all-out runs, 19 miles-per-gallon of fuel economy improves on the big-gunned Mustang GT by some 25%. There is little reason to doubt Fords claim of 23 mpg in combined driving. Whether inside the cabin or standing outside near the tailpipes of the Mustang V6, you immediately notice the utter lack of idle exhaust rumble so pervasive in the GT. It makes the Mustang V6 a more placid interstate cruiser.

"Less amounts to more" in the 2013 Mustang V6 in the case of a 150-pounds weight loss on account of the smaller engine. The view out the windshield remains that of a Navy pilot looking down the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Good thing that its made of aluminum because the only hydraulic pistons are your arms. Lower weight over the steered wheels translates into lower steering effort requirements. Engage the "Track Apps" menu on the driver's instrument cluster display and select Sport electric-assisted steering.  Steering feel, which has every bit the firmness of Jello in Comfort mode, escalates in quickness. The 255/40 Goodyear Supercar tires are lifted from the Mustang GT manual with Brembo Pack and fitted  onto distinct painted 19" aluminum wheels. These puppies dig in to develop 0.93 Gs  of lateral acceleration, besting the BMW E90 M3. Greater ride compliance eliminates the "pogo effect" if the Mustang GT's Track Pack. However, the handicap of a solid rear axle is responsible for vestiges of body roll and axle hop in fast transitions. Spoiled for the GT's front Brembo four-piston fixed calipers, there is less immediacy of braking relative to pedal pressure.

Ford has tried best as it can to marry retro touches with modern effects without and within the 2013 Mustang.  The bold front fascia and the rear quarter with C-pillar have matured nicely. While the tinted LED tail lamp covers are successfully dressy, the white LEDs flanking the headlamps are less so.  Find us a driving enthusiast whose expression isn't that of a wide grin upon grabbing that large steering wheel, embossed with that traditional prancing pony, and facing stretched numeral contained in the twin podded analog speedometer and tachometer.   The Track Apps display, flanked by the gauges, does offer the cool "Christmas Tree" countdown to launch the Mustang and measure acceleration runs. Switch screens to measure braking times and cornering forces. Delve deeper to locate engine exhaust manifold temperatures and oil pressure, in your choice of analog or digital.

M.I.A. in our tester were the optional Recaro bucket seats which have trickled down from the Boss 302. Instead our butts nestled into  rippled cushions and seat backs which would have been right at home in a 64' 'Stang. Not even the Ferragamo-worthy tan hides could give these buckets any notable lateral support. Hard as the premium trim aluminum dash inlays try, they can't quite conceal cabin layout, trim and switchgear that was penned a decade ago. Notably, the Ford Sync voice activated  infotainment system  did a better job picking out media-stored songs by voice commands than any fancy-pants MyTouch system ever has. What would a shrink say about our choice of  purple from the diverse My Color mood-lighting palette? A narrow aperture trunk is adequate only because the rear seat-back splits to fold. Adults willing and able to wriggle into the Mustang's back seat ought prepare for knee to elbow bonding.

The comparably priced Hyundai Genesis V6 Coupe will zip through your average canyon with as much zeal as our as-tested $33,000 2013 Mustang V6 Premium with Performance Package. The Scion FR-S / Subaru BR-Z brothers wouldn't be far behind, though not many "behinds" could fit into their back seats. Among American ponies, the Chevrolet Camaro RS offers a superior ride / handling compromise as a result of its independent rear suspension. Also endowed with an I.R.S. is the Dodge Challenger, whose interior is roomier.  Neither can match the Mustang's more visceral communication on power slides. Please make our wild horse the slightly tamer in price [by $5-grand ] six-speed manual version with the Performance Pack and Recaro seats.

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