Kids are the best critics. If the brand new sports car you just purchased, doesn’t get them excited, you’ve probably bought the wrong one.
The Race Red 2020 Mustang GT with matching red interior that I picked up a few weeks ago did not have that problem. Fittingly its biggest fan was my three-year-old son who referred to it as the “horsey car”. He might have been more disappointed to see it go than I was.
The Mustang is the world’s best-selling sports car and has nailed the intangibles of desirability that so many automakers get wrong. With a new one due in a couple years time it shows no signs of relinquishing that position.
A choice of either fastback or convertible and multiple ways to level up from the 310 horsepower EcoBoost model all the way to the maniacal 760 hp GT500 keep it accessible but also aspirational.
Its 55-year heritage permeates through its classic pony car proportions. The long hood, low roofline and truncated rear end with its signature tri-bar tail lamps are classic Mustang. You’re not going to mistake this for anything else even with the absence of Ford badges.
For 2020, the FordPass Connect app is standard and will allow owners to remotely interact with their car. There are also some flashy new colours like Twisted Orange and Grabber Lime.
I’ve had the opportunity to drive every Mustang you can get today, and while they’re all very good, the middle of the road GT is the sweet spot.
The 2.3-litre turbo four in the base model is plenty powerful and efficient. Derived from the Focus RS hot hatch it makes more power and torque than V8 ‘Stangs from just ten years ago, but there’s no character here. Compared to magic of the Coyote, the EcoBoost is gruff and soulless.
The 5.0-litre “Coyote” V8 in the Mustang GT produces 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It provides fantastic power delivery, a wonderfully throaty intake snarl and a ferocious exhaust note that gets better and louder as you approach its 7,500-r.p.m. rev limit. You’ll even get under 10 L per 100 km on the highway if you keep your speed in check.
Provided you opt to keep the manual transmission, which you absolutely should, you’ll be blessed with one of the best drivetrain combos anywhere. The clutch is light and very forgiving, and auto rev-matching comes standard. It will make you look like a great driver in front of your friends but it can be switched off for those that would rather heel and toe themselves.
The Mustang GT makes power everywhere in the rev range, but to really get the most out of it you’ll need to spin it up to redline. Most passing manoeuvres can be accomplished without a downshift, but then you’d miss out on the pleasure of rowing the excellent 6-speed linkage through its well-oiled gates.
Ride quality is generally good and the Magneride suspension equipped on this car helps take the edge of some of the harsher bumps while instantly stiffening up under spirited cornering. The Mustang is a big and heavy car and can feel unwieldy at lower speeds or on very narrow streets, but get it up to speed and you can easily carry momentum through the bends like it’s a big Miata. There’s very little body roll and good feel through the electrically assisted steering rack.
A low entry price for the GT means you can get what you really want — the V8 —without having to load up on a bunch of options you might not really need. Mustangs are fairly well equipped out of the box and for this type of pleasure craft, large brakes, a limited-slip diff, engine oil cooler, 18-inch wheels, and LED lighting, are all you really need.
Stepping up to a GT Premium will get you heated and cooled leather seats, selectable drive modes, a 9-speaker stereo, and some nicer feeling trim. The Recaro sport seats are an excellent option and are both comfortable and supportive but come at the cost of heating and cooling.
The cabin isn’t going to win any quality awards but everything is functional if a bit chintzy to the touch. Acres of hard plastic and vinyl-like surfaces contribute to an interior that feels lackluster compared to the marvelous drivetrain.
You can go crazy ticking off options to your heart’s content, but you’ll end up with a car nearing $70K like my tester, completely killing the Mustang’s value play.
Must-haves are the GT performance package ($4,200), the performance exhaust ($1,000) and the Recaro seats ($1,800). Opting for the performance pack gets you wider 19-inch wheels, ditches the lame all-seasons for real summer rubber, adds big Brembo brakes, a larger radiator, a strut tower brace, GT specific chassis tuning, and more.
If you’re looking for a fun sports car without having to take out a second mortgage a Mustang is one of the easiest cars to recommend. It tends to get under your skin and stay there, like all the best cars. The “horsey car” also made my son’s day every time he rode in it, and seeing that toothy smile beaming in the rear view mirror was the absolute best review this car could get.
All photos by Kunal D’souza.