I drove the 2018 Ford Mustang GT to see if it's still a muscle car that's a blast to drive

Matthew DeBord/BIAmerican muscle!
  • The 2018 Ford Mustang has been updated.
  • Our test car was the Mustang GT, whose 5.0-litre engine is now more powerful.
  • But the new ‘Stang is about more than a sub-four-second 0-60 mph time.

After redesigning the iconic FordMustang for its 50th birthday in 2015, Ford has refreshed the car for the 2018 model year.

Not much has changed, but what has changed is all for the better.

The Mustang has arguably never been more important in Ford’s lineup. The automaker will be phasing out passenger cars, for the most part, in favour of crossover and SUVs. But the Mustang, a proper sports car with two doors, will remain. In fact, the ‘Stang will be getting a hybrid version in coming years.

Some people can’t live a full life without a Mustang, and Ford has no plans to let them down.

We recently got some seat time in an all-new 2018 Mustang GT, out in California. The conditions were ideal for muscle-car testing. Here’s what we thought.

The first stop for me and my Triple Yellow Mustang GT coupe was my favourite taco truck in LA.

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Read all about the best dang tacos in LA.

I used to live in LA and tested plenty of cars there. Here’s my typical route. With the Stang, I reversed the sequence.

Google Maps/Skitch

The Mustang looks good in sun. Updates are radical: the front and back end have been made more sleek.

Matthew DeBord/BI

I think the overall effect is to continue presenting the Stang, after over five decades, as a sports car with global appeal, versus a stonking old American muscle car.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The front is less snouty that the outgoing design.

Matthew DeBord/BI

I’m lookin’ at you.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The rear has also been slimmed down a tad. The spoiler is an option.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The action is still all-Mustang under the hood. My GT had a 5.0-litre V8, making 460 horsepower, a bump on the 2017 car thanks to re-engineered fuel-injection technology. With a delicious six-speed manual transmission, the price would have been about $US45,000 (my tester wasn’t officially stickered).

Matthew DeBord/BI

A 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor is also available, making about 100 fewer horses.

A 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor is also available, making about 100 fewer horses. Sadly, there’s no V6.

Matthew DeBord/BI

This Ford stickshift is exceptional. I enjoyed it in a convertible 2017 GT back in New Jersey over the summer and was sold. The clutch is also wonderful, not too demanding, but not smushy, either.

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A 10-speed automatic is available.

The V8 is slightly higher in displacement over the 2017 car: you round down to 5.0 litres, not up. Put the hammer down (in the automatic) and the 0-60 mph dash passes in under 4 seconds, with the sweet sounds of combustion echoing in your ears.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The manual will still get you to 60mph in less than 4.5 seconds.

With a small gas tank and only 200 miles of range, such performance comes at a price. Fuel economy is not good. You should be able to get about 20 mpg on the highway, but if you have any fun, you’re looking at 15 and frequent fill-ups. Such is the price of pleasure.

Matthew DeBord/BI

My Stang was equipped with SYNC 3, Ford’s quite capable infotainment system.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The touchscreen is responsive and not at all laggy, if modestly scaled in this car. There’s all the usual stuff: navigation, a dandy audio system with SiriusXM, USB/AUX ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The truck is very roomy, and while the back seats aren’t, they large enough to accommodate smaller folks and kids and, you know, a jacket and cap.

Matthew DeBord/BI

The font seats, by the way, are comfy for freeway hauls, yet bolstered enough to hold you snug when canyon-carving.

The new digital instrument cluster can be customised and presents different configurations depending on driving mode. Track, for example, strips everything down to a racing-car style tachometer.

Matthew DeBord/BI

My Stang and I saw some interesting stuff while tooling around the City of Angels.

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Including a relative …

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… Or two.

Matthew DeBord/BI


Matthew DeBord/BI

When I last sampled a GT, my thoughts were: “Brothers and sisters, if you think a sports car might be for you, just get one of these.”

The song remains the same, even though I’ve also driven the GT’s big brother, the GT350, which is a lot of car.

The regular 5.0 GT is plenty, however. I used it as a passable imitation of the daily driver in LA, and though the six-speed was no party, it was fine. Once I got to cut loose in the canyons, you couldn’t have given me an automatic.

That said, because the redline is now 7,500 rpm (up 500 from the previous model), it’s possible to park the GT in third gear, or even second, and just rip around and relish the sharp steering and marvellous brakes: point and shoot driving, with the V8 making its music in the background.

Obviously, this is a Mustang, so it can haul in a straight line. Onramp runs and passing on the freeway are tons of fun. When the back end hunkers down and the tires grab, the joy is palpable (the GT is outfitted with a Drag Strip mode, by the way, and joined with the automatic option, that gets you a sub-four-second 0-60 mph time).

The real trick with the V8-motored Stangs these days is to deliver German-sports-car-level performance without grinding the backwoods American edge off. This is harder than it sounds. But Ford has done it, and even sneakily altered the Stang’s looks by streamlining the exterior. But that engine continues to rock ‘n’ roll.

Yeah, let’s face it, I loved the car. The gas bill might take some getting used to, but the 2018 Mustang GT is an excellent plaything. You’d want to drive it every single weekend. And then you might even want to spend the money and drive it every day.

Don’t forget, even if you max out the options and get up to $US55,000 or so, you’re still miles below the cost of comparable Porsche 911 (a Carrera GTS, for example). You can afford the fill-ups.

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