Ford's Mustang GT Coupe, like its V6, Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 kin, is a serious pony car that finally comes to bat with a complete, competitive package, on or off the track.
The Ford Mustang GT (and other Mustang variants) has undergone several face-lifts in recent years, with the latest generation being the most significant cosmetic change since the new body was introduced back in 2010. Now, the Mustang GT features a revised exterior that is both sleeker and meaner, largely borrowing its styling cues from the last generation, range-topping Shelby GT500.
The look mimics the 1969-70 Mustang, with more muscular haunches, a narrower front face and a cleaner tail that features tail lamps inspired by the high-performance Shelby Mustangs of the marque's first heyday. Beyond simply adding new front and rear fascias as is common with mid-cycle refreshes, the new Mustang GT received a bit more thorough reworking that includes a more prominent grille and splitter, standard high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, signature lighting, painted body-side rockers, more dramatic LED taillamps, side mirrors with pony projection light and a new wheels.
Unlike the Mustang V6 which saw no powertrain changes, the GT's 5.0-liter V8 saw a power boost from 412 to 420 horsepower by borrowing some technology from the Mustang Boss 302. The uprated 5.0 DOHC V8 boasts twin independent variable cam timing and all aluminum construction to make the most of its horsepower and 390 lb-ft. of torque.
Ford's Mustang GT coupe returns a best-in-class (for V8 engines) 26 mpg highway fuel economy with its standard six-speed manual transmission, and 15 city mpg. Opt for the six-speed automatic and fuel economy climbs to 18 in the city, but dips slightly to 25 mpg on the freeway.
Other upgrades for the latest GT include the addition of SelectShift to automatic transmission-equipped models, a new GT Track Package, Hill Start Assist on manual-equipped cars, optional leather-trimmed or cloth Recaro seats (from the Shelby GT500) and functional hood heat extractors.
The latest GT also gains a 4.2-inch LCD screen which features Track Apps. Track Apps enables the driver to monitor performance measures such as g-forces, shows acceleration times in quarter-mile and zero-to-60 increments, and displays braking times, complete with automatic and countdown starts.
Ford also upgraded both levels of the premium shaker audio systems, with the base system now offering eight speakers while the Shaker Pro offers nine speakers.
Though Mustang retains its solid rear axle -- which Ford says is to enhance straight-line performance -- the suspension has been revised to deliver a smoother, better controlled ride, flatter handling and improved steering feel.
Standard equipment now includes 18-inch alloy wheels, with size-up wheels optional. Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability control is standard, and it joins traction control, front and seat-mounted side airbags and anti-lock brakes on the Mustang's roster of passive and active safety features.
Premium models add leather seat and steering wheel trim, Sync, Sirius satellite radio and a Shaker 500 audio system, among other cosmetic upgrades.
The Mustang offers a few all-new options for Premium models, including a navigation system and a rearview camera built into the rear spoiler.
The Mustang GT's most obvious competitors include the Chevrolet Camaro SS and Dodge Challenger R/T, while the Nissan 370Z is also a worthy rival. Some publications have gone so far to compare the pony car to the BMW M3, which boasts a more prestigious pedigree but puts up similar performance numbers.