2013 Ford Mustang GT Premium First Test
Last of the Breed
If there's one thing you should know about the 2013 Ford Mustang GT Premium we just had in for testing, it's this: It does great burnouts. Fantastic, pillowy, awesome burnouts. And it will do them over and over until the rear tires are scorched and the pavement permanently marred. But when the shenanigans stop and the smoke clears, it turns out there's more to the updated GT than just burning rubber.
This GT represents the last update the current generation Mustangs will get until the highly anticipated all-new model drops in 2015, but that doesn't mean that the 2013 is out of date. It gets numerous updates, including HID headlights, a new front fascia and hood with functional heat extractors, scalloped taillights, Track Apps, and a minor bump in power for its 5.0-liter V-8.
Our six-speed-manual-equipped GT Premium tester felt properly quick. Unlike American V-8s of yesteryear, this GT's 5-0 loves swinging the needle north to its 6800 rpm redline, and though probably unnecessary, the extra eight horses (now at 420 hp) are certainly welcome. Nail the throttle in third while merging onto the freeway, upshift quickly to fourth, and before you know it, you're at triple-digit speeds. The six-speed manual is geared short and can be had with a 3.73 rear end. The shifter itself offers crisp, quick throws, begging you to wring out every ounce of power before shifting.
Our tester needed just 4.3 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph -- a tick faster than the last 2011 Mustang GT we tested. Moreover, the 2013 GT's 0-60 time puts it firmly in the middle of the Mustang stable. While the monster 2013 Shelby GT500 predictably beats it by 0.8 second, the Boss 302 is just 0.3 second quicker. Conversely, that time tops the Mustang V-6 Performance Pack by a full second. As for the quarter mile, the 2013 Mustang GT needs a mere 12.7 seconds to do the deed at 111.1 mph. When it came time to scrub the speed off, the Mustang did so consistently with no brake fade and zero drama, thanks in large part to the optional front Brembo brakes ($1695), which helped haul it down from 60 mph in an impressive 107 feet.
So while the 2013 Mustang GT is fast in a straight line, it can also handle a corner or two. Most of the numbness we found in the Mustang V-6 Performance Pack was dialed out of the big boy GT. Steering was linear and direct, and its quicker steering rack made it easy to place the car in fast, tight turns. Most maneuvers in the tight and twisting canyon roads surrounding L.A. required no more than 180 degrees of twist at the helm, giving the car a surprisingly fast reaction time.
After performing our figure-eight test, testing director Kim Reynolds noted that the Mustang is "the kind of car you need to grab by the scruff of the neck and hurl around," and that doing so is quite fun. The Mustang made it around the figure eight in 25.6 seconds at an average of 0.68 g and pulled a best average of 0.94 g on the skidpad. Though it was one of the best-performing Mustangs to date (and a solid performer, period), we did notice a bit of the old pitch and roll during testing. Our Mustang GT tester's optional Recaro buckets are among the most comfortable racing seats fitted to a car from the factory. Even after spending five-plus hours in traffic on one unfortunate evening, the Recaros never left me with a sore backside. At $1595, they're a pricey addition, but one that fits well with the upscale (for a Mustang) interior. Most materials in the cabin are soft touch, like the dashboard and stitched leather door panels, and everything that needs to feel high-quality does.
In addition to the aforementioned Brembos and Recaros, our Mustang GT Premium tester started at $35,095 and came with the 3.73 ratio rear-axle ($395), Red Candy Metallic clearcoat paint ($395), Reverse Sensing System and Security Package ($695), and rear video camera ($385). Though we could live without the reverse sensors and security gear, we'd without a doubt opt for the Recaros. Add it all up and the car rang the register at a relatively spendy $40,255.
Although our car didn't come with it, you can of course get your Mustang GT with the $2495 GT Track Package, which includes the Brembos and 3.73 axle, plus upgraded cooling hardware and the Torsen limited-slip differential from the Boss 302. Those interested in a performance-oriented no-frills GT would probably be better served by saving about $5000 and getting a base GT fitted with just the GT Track Pack and Recaros.
Other than the test car's high-ish price, our only other niggle centered on the Mustang GT's exhaust note, or lack thereof. Sure, it sounded like an American V-8 should when you really got on it, but otherwise, it was simply too quiet. At full throttle, engine noise is piped into the cabin via the "sound induction tube," but it seemed manufactured. Suspicions of the bad-boy Mustang GT being too tame sonically were confirmed during the photo shoot when our photographer mentioned it sounded quiet right after it drove by near redline in third gear. The Boss 302 and Shelby GT500 sound epic -- it's disappointing that the mainstream GT isn't a bit more like its big brothers in that department.
When the next Mustang arrives, it will likely look distinctly modern and is expected to feature high-tech direct injection along with a whiz-bang independent rear suspension. In the meantime, this GT is unquestionably the best model to date, and as the last of its breed, it's become a special pony.
|2013 Ford Mustang GT|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$40,255|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||5.0L/420-hp/390 lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3622 lb (55/45%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||188.5 x 73.9 x 55.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.7 sec @ 111.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||107 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.94 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.6 sec @ 0.68 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||15/26 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||225/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.05 lb/mile|