GT V8 (Autocar)
Size Matters
GT Conv' (SCI)
Cobra (Autocar)

Sports Car International (US)

Excerpt from "Character Study" - an article comparing the $25k Mustang GT with 3 price-rivals:  Subaru WRX, Mazdaspeed 1.8 Turbo, Acura (Honda) RSX.

"The '05 Mustang is the fresh face looking in on the established player in the budget-performance arena.  We would never have thought of putting the old Mustang up against a batch of sport compacts, but with an all-new chassis allowing for drastically improved handling and styling that manages to look both retro and modern the latest Mustang doesn;t seem nearly so out of place mingling with the other cars; it may just be the vehicle that bridges the gaps between the two camps."

"the Mustangs enjoys being the youngest design of the bunch,we expect the heritage-inspired styling cues to endure.  A couple of years down the road, we wouldn't be surprised if the Mustang still turned heads on the street.  The Mustang's visual impact continues into the cockpit, where deeply recessed gauges, a meaty steering wheel with split spokes and plenty of chrome instrument bezels greet the driver."

"The moment you step inside, you feel like you're getting a lot of car for the money.  The doors are heavy and the dashboard is imposing; the initial response is, "Whoa, this this is big," but more in terms of value than overall size."

"The Mustang, with it's high central tunnel, takes a bit more [driving position] adjustment time.  When you sit closer to the Ford's wheel, the Ford's stubby gear lever suddenly falls into place., and perceived control over clutch and brake pedals increase.   This close-up position, when combined with the high center console and imposing dash, give the Mustang a sense of intimacy not unlike the cozy surroundings of the much smaller Mazda."

"The practical concerns of driving a 5-speed, 300bhp  chunk of Dearborn muscle in a rainy LA traffic jam make themselves apparent, although the experience isn't nearly as bad as it sounds on paper.  In fact, the low and stiff Mazda is arguably a worse choice for the situation.

On the plus side, with the Mustang's headlights on and grille-mounted driving lights switched on, it's easily the most striking car in the rearview mirror. "It looks fantastic on the road," Mayne raves, "totally Bullitt."

The other factor that encouraged our Steve McQueen fantasies is the exhaust note.: Raucous and wonderfully American, the Mustang's rumble could cause even the fastest and most furious import enthusiast to stand up and pay attention. Sadly, well over half of '05 Mustang customers are expected to opt for the [4.0] v6 version - while the six is a perfectly adequate choice, the GT's 4.6-litre SOHC 24-valve V8 truly transforms the nature of the car. While the overhead-cam small blocks found in recent Mustangs were high-revving - almost peaky - to the point that enthusiasts longed for the old pushrod 302, the latest V8 had power up and down the tachometer. 'I recently had a V6 auto as a rental car,' Palevsky recalls. 'The V8 not only feels faster and more exciting, but it also seems a lot more substantial and sophisticated.' Enough said. Of course, interstate prowess is one of the few unsurprising aspects of the Mustang GT's repertoire. With plenty of wet, twisting Malibu Canyon roads in front of us, we make sure to enjoy the Mustang fun while it lasts.

The fact that the Mustang includes the driver as a major variable in the equation of driving quickly is possibly its' greatest attribute. The previous-generation pony had enough faults to be categorized as crude. Most of these faults have been addressed by the latest version, yet it retains just the right amount of old-world charm.

While the Mustang's tyling will capture most of the magazine headlines - 'It looks better than anything Ford has introduced since the Mustang looked like this the last time around' quips Palevsky - the tighter structure, more flexible engine and capable if imperfect suspension is really the best news for Blue Oval fans. With the Mustang's big power and much-improved finesse, the stalwart trio of spotr compacts suddenly become the under-dogs of our test. But even in the light of the newcomer's strong performance, the "old" guard of Asian iron makes an excellent showing. Ultimately, logic would suggest that the car that was easiest to drive fast and the most aggreeable companion for the daily grind would get the nod - in this case, the WRX. But the Mustang GT's alluring personality begs the question of whether the most capable machine is automatically the best choice. Either way, the Mustang's bags of character, reasonable daily manners and easily accessible potency will cetrainly lead plenty of buyers to ignore even the most level-headed logic."

ter than the car it replaces and a throwback to the muscle car's glory days.