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Seven reasons the Mustang is a performance masterpiece

The original ’64 Ford Mustang [1] was called a “secretary’s car.” Then it was a muscle car, then an economical cruiser, and then a GT car by the ’90s. Throughout its life, this thoroughbred pony has adapted to the times. Today is no different, with a modern Mustang for modern drivers. Here are seven reasons you want one.

EcoBoost

Want a fun car, but also need to get over 30 MPG? A four-cylinder Mustang is your car. The EcoBoost 2.3-liter makes an impressive 310 horsepower, which is how much the V8 was making 10 years ago. Zero to 60 makes you question if there isn’t a V8 under the hood, at just 5.3 seconds. Keep off the accelerator and you can hit 32 mpg highway, which was economy car territory just a few years ago. You really can have sport and economy with the base Mustang.

V8 Power

A traditional “pony car” has V8 power, and the modern Mustang brings a lot of horses. The 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8 makes 460 horsepower, a number equal to the base Corvette. Plus, there’s that world-renowned V8 sound. When matched to the excellent 10-speed automatic and some optional performance upgrades, the GT can run 0 to 60 just under 4 seconds [2]. That’s faster than a Porsche Carrera or a BMW M4 [3], for about half the price. Plus, it does all this on cheap 87 octane gas. Flat-out performance is the reason the Mustang GT is on Car and Driver‘s 10 Best list.

Performance Packages

Optional performance packages can add real handling fun. PP1 is Performance Package Level 1 that includes wider 19-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires. These wheels cover Brembo 6-piston calipers over massive 15-inch brake rotors (those are the size of the wheels on a Honda Fit [4]). There’s other details like an upgraded radiator and larger sway bars, too. Performance Package Level 2 adds even wider wheels, wearing super grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, track suspension tuning, and a revised front and rear splitter for better aerodynamics. It’s great competition for the Camaro SS [5] 1LE package.

IRS

No, not the tax guys, but independent rear suspension for daily driver comfort and sports car handling. Prior to 2015, the base and GT models had a solid rear axle tube connecting the left and right wheels, similar to what’s found on your local garbage truck. It was strong, but that’s all the praise it earned, proving bumpy over rough pavement. IRS was swapped in for all 2015+ Mustangs, which allows the wheels to move independently of each other. This provides two main benefits: IRS allows a comfier ride as potholes disturb only one wheel instead of both, and each tire can adjust to the road surface, offering improved cornering ability.

Endless options

You can option the Mustang exactly how you want it. If you enjoy weekends at the drag strip or autocross meet, get the Recaro seats and customizable gauge cluster. Road trips more your thing? Get the voice activated nav, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Letting your family drive it? There’s optional active safety features like lane-keep assistance and pedestrian detection. Even the body style offers a hardtop coupe or summer cruising convertible.

Value

The Mustang offers a lot of value in several areas. There’s ridiculous power for reasonable money. The outside offers great mid-century modern looks, but the inside is classy and contemporary for a daily drivable interior. Optional upgrades make big improvements for little cash. There are even parts companies dedicated to helping you take your Mustang further. From wheels and wings, to stripes and superchargers, the Mustang has endless options for creatively customizing your ride.

History

Carol Shelby and his race winning GT500s. Epic cool guy Steve McQueen in “Bullitt.” Nicolas Cage losing his mind over “Eleanor” in “Gone in 60 Seconds.” And of course, Vanilla Ice’s “five-oh” drop-top. From classic tunes and rap videos, to starring roles in blockbuster movies, the Mustang is as much a part of the American automotive landscape as Route 66, drive-ins, and world famous burger joints. You can join a legacy of 50+ years of Mustang icons, or ignore it all and just enjoy this great modern sports car.

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