At some point in the near future we, as an industry, are going to have to stop referring to the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and (perhaps) Dodge Challenger as “muscle cars.” It’s great for marketing, but they no longer fit the definition. Muscle cars should be full-size sedans with no options, four gears coming out of the floorboard, and truck engines fitted with speed parts. As the old slogan goes, “It doesn’t turn and it doesn’t stop, but it sure as hell goes!” Times have changed and so should the slogan.
What these cars have become are GT coupes for the working class. Two-door sports cars that can go fast, handle a corner and look great in a wide array of colors for (well) under six-figure price tags.
Of all the vehicles I hooned around the track at this year’s Texas Auto Roundup, the 2018 Ford Mustang GT was the one I drove the most. Why? Because it was a fantastic car to drive, especially in that kind of environment. Here’s what new for 2018 in Ford’s pony car:
The model provided for us had the optional 12-inch LCD digital instrument cluster. The dashboard is inspired by the crown prince of Ford Motor Company, the GT. The LCD dash is customizable, allowing the driver to pick and choose which gauges they want displayed.
The Pony button on the steering wheel takes you to the option to edit the dash. You can choose between one of three virtual gauges, three types of configurable RPM’s, launch control and more. You can even choose the color from 30 different options.
Exhaust mode is another feature available through the Pony button. In this menu screen the driver can choose from four different modes: Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Track. As you would expect, the higher the setting the louder the 5.0 liter V8 sings, from a whisper in the wind to a classically trained baritone. I always made sure exhaust mode was set to the track setting. The 2018 Ford Mustang GT makes all the right noises you want in an American V8 coupe…from an idle that intimidates and a high RPM roar that’ll put bumps on a goose.
Track apps include Line Lock, a standard feature on all Mustangs that allows the driver to heat-up the rear tires. On the dash you get a graphic of a tire spinning and create smoke in relation to what’s going on outside behind you. Lap Timer allows you to record your lap times on three separate tracks. It has enough memory to record 100 sessions and each session is 25 laps, more than enough for several years of track day weekends.
Finally, the Acceleration Timer is for the driver who enjoys adrenaline shots a quarter mile at a time. It records your times when you take the Mustang down the line at the local drag strip. The dash displays a Christmas tree drag lights that countdown to green and even records G-force you pull during each pass. (In short, it will do everything but call your service writer when you blow everything up – ed.)
The 2018 Mustang comes with two engine options and transmissions. The Coyote 5.0 V8 with 460 horsepower that can gallop from 0-60 in under 4 seconds. You can have the V8 with either a 10-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. The model we drove on the track had the manual, and it was an absolute blast to row through the gears while aiming for the apex. It’s a very nice bend of modern technology and old-school muscle.
The second engine is the 2.3 Ecoboost four-cylinder turbo that produces a very respectable 310 horsepower. More than enough to get up and gallop into the sunset. Especially if you opt for the available convertible Mustang.
As noted, the 2018 Mustang GT is a blast to drive. Out on the track I was able to really push it through the corners with complete faith that I wasn’t going to exit facing backwards. The independent rear suspension gave me control and allowed me to travel faster than I expected. The exhaust note kept spurring me on to push more until I started to find the limit of grip in the tires. My only regret was that I wasn’t allowed to do hot laps in the GT. And I can’t wait to see how it handles on the street.