By: Alan Galbraith
The 6th Generation Ford Mustang has been on the market for three model years now, so why should you be interested in the 2018 GT model? How about, all new to the 2018 model, 40 more horsepower, magnetorheological suspension and adjustable performance exhaust? All of these additions turn an already very competent pony car into a very competent if somewhat brutal sports car.
The 2018 Mustang’s “5.0” V8 received a displacement bump from 4970cc to 5030cc. That’s 306 cu. inches for the metric challenged. The increased volume is now fed by both port and direct injectors. Larger valves feed the fuel/air mix to the cylinders where it is now squeezed even harder before it goes bang with a raided 12 to 1compression ratio. All of these tweaks take Ford’s Coyote V8 to 460 HP and 420 ft.-lbs. of torque right off the showroom floor. The result on the street is just this side of brutal. Full throttle in 1st gear brings around the need to shift to 2nd faster than you can do it even with the Mustang’s exceptional 6 speed manual gear box. The power comes on hard all the to the 7500 rpm redline. The traction control system can be challenged by aggressive 3rd to 4th gear shifts. Very large traffic tickets await any that routinely exercise the Mustang’s straight line acceleration capabilities on public roads. For those that do take their Mustang to the drag strip there is a Line Lock (allowing one to lock the front wheels to hold the car in the place while you happily turn the rear tires into smoke and noise) and a programmable launch control system. With all of this turned on the once tame pony car will reach 60mph in 3.9 seconds and burn down the quarter mile in 12 seconds flat. Fortunately, Ford realized that some owners might enjoy a more serpentine driving setting and have included an option for magnetically adjustable dampeners on the front and now, since 2015 model year, independent rear suspension. Putting the system in “Sport +” allows the Mustang to navigate even the most challenging twisty section of road with the composure once only attributed to the highest end exotic sports cars. A few laps around the famed Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca showed the Mustang’s handling capabilities to be the match for all but the most advanced track day drivers. But switch the settings to “Normal” and the ride wont beat you up on your daily commute.
Laguna Seca was built in a then remote area of Monterey county in 1957. Since then, large estates have been built around the track and populated by people that seemingly have no other hobby than to complain about the noise from the race track that was built decades before they moved in. The resulting near draconian noise regulations at the track prohibited us from trying out the adjustable performance exhaust until we got home. Fortunately, our neighbors are all gearheads and appreciate the different levels of noise the systems produces. The settings range from “Quiet” to “Normal” to “Sport” and finally to the loudest and ironically named noise regulation busting “Track”. In our, and our neighbors, opinion, there is no need to move it from the melodious although admittedly raucous “Track” setting. Should your neighbors not have similar tastes in automotive soundtrack, specifically in the early morning hours, Ford has included a “Quiet Start” feature that will automatically default the exhaust to the “Quiet” setting when starting the car before a preset hour of the day.
At the base price of $39,095 the base 2018 GT Coupe Premium is a competent pony car. Raising the sticker price to $49,275 by adding the newly available GT Performance Package, the Magne-Ride Suspension System and Active Valve Performance Exhaust transform the 2018 Mustang into an honest to goodness sports car that is worth considering even a couple of years into the life of the generation.