Some performance cars develop horsepower through single and twin turbocharging arrangements, supercharging and numerous other means of fortifying the output of an engine without gaining displacement or cylinders.
The 2013 Mustang GT develops its hostility the old fashioned way with eight naturally aspirated cylinders expelling their hot gasses into a free-flowing dual exhaust system; the auditory product of which can’t be equalled for its muscle-car authenticity and visceral reverence. All of which simply gets better for 2013.
More visual aggression
The 2013 Mustang is easily recognized by its new front grille and bumper architecture, which now resembles that of the Shelby GT500. The new look is meaner, adding more prominence to the face of the Mustang without sacrificing the vehicle’s classic Mustang theme.
High-Intensity Discharge Headlights (HID) are now standard Mustang fare along with horizontal LED daytime running lights and LED taillights in the traditional Mustang three-bar design. These functional design elements add a hi-tech appearance to Ford’s iconic pony car.
My GT tester stood out among the crowd thanks to its brilliant Race Red paint, which accentuated every curve, angle and crease in the car’s sheet metal, including the pair of functioning heat extractors strategically positioned in the Mustang’s domed hood.
Overall, the latest version of the Mustang GT is perhaps the most daring and exciting execution of the retro design to date. But street cred requires more than a powerful stance and bright paint. It demands performance.
More ponies galloping
The 2013 Mustang GT’s corral seems to grow year after year, and 2013 is no exception. Its 5.0L V8, featuring Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT), now puts the hooves of 420 horses @ 6,500 rpm to the pavement along with 390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm.
In the case of my tester, a 6-speed manual stick harnesses horsepower en route to the rear wheels where a Torsen limited-slip differential feeds an axle ratio of 3.73. The GT’s stick is a short-throw arrangement that urges a little more intent and exertion to command than some lighter affairs, but don’t take this as a negative.
Shifters -- such as the GT’s stubby stick -- which require a little effort to row can be far more engaging than the two-finger type that all but fall from gear to gear. And this applies to the clutch as well. It’s not the lightest or easiest to operate with deft precision, yet it rewards with the sense of strength and substance needed to tame the beast under hood.
More ponies countered with more braking
My tester was equipped with a -- new for the GT -- Brembo Brake Racing Package. The package adds an engine cooler, upgraded radiator, and upgraded performance brakes with 14” vented front rotors.
While I didn’t track test this vehicle, I was certainly impressed with the strength of the GT’s brakes and their resilience when applied repeatedly. Despite my adherence to rules of the road, I managed to take advantage of the GT’s 420 horsepower in appropriate circumstances.
I love every nuance and pulse-quickening sensation experienced climbing into the 2013 Mustang GT and preparing it for a tour of duty. My tester was equipped the optional leather-trimmed Recaro racing seats found in the Shelby GT500 and Boss 302 Mustangs.
The Recaros bear-hug the body, holding the driver exceptionally stable while imparting a sense that something enormously exhilarating is about to come, and it does with a twist of the key. The V8 growls to life like a junkyard dog baring its fangs and delivering a guttural warning.
A firm push of the clutch allows the slightly resistive stick to slot first gear. From that point forward, the GT delivers rewards exclusive to powerful V8s of the domestic ilk. Deep exhaust rumble and snarl define every run through the gears accompanied by abundant, overly ambitious torque.
And when the stallions are set free, the thunderous bellow and gravity defying pull is the stuff of ageing dreamers who yearn for the performance of long-past American muscle. This is the authenticity I speak of. The 2013 Mustang GT is a revelation of the muscle-car era cloaked in modernity, and frankly it has a profound effect on those who connect with it.
Yet there’s no needv to relive the '60s and '70s to appreciate everything that’s exciting about the latest Mustang GT. The icon has become ageless, as evidenced by my teenage son and his friends fawning over the car like it was a discovery exclusive to their inordinately entitled generation.
Built in Flat Rock, Michigan, the 2013 Mustang GT is a fine example of Americana nostalgia and domestic V8 muscle. While it provides enormous performance for the buck, it’s beginning to creep up the financial ladder.
My fully loaded tester was stickered at $50,699 with destination and delivery. In Ford’s defence though, the base GT with all the power is still under $40K at $39,299.
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