San Francisco: A
recent test drive of Ford's 1999 Mustang GT Coupe resulted in a week of great motoring,
which is the nucleus of the Mustang dogma. For the young or the young at heart, Mustang is
still the Number One Pony Car ever built, fun to drive and affordable to own. It was the
first "pony" to make the scene back in 1964 as an all-original Ford idea. Our
test Mustang arrived in bright red metallic with polished aluminum wheels and tan
interior. A premium sound system, with CD player and cassette, is now standard in both
flip top and coupe models. Other standard items include air conditioning, power windows,
power door locks, power decklid release and remote keyless entry.
Our GT received motivation
from a well-built and upgraded 4.6-liter SOHC V-8, which now puts out a throaty 260
horsepower, up from last year's 225. This 35-horsepower increase is a pleasant addition,
erasing the sole performance complaint we had when comparing a '98 GT to the General
Motors twins of Camaro and Firebird. The 260-horse engine is a far cry though, from the
32-valve Double Over Head Cam (DOHC) SVT Cobra's engine, which we'll test later this year
(by 60 horsepower and $6,000 more). However, we'll also admit GT is by no means a slouch,
and could possibly be a better buy than the Cobra if one's budget plays a major role.
Unlike the Mustang GT's solid rear axle, the Cobra features an independent rear suspension
"live axle" setup, something we'd like to see the GT adapt in the future. Leave
the solid rear axle for the 6-cylinder version, and give the GT the added
"Cobra" handling accent it deserves.
The GT is also capable of
giving great gas mileage too, with 27 highway and 17 city, by the numbers. In the looks
department, the '99 Mustang is tweaked a bit over last year, and more pleasing to the eye.
The design has an uncanny ability to appeal to both young and middle-aged drivers, as many
baby boomers enjoy driving Mustang GTs.
Now, back to the car
itself. We drove the Mustang on daily 60-mile commutes, highlighted by twisting, country
roads and some nice, long straight-aways. The central California backdrop makes this
experience both aesthetically pleasing while allowing a more than capable test drive
exercise. Our morning runs through the country hills and valleys made Mustang's comfort
and handling ability a standout, especially when compared to the GM competition. Thus,
Mustang receives a one-up for those who insist on more comfort in their Pony Car choice.
The power resulting from
the five-speed motivated, 3.27:1 rear axle equipped GT makes merging and passing easy,
with brisk acceleration awaiting consumers. As we've said before, a powerful car in the
right hands is a safer car, overall. This Mustang will accelerate to 60-mph in 5.5
seconds, and run the quarter mile in 14.2 at about 100. That's very fast, considering the
Cobra, at $6K more, will run to 60 in 5.3 seconds and turn the quarter mile in 13.8 at
103. To some, it's worth $6 grand more, to others it's not. The sticker price of our GT
came in at $22,000 - a price we feel is very attractive for this type of V8 sportster.
(The 3.8-liter 6-cylinder versions go much cheaper). On the resale market, Mustang is
average to slightly above average in resale value, with an active secondary market of
younger buyers awaiting the day you might trade in your GT.
Competition comes from the
aforementioned Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, both capable foes and both on the
endangered species list over at GM. This is a puzzling situation in our minds, wondering
why a manufacturer like General Motors would even think of dropping some of the most
exciting cars they build, and build so well. Still, in many areas, albeit very close in
comparison, we feel the Mustang is the better buy, especially in the comfort and upgraded
power area. Mustang also offers a better base price value, and suffers only in the all-out
performance department, where the Trans-Am and Z-28's with the new SB2 Chevy/GM V-8 out
powers Mustang GT handily (5.2 to 60 mph and 13.4 in the quarter at 106). However, if the
Cobra SVT option is ordered, then it's a much closer comparison all around.
In summary, we're still
giving the edge to Mustang in the Pony Car match-ups, thanks to the overall comfort and
enhanced performance factors. Mustang GT stands out, handles very well, and regardless of
the road, is the most fun to drive. By Greg Zyla © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: By Greg
Zyla © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: The Extra Mile
Topic: '99 Ford Mustang GT
Word Count: 650
Photo Caption: '99 Ford Mustang GT
Photo Credits: Wieck Photo
Series #: 1999 - 22