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AND THEN THERE WERE SIX

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, May 30, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

AND THEN THERE WERE SIX By BRIAN KENNEDY

So the V8 Mustang GT is fast. Too fast - for your insurance company, your gasoline bill, your neighborhood streets. But you want a pony car. Your first, your last, whatever. It doesn't matter. You're determined. Then you see the commercial that promises that there are V6s available, and that the engine has horsepower greater than that of the original V8. And you remember that back in the 'Sixties they tried this, advertising sixes when they ran out of V8s. It was called the Sprint package, and it wasn't much more than a chrome air cleaner and some fancy wheels. You're a savvy consumer, too smart to fall for that.

That is what I thought, too. Then I drove one. Let's just cut to the point - this thing is fast. Not blindingly, screamingly fast like its big brother. But plenty fast. I don't mean zippy, darty, or any other "y" word that substitutes for slow the way "cute" in real-estatese means "closet-sized." I mean, fast. Try this: take one for a test drive. Get to the bottom of an uphill freeway onramp. Floor the thing. Don't let up no matter what. That's what I did, and the automatic kept the gears rowing right up to seventy without a dip in rpm. The shifts just went from gear to gear with a "wahh, wahh, wahh." No slop, no dead spots. Just throttle driving the rear wheels. It was quick enough to be a happy experience. Around-town driving was the same, albeit with a little bit of lag when the gears change. Driving a stick might have alleviated that, though.

So what to do? I can't believe I'm saying this: Get one. Yes, get a V6. It's all the car you need, enough to feel muscular, but without the drawbacks of the GT mentioned above, the most annoying of which is its greatest strength. It's just a bit too fast to use, at least in the kind of cop-heavy places where I drive. But the six - you can feel like you're thrashing it, and stay within keep-my-license territory safely. Oh, be a little bit inventive. Put the dual exhaust on it from an aftermarket company so it looks like the GT. Then run the snot out of it every chance you get while it's under warranty. Three years from now, decide whether it's going to hold together or whether you ought to dump it. But in the meantime, these are the days of your youth. No matter what age you are.

SIDEBAR COMMENT Much is being written about the new, 1960s-inspired 2005 Ford Mustang. Most of the attention has been focused on the GT model, with its 300-horsepower V8 engine. I've driven it. It's pretty damn fast, and a quantum improvement over the 5.0L I owned many moons ago. And then I had an opportunity to drive the base car - a V6 model. At a tad under $20,000, it's certainly the price leader. It's not, however, the car that the magazines have been writing about. The GT has been getting a heap of praise, but you can't touch one for under $25,000. Be it known: The Mustang V6 is an amazingly attractive buy. At 210 horses, it puts out more power than some V8 Mustangs of the past. Of course, it gets better gas mileage, but Ford says it's also more than 50 percent cleaner than last year's Mustang engines. Even more surprising, Ford somehow managed to extract a beautiful, V8-like rumble out of the exhaust. The power and sound are so deceptive that I had to stop the car to see if there was a V8 lurking under the hood.

Our test car had the optional leather interior, but even the standard cloth seats are attractive, with Mustang lettering running horizontally on the seat inserts. The material is like something you'd expect out of a VW GTI - not the fuzzy mouse fur found on most base cars. Most of the interior shots of the Mustang show it with the optional silver appliqué that came with our test vehicle. I finally saw one with the standard dark charcoal finish, and it looks understated and tasteful - in an Audi A3 sort of way. The bottom line: Unless you plan on drag racing the car or taking it on weekend autocrosses, the V6 version of the Mustang is a mighty good (and inexpensive) alternative to the Mustang GT. It's got all of the GT's heritage styling (it even comes standard with a set of smart-looking aluminum wheels), without the GT's price premium. If you can resist the temptation to load it up with options, you've got a Mustang that looks like an instant classic at a bargain price. Unlike the mid-1960s Mustangs, however, this one is a helluva lot safer and loads more reliable. - Roy Nakano For more information on Ford products, go to www.fordvehicles.com.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle 2005 Ford Mustang V6 Coupe

Price, as tested $22,905 (base: $19,215)

Engine type V6 4.0 liters Max Horsepower: 210 hp at 5300 rpm

Torque 240 ft-lbs. at 3500 rpm

Transmission Five-speed automatic (standard: five-speed manual transmission)

Drive configuration Rear-wheel drive Suspension Front: Reverse L MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar Rear: Three-link solid axle with coil springs

Exterior Length: 187.6 in. Width: 74 in. Height: 54.5 in. Wheel Base: 107.1 in. Ground Clearance: 5.7 in. Turning Circle: 36.0 ft Curb Weight: 3300 lbs. Interior Front Head Room: 38.6 in. Front Hip Room: 53.6 in. Front Shoulder Room: 55.4 in. Front Leg Room: 42.7 in. Luggage Capacity 13.1 cu. ft. Maximum Seating 4 Fuel Tank Capacity 16 gal. EPA Mileage Estimates (City/Highway) Manual: 19 mpg / 28 mpg Manual: 19 mpg / 25 mpg

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