Most of the time, we don’t give much thought to car seats. Other things – drivetrain, styling, value, etc. – tend to be uppermost in our list of wants when we go shopping for a new set of wheels and we just take the backside part of the driving experience for granted. And, let’s face it, the seats in today’s breed of automobile are usually fine.
But every now and again, I run into a car that is intolerably uncomfortable. The last one that hit me this way was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo – I could hardly drive it more than a block or two without my back erupting into spasms of pain, and just getting in and out of the thing was an obstacle course.
We may have a new winner: the Mustang GT. Unlike the garden-variety version, this model comes with Recaro seats – essentially the same ones found in the Shelby GT500 and Boss 302. I’ve driven both of these and, for some reason, comfort was not an issue – perhaps it was because the performance factor on these two is so overwhelming, you scarcely notice what kind of seat you’re in.
But that was not the case with the GT. I liked just about everything else about this car, but my lower back gave me fits when I drove it for any length of time. After a few minutes, I had to actually lean forward as far as possible to ease the pain, and getting in and out of the car was, well, a pain in the butt – almost like getting into a full-zoot race car. As an aside, this is not my first exposure to Recaro seats; I’ve actually owned cars in the past that have had them installed and, aside from being firmer than I prefer, I’ve gotten along with them just fine. I’ve also owned – and continue to own – a succession of British sports cars and comfort has never really been an issue (well, maybe once or twice). Anyway, if you’re contemplating this model for purchase, be warned.
Elsewhere, power is handily provided by a 5.0-litre V-8 that bangs out 420 horsepower. I love this engine; virtually endless power, abundant torque, and one of the sweetest exhaust notes in the business. If you’re a motorhead, you’re gonna love this one.
Two transmissions are available: six-speed manual and six-speed automatic. My tester had the former and, if you want to get the full flavour of this car, it’s the only choice. But again, don’t expect slick, buttery-smooth linkage, because what you get is old-school muscle-car shift changes that require more effort than you would normally find in other models. Fortunately, there is so much raw torque and power coming out of this engine, you don’t need to row your way through the gears on a continual basis. You can be lazy if you choose.
As well as the Recaros, the GT also comes with a full complement of modcons and standard equipment, including dual-zone air conditioning, hill start assist, heated front seats, ambient lighting in seven different colours and an upgraded “shaker” sound system. My tester – the Premium version – also had a few extras in the form of a decent-sized sunroof ($2,200), back-up camera ($300) and Ford’s MyTouch electronics package ($2,300). Give this last item a pass; a car like this doesn’t need any more distractions than it already has.
My tester also had a performance racing package ($2,200), which is intriguing; it features larger 19-inch wheels and tires, a limited-slip Torsen differential, Brembo brakes, upgraded radiator and an engine cooler. Toss in the fact that the aforementioned Recaro seats are built to accommodate helmets, and you have a car that is ready for track day. An instant weekend warrior. Ford is also one of the few manufacturers that openly encourages owners to go racing and has never forgotten its performance roots. Few car makers can match this company when it comes to motorsport heritage.
But you better hit the gym before you hit the track because this car is a handful. Thoroughly up to date, it is nonetheless still a muscle car that is heavy at the helm, prone to understeer and treacherous in wet weather. Don’t forget: there’s 420 horsepower under your right foot, and that changes everything. Take this car lightly and you may regret it. An everyday commuter car it ain’t.
But props to Ford for putting it on the market. With political correctness staring us in the face everywhere we go, and the threat of bike paths ahead of highways just over the horizon, it’s refreshing to get behind the wheel of a car that says: “To hell with it – let’s have some fun.”
Not cheap, though. With all the extras, you’ll leave 50 large behind and, after taxes and what-not, you’ll see 60 large. I guess that’s the price of performance.
2013 Ford Mustang GT Premium
Type: Performance coupe
Base Price: $39,799; as tested: $50,449
Engine: 5.0-litre V-8
Horsepower/torque: 420 hp/390 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.8 city/7.9 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger