At first glance, I thought that our red test car priced out at $29,520, and I said to myself, “Yeah, that’s about right for this V-8 pony car.” But then I looked farther down the spec sheet and realized that the as-tested price is actually $36,210! And I immediately thought of the all-new, 2009 Nissan 370Z, a much more modern car that is similarly priced (starts at $30K, easily rises to mid- or high 30s with options). I realize that, to Mustang fans, comparing these two cars is an apples-to-oranges affair. But let’s face it: they’re both rear-wheel-drive, two-door sports cars that are accessible to the common man, so they’re worth considering side by side. And for my $30,000 – or $36,000 – I’d take the tight and taut Nissan over the live-axle, old-tech Mustang any day. However, the new Mustang just debuted at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. Once I drive it, perhaps I’ll change my mind.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
I, too, would love to own a new 370Z. Two-seaters, however, are much less practical than cars like the Mustang, which has a fairly usable back seat and a decent trunk. And you can’t get a burbly V-8 and a stick shift in very many cars in this price range, including the Nissan. True, the Mustang’s 4.6-liter V-8 puts out only 300 hp, but the engine’s sound makes the car feel faster.
The face-lifted 2010 Mustang will be hitting the streets quite soon, so the market for an ’09 like this vehicle is probably limited, particularly considering the current weak economy. The coolest feature of this car is definitely its gigantic fixed glass roof panel. According to fordvehicles.com, you can add this feature to any “Premium” Mustang for $1676. That price seems totally worth it to me, especially considering that the price difference between the base coupe and the base convertible is about $4200. With the glass roof you can enjoy the sun, but unlike a convertible, the cabin isn’t windy in good weather and the roof lets in lots of light in poor weather, which really brightens up the somewhat grim interior. It’d be nice if the roof could open like the Pontiac G6, but the glass panel probably would have to be smaller, which would undermine the exterior looks and probably diminish the impact from within the car.
I can’t wait to drive the ’10 Stang, even though it’s not much different from the ’09 model.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I was initially skeptical of the Mustang. For $36,210, you get a live rear axle – as opposed to the independent setup found on such exotic rides as the Chrysler Sebring – and a 300-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 that is clearly outgunned by the Camaro. The 2002 Camaro.
But all these concerns faded after a one-on-one session. The first thing I noticed was the exhaust: It just sounded right. I spent a half hour driving around downtown Ann Arbor just to hear that sonorous note bouncing off the tall (OK, tall-ish) buildings. That noise, coupled with the live rear axle’s ability to lay down the law at stoplights and the manual transmission’s habit of lunging you into the next gear (likely enhanced by the optional 3.55 rear end) makes you feel as if you’re behind the wheel of something very, very powerful. It’s not nearly as athletic as some of the more modern rear-wheel-drive coupes I’ve driven recently, but then again, the Mustang is much easier to drive.
And drive it I did. During the two nights I had the Mustang, I ran every errand I could think of, once taking the highway three exits past my destination, just because. I peeled out of just about every stoplight, totally wasting the oblivious Corollas and Accords lined up next to me, and unnecessarily revved the engine as I pulled into parking spaces. In other words, I was a stereotypically obnoxious Mustang driver, and I loved every minute of it.
Yes, this car is priced out of its league at $36,210. Even the $29,520 for the premium level GT is pushing it. That’s why, if I were buying a Mustang, I’d make sure to get as little optional equipment as possible. With Ford’s current employee pricing scheme, you can get into a base GT for less than $25,000. At that price, it’s a tempting proposition.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2009 Mustang GT Coupe
Base Price (with destination): $29,520
Price as tested: $36,210
-GT Security Package – $375
-3.55 Ratio Limited Slip Axle – $300
-HID Headlamps – $525
-Comfort Group (Heated Seats) – $575
-DVD Based Navigation System – $1995
-Glass Roof – $1995
-18″ Polished Aluminum Wheels – $925
Fuel Economy: 15 / 23 / 18 (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 4.6L OHC V8
HP: 300 @ 5,750 rpm
Torque: 320 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Safety Ratings (in stars, 1-5):
-Frontal Crash Driver: 5
-Frontal Crash Passenger: 5
-Side Crash Front Seat: 5
-Side Crash Rear Seat: 4
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission
Weight: 3,356 lb
– 18″ Polished Aluminum Wheels (size)