Our 2010 Mustang GT test car was a GT coupe with a starting price of $27,995 and a bottom line of $34,015 with the $850 delivery charge and options thrown in, including Track Pack (19-inch summer tires and alloy wheels, 3.73:1 axle ratio, revised traction control and yaw control parameters, and upgraded suspension), security package, and comfort group.
The 2010 Mustang GT carries an upgraded 4.6-liter 3-valve V8 engine rated at 315 horsepower (up from 300 on the 2009 version) and 325 foot-pounds of torque (up from 2009's 320 lb-ft). The redline has been raised 250 rpm to 6500 rpm for 2010. The engine has two built-in calibrations for regular or premium fuel (the use of premium fuel adds up to 10 foot-pounds of torque between 1000 and 3000 rpm, they tell us).
The new engine gets its cold intake air from a system built into the grille, not under the hood, the lowest-restriction air intake system ever on the Mustang, with an air induction sound pipe that goes right into the cockpit to make it more pleasing to the driver at full throttle. Ford says the fresh air system alone is worth three tenths of a second in 0-60 mph acceleration improvement because the engine makes much more power with cold air. On the exhaust side, the V-8 version gets 3.5-inch exhaust pipes versus 3.0-inch pipes on the last Mustang, and the V-6 version gets 3.0-inch exhaust pipes instead of 2.5-inch pipes. The standard axle ratio is 3.31:1, with two optional ratios, 3.55:1 or 3.73:1, which automatically comes with larger brakes.
The GT chassis has been upgraded and stiffened using parts and pieces from the 2009 Bullitt Mustang, which means it rides tauter, turns in quicker and has less pitch, dive and body roll than any previous Mustang, as much as 20 percent less body roll. The GT rides on 235/50R18 tires, with 245/45R19 tires optional. If the 19-inch tire and wheel option is selected, the car will automatically be built with a strut tower brace under the hood to connect the two front struts for more strength and better, more accurate handling.
The new tires, whether 17-, 18-, or 19-inch, have been chosen for their much higher levels of both wet and dry grip, and Ford says the 19-inch tires can produce skidpad performance exceeding 0.9g, which is very, very good for such a low-priced car.
ABS brakes, traction control and AdvanceTrac yaw control are standard on all models. For track work, both the traction control and the yaw control can be turned off (but not the ABS), and there is a Sport mode which allows higher handling limits before traction and yaw controls are called in to save the day.
With all of that as prelude, the GT V-8 is an absolute blast to drive. It's very quick off the mark, the manual shifter shifts more cleanly, and the engine sound is always brawny and throaty and beautiful, from its lumpy idle to redline at 6500 rpm. The clutch pedal is light and easy to use, even crawling through rush hour L.A. traffic on Sunset Boulevard.
In the canyons north of L.A., the Mustang showed off more new moves than the entire cast of Dancing With The Stars, extremely quick to transition from left to right and back again with a minimum of body roll, dive and pitch in the suspension.
Likewise, the brakes have much less slop in the pedal, work faster and work harder than the brakes on the outgoing model, very reassuring once you find out just how quick and how fast this new Mustang really is.