Last week at our Performance Car of the Year testing, we had a 2015 Mustang GT in our high-horsepower posse. It was…quite popular. Without further ado, here is a collection of our impressions, plus our official test data.

And fret not, there’s more to come. Jason Cammisa is at the official launch right now, driving the full lineup of cars. He’ll have additional reporting once his seat time is complete.

Much to the aggravation of Web Director Alex Nunez, I’m just not a Mustang kind of guy. Yeah, I wanted a Fox-body 5.0 back in high school when they lived in new-car showrooms and I had never driven one. I’d find out later on that the intoxicating sound and butch looks weren’t enough to make up for how poorly it actually drove. The first time I drove something German and nimble, my pony-car fantasies subsided.

The last-gen Mustang was a boatload of fun—especially in Boss 302 form—and a few friends bought them with my honest blessings. That said, I can’t deny that much of my praise was given with a “…for a Mustang” disclaimer.

The first thing you’ll think when you sit in the new car is the same thing you thought when you saw the outside: whoopdie-doo, it’s a Mustang. Inside, it looks like a Mustang, feels like a Mustang, sounds like a Mustang, and smells like a Mustang. I was immediately disappointed. You know, because that sorta thing just isn’t my sorta thing.

It all changed the instant the wheels began to turn. It’s no exaggeration to say that the new car has kept everything I loved about the last car (that awesome 5.0-liter V-8) and vanquished everything I didn’t.

The Mustang is no longer aloof. It’s no longer distant, recalcitrant, or wooden. You start moving, and it feels like a compact car. The V-8 revs like a four-cylinder. Rather than denying them completely, the shifter encourages quick shifts. The clutch’s takeup is right where, when, and how you expect it to be. The steering is quick enough to be lively, relaxed enough not to be neurotic.

There’s power everywhere. And then there’s that new independent rear suspension. At long last, an independent rear. What that means, mostly, is that there’s finally a Mustang that rides well without being simultaneously harsh and floaty. And it puts power down like a champ—no longer just in a straight line, but on corner exit, too.

Power slides are (duh) a stab of the right foot away – and they’re incredibly easy to manage. The Mustang has become an American, V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive VW GTI in that its limits are obscenely accessible. It encourages you to touch them. Repeatedly.

On a road loop with blind corners and variable pavement, I practically lit the GT’s brakes on fire. Not because the enormous Brembos were undersize or received too little cooling air. I was driving like a maniac, flat-out where I could see straight ahead, sideways where I couldn’t. I was once again a teenager with a smile on my face and a license that could (and probably should) be revoked at any instant.

The 5.0 is torque everywhere and now makes 435 hp. That’s more than double what the old pushrod 302 made when I wanted one. The only thing this engine doesn’t make enough of is noise. It’s too quiet. For a Mustang.

And that’s the only time you’ll hear the words “…for a Mustang” from me.

 

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