Pony Ride: A Photoshoot Roadtrip In A 2017 Mustang GT
Words & Photography: Luke Ray.
It was late last year, summer was approaching and I had some great content plans building up in Sydney. The usual approach to an interstate work trip consists of crawling the Web for the cheapest flights, rental cars and rooms, tallying it all up and sliding the final numbers over to ‘accounts’ (wife) for approval. This time was to be different. After seeing more and more ‘new’ Mustangs on the roads in Australia, I was feeling a strong urge to try one out. But not just for an afternoon to take a quick look, I wanted to spend some time with the ‘Stang and get a good feel for it. Interstate trip coming? Urge to drive a Mustang? It was a no-brainer.
The chariot of choice was the V8 GT. I’d love to give the EcoBoost a go for a comparison another time, but for this first introduction the hairy-chested five litre was the way to go. The spec? ‘Magnetic’ metallic grey with 19” ‘Lustre’ wheels. It’s probably in the top two spec combinations that I’ve seen so far on this car and it really does look the business.
The first slog was a solid 500km to Tumut in NSW where the Mustang truly earned its GT moniker. With most of the drive being on the highway, the Mustang just ate up the kays. I was a little pre-concerned that things were going to get a bit noisy and the ride was going to be a little on the harsh side, but no such worries were present. Nor for that matter during the whole trip. The GT just hunkered down and got on with it, the cosseting leather seats keeping things feeling just right.
If you happen to look at Tumut NSW on a map, you’d notice that it’s not right on the highway. It’s close enough to it to be a credible Melbourne-to-Sydney midway point, but just far enough off it to give about half an hour of thankfully more enjoyable driving. I figured with so much distance to cover and Australia’s busiest city as my destination, this might be one of my only chances to have a bit of fun. Pleasantly, fun is exactly what I had. The twists and turns gave me a chance to put the six speed gearbox through its paces. This is where the smiles came in. After eating up the highway slog, I felt like the GT was giving me a high five and thanking me for letting it loosen up and flex its muscles. At no point during that rewarding thirty minutes did I feel like things were going to get tricky. If anything it was all smiles from my side. Not just from the fun that this car can give, but also smiles of disbelief that a car that does feel a little on the heavy side and that had soaked up those last 500kms so well could power through country lanes with such grace.
So on to Sydney where the GT spent the next couple of days guiding me through city streets and assisting with photo shoots. She made some new friends along the way too. We hung out with Porsches, Mopar, custom cars and hot rods. The owners of which all only had good things to say about the GT. The general comments seemed to be about keeping the heritage whilst moving the brand on and I’m inclined to agree. I got to spend time looking at the Mustang from all different angles, overhead included and it’s clear to me that the Detroit designers pondered heavily over every line of this car. It won’t go down in history as one of the most beautiful cars in the World, but it works. I feel that design is about a product serving a purpose and doing the job that it needs to do, successfully settling in the environment to which it is born. The 2016 Mustang GT looks like a purposeful, contemporary muscle car and that’s what the 2016 Mustang GT is. So, job done. Well done guys.
I might not get so excited about the interior. The driving position is great. The high transmission tunnel sits at just the right height for cog changes and keeps reminding you that all the fun is happening out there at the back. Everything’s in the right place and for a driving experience, the inside of the GT is a nice place to be. But… I’m not sure that the aesthetics of the design itself push the Mustang on in design terms as well as the exterior does. That combined with the quality of the materials still needing work results in a vanilla interior that just gets the job done.
It seems to me as though Ford have hit a sweet spot here. At just over $57,000 (Aud), the GT manual gives a pure modern muscle experience and some on-the-road exclusivity to boot. Sure, you’ll get the growl and much higher quality from a new AMG Mercedes, but you’ll also have to pay about three times the price. I don’t know about you, but I see more of them on the road than Mustangs, so who’s got the more exclusive wheels?
This is going to sound horribly cliche, but I think the big draw card for the Mustang is the way it makes you feel. When you’re driving it, you feel the long line of history and lineage behind this car (just skip over the ‘80s though, that part doesn’t feel very good) and that is really important. If you’re an auto enthusiast, how you feel when you get behind the wheel is a huge part of why you get in a car in the first place. Different cars evoke different feelings. In this instance, you’re driving a Mustang. A Mustang that not only has one of the most iconic historical families in automotive history, but a Mustang that can hold it’s own on the road in 2017 as a credible, entertaining driving machine.
My Magnetic GT performed perfectly for the whole trip and carried me back to Melbourne whilst never allowing me to feel tired of the ride or urging me to get home quicker so that we could all take a rest. Getting back into the daily Skoda wagon work horse took some adjusting to but it was a sharp reminder that my daily life involves carting around awkwardly shaped gear, boxes of magazines and a couple of small humans, sometimes all of the above at the same time. Although, after seeing the smile on Mrs Ray’s face after some time in the Mustang, I think a seed has been planted. Fingers crossed.
This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 24.