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We got a chance to briefly pilot base and GT Mustang coupes on the roads draped across the foothills north of Malibu—some of California’s more challenging stretches of tarmac.
Our first stint was in a blazing Orange Fury Metallic GT equipped with the six-speed manual and the optional Performance package, which for V-8 models adds tauter suspension, Brembo six-piston front brake calipers, more robust engine cooling, a Torsen limited-slip differential, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tires—255/40R-19 front, 275/40R-19 rear—on black-painted aluminum wheels.
The car was pinned to the road as if pressed into it by the great engineer in the sky, seemingly tethered around the torturously tight turns—which allowed us to pin the throttle aggressively even across pavement heaves.
Nor was the firm ride unduly harsh, likely a benefit of the Magne Ride dampers—something we’ve long appreciated in Camaros.
Torque is up to 350 lb-ft now, an increase of 30 lb-ft.There’s plenty of power underfoot; we expect it to bust out a five-second zero-to-60-mph run, and the harsh resonances this engine used to emit have seemingly been quelled.The 2.3-liter car’s handling limits are a bit less heroic and more approachable than the GT’s—it rolls on less aggressive summer rubber—but it ate up the serpentine mountain roads like a polished pro nonetheless.We’ll have to wait until we get a GT back on our chunky Michigan roads to see whether it can match its rival’s ride comfort, as the twisty California pavement had nary a blemish to jar the chassis.We also got a chance to flog a base turbocharged 2.3-liter version—last year’s base V-6 has been dropped—kitted out with the Performance package and the 10-speed automatic.
It doesn’t jam you into the seatback with the low-rpm gut punch of the Camaro SS and its substantially larger V-8; the Mustang’s power comes on more like a Porsche’s, building steadily and ever more ferociously.