It’s clear that if popularity decided the results at PCOTY this blue-collar hero would swagger its way up the rankings. For Ford, selling a rear-drive atmo 5.0-litre V8 in a rig this sexy is yielding the same kind of success as culling ’roos with a Minigun.
We were reminded of this when, with the 911 GT2 RS and Audi R8 V10 RWS in clear sight, a punter at The Bend picked it as the one car he would want a ride in.
We couldn’t grant the poor bloke his wish, as the Mustang GT completed its hot laps a little too literally in Rick’s hands and went into ‘limp mode’ after setting a respectable lap time. But he would have been a happy man hearing its engine rap its warcry off pit wall from the passenger seat. It’s arguably the best sounding car for under $100K.
Upgraded heavily in 2018 form with better breathing and optimised internals its Coyote V8 revs to 7400rpm with the 10-speed auto. That’s almost as hard as the fancy DOHC unit you’d find in a Lexus RC F twice its price, while 339kW and 556Nm means it’ll give it a proper arm wrestle, too.
Although the new transmission couldn’t hack the heat, it certainly delivered the goods when it counted on the strip. On the road you need to dig in the spurs for it to respond, and it’ll fire down through the gears during hard braking, but it can also fumble with what gear to give you (can you blame it?) when pootling around at half attack.
Opinions divided on its handling. There’s not much information coming through the tiller, despite the darty front-end, and its big rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres dominate the grip balance. Rick liked the predictability of its understeer into and out of corners, but the tied-down rear-end and lofty power peak means only the brave will try hang it out from the rear.
It’s clear from the scores the judges rated it for value. But mystery surrounded whether the adaptive dampers make enough of a difference for $2750. They hold the car well laterally and add front purchase. However, it’s hard to tell how much this car’s optional forged alloys had to do with the improved ride over the standard suspension.
Technology crippled the Mustang’s fun in the end. And herein lies its philosophy – peel back the fancy hardware and you’ll find an honest, good looking and great sounding ponycar. But as the results show, even with movie-star looks and down-to-earth credentials, the judges didn’t love it as much as the punters might.
There can only be one Performance Car of the Year 2019
2019 FORD MUSTANG GT SPECS:
Engine: 5038cc V8, DOHC, 32v
Power: 339kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 556Nm @ 4600rpm
0-400m: 12.64sec @ 188.91km/h
The Bend lap time: 1min 34.0sec
Dylan Campbell - 9th
"Good, but still not as dynamically capable as the VF II SS-V Redline was. And it should be."
Louis Cordony - 10th
"Cooler than Ice Cube at the North Pole, but still no stunner to drive. "
David Morley - 10th
"Extra power hard to reach and new auto leaves me wondering."
Scott Newman - 10th
"Impressive pace useless if you’re unable to use it."
Rick Kelly - 4th
"A head-turning daily driver that's great value for money."
PCOTY 2019 Scoring