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2010 Ford Mustang V6 Premium Review

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SEE ALSAO: Ford Specs, Prices and Comparisons-Ford Buyers Guide

What the Pony Car Was Meant to Be
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

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Introduced in the spring of 1964 the entire genre of “pony cars” draws its name from Mustang. Lee Iaccoca envisioned the market opportunity and filled it beautifully. I’ll bet even Lee didn’t foresee the popularity and longevity of the market segment or the marque itself. Mustang is now getting close to 50 years old. Amazing!

The pony car segment has always been one of the most competitive and most creative in the entire industry. Often enhanced with big engines and race car handling to cool cosmetics and innovative features the pony car remains strong. Even during those years in the late 70s through the dismal 80s when they all lost their way a bit, Mustang managed to maintain its popularity.

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What we think of as the “new” Mustang came out a few years ago to rave reviews from the media, including this humble writer. Camaro and Firebird had drifted away and Challenger hadn’t been seen for years when Ford decided to redo the iconic Mustang and take it back to it’s venerable roots. With distinctive retro cues, excellent content and good marketing the intuitive folks at Ford made a great decision. And, the new Mustang was a hit right out of the box.

So here we are with the latest iteration. Substantially freshened for 2010 this one reminds me of the restyle of the original for 1967 - just enough embellishment to make it fresh without making appear adulterated. Both inside and out we find just enough updating to distinguish it from its immediate progenitor.

Exterior styling is significantly enhanced with more brash details and more aggressive styling like the treatment around the HID headlights and parking lights which draw attention to themselves like a mandrill with a glowing nose. Sequential taillights adorn the rear along with a modest blip of a wing on the trunk lid. Of course, the overall shape still shouts “Mustang” but many other details get freshened.

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Inside, the stylishly retro dash is upgraded with marginally better materials, redesigned center stack and lovely ambient lighting. (Love that soft lighting!) Seats in this entry level car are the optional leather and plenty comfortable for my broad beam but not particularly sporty. The five-speed shifter is designed with a crisp mechanical and natural feel in a retro kind of way. My only complaint inside is that the seat belt cuts across my neck uncomfortably, a function of the mount being so far behind, a function of this classic two-door style.

As with any of the pony cars the back seat is for small children, animals and people you don’t like very much. An average sized person would have to sit sideways. And, the trunk is small as well with only 12.3 cubic-feet of volume. That’s plenty, though, for two people’s stuff for a good road trip.

Our test car is the basic Mustang V6 Premium with the standard, entry-level engine and 5-speed stick transmission. This combination is estimated to get you 17 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway - 16/24 with automatic transmission. We drove a lot this week in a variety of environments and averaged a respectable 22.5 mpg.

This 4.0-liter V6 only makes 210 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque but it feels like more. (The new entry-level Camaro, you may know, comes with a 300-hp V6.) Perhaps the exceptionally well-tuned exhaust note has something to do with the feel. Edmunds calls it “crude and unpleasant.” I call it a tad raucous but engaging. And the clutch is a little stiff as well, contributing to the ambiance. It really sounds like a V8 to me, with a throaty rumble and grumble. We also hear the starter cranking more than most cars which, I think, contributes to the retro Mustang feel. But the car is not at all noisy in common driving. Whoever developed the acoustical environment did a grand job.

The Ford-exclusive Easy Fuel™ capless fuel filler is pretty slick. No more lost cap or broken tether strap or cap getting in the way. And, of course, its primary purpose is to eliminate escaping gasoline fumes, an atmospheric villain.

Base price for the V6 Premium is $23,995. Our test car has only two options listed, the $995 “Rapid Spec Package” which includes primarily cosmetics, like 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, and the $1,995 Glass Roof option. Total with the $850 destination charge is $27,835. The “Premium” moniker denotes 17-inch wheels, leather, power driver’s seat, the cool SINC audio and telematics system, Shaker stereo with 10 speakers, 4 subwoofers and 1000 watts, leather steering wheel and color adjustable gauges.

The glass roof, by the way, is spectacular. With a manual draw-back shade/light filter it extends fully across the car and nearly to the rear window. It really feels like a convertible when you look up.

Mustang comes in four trim levels, each available in coupe or convertible. Base prices range from $20,995 for the non-Premium base car to $30,995 for the GT Premium. Add $5,000 to each base price for the convertible.

The market comparisons we might make are not as simple as you might think. It’s not just the other retro pony cars - Camaro and Challenger - that compete now. Think about the new rear-wheel drive Hyundai Genesis Coupe V6, or how about the RX8, or BMW 128i, or Nissan 370Z. Those are all six-cylinder, performance-tuned, rear-wheel drive coupes. The latter three will cost a bit more but not the Genesis Coupe. Challenger and Camaro, of course, are most comparable in size and ambiance.

I really hated to give this car back at the end of the week. It’s so much fun to look at and to drive that it was tough letting go. For those who love the pony car genre and the feel of a rear-wheel drive sporty coupe this fresh Mustang won’t disappoint.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

SEE ALSAO: Ford Specs, Prices and Comparisons-Ford Buyers Guide