A Mustang is an inherently backwards car, and it deserves the most backwards engine available: a ludicrously powerful, gas-slurping V8. We hear the cries now: the Mustang has a modern, independent suspension! It has an available turbocharged four-cylinder! The Drive Modes! Launch control! It sure does, and all of those high-tech trimmings adorn an intrinsically old school design: It's big, has two doors, and flaunts its rear-wheel power. It's not a practical car and it was never supposed to be. It's an all-American monster.
The fact that the Mustang can't be broken is the reason it demands respect. We love it because it’s the latest edition of the sixties’ favorite accessible, sporty car. It’s the soulful choice, not the sensible one. Saddling your pleasure-mobile with an efficient engine, the four-cylinder, undermines the whole point of the car: fun.
First on the inventory of the car’s joy-inducing components is the engine, a 5-liter Coyote V8. It debuted last generation as an entirely new, aluminum-block engine, and has been tweaked up to 435 horsepower for this year. Like the smaller engines could never be, the V8 is super-sensual: loud, raspy, burbling, torquey and animalistic. Above all, unlike the 5.0 in Mustangs of the eighties, this 5.0 makes the Mustang a truly fast car.
The second thing we love about Ford’s retro confection is the wrapper. While the haters say the front of the Mustang looks like a Fusion, we say that the Fusion’s nose is the most beautiful on any sedan short of the Aston Martin Rapide—that comparison is a compliment. The rest of the body is streamlined versus the last generation’s blocky bod, but it keeps the killer rear deck and long hood. Like Jennifer Lopez, the Mustang is somehow tighter, lighter and more beautiful than its younger self while retaining all of the visual cues we’ve loved for decades.
The last generation Mustang had a high-style, low-quality interior. This generation looks much the same—sporty sixties throwback—with the important difference being that Ford ponied-up and paid for real leather and real aluminum. Lower-seating, a shorter shifter and a smaller steering wheel allow drivers to point their raucous sports coupe exactly where they’d please.
The Mustang is an indulgence and deserves to be enjoyed in its full-fat version. Don’t get frozen yogurt in a milkshake, don’t get turkey in your burger, and don’t get a four-cylinder in your Mustang—get the V8. Do so, and you’ll be so intoxicated with V8 noise and tire smoke that you’ll forget all about the rational choice you should have made.