UK journalist, Chris Harris, has recently sampled the new Ford Mustang GT 5.0. Harris is well known for sliding about in some of the world’s most powerful sports cars. He regularly drives McLarens, Porsches, Ferraris and Aston Martins, so when he claims that a car is good, it’s good. Well in his recent test of the Mustang, he pours admiration for it, as a sort of plucky underdog sports car. He claims that it isn’t as sophisticated as the best sports cars from Europe, but that it doesn’t need to be because it’s simpler than that. It just a simple formula for fun motoring; big V8 up front, six-speed manual in the middle and drive to the rear. He even says the new independent rear suspension works quite well, and proves it by sliding the hell out of it on a track.
One of the more interesting things Harris says about the new Mustang is that while the BMW M3 is twice the money, it isn’t twice the car. That’s quite interesting, because the Mustang is often looked at as a sort of redneck that doesn’t come close to the level of European sports cars, especially ones as heralded as the M3. So is the Mustang a sort of poor man’s M3, or M4 in this case? Well it’s worth looking at.
The Mustang has similar horsepower to the M4 (425 for the M4 and 435 for the Mustang), has rear-wheel drive and a limited slip differential like the M4, is available with a six-speed and is about as fast. The Mustang is capable of sprinting from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, while it take a manually-equipped M4 4.1 seconds to do the same. It doesn’t handle as well nor is it as comfortable or as well equipped. But that’s why it would be a poor man’s M3. It just needs to be about 70-80 percent of the M4 to gain such a title, and I think it does do that.
Considering the price difference of almost $40,000, when both are fully loaded, the Mustang seems like a worthy alternative to the M4 if you haven’t got the scratch. Plus, according to Harris, the Mustang has an inherent likability. There’s a certain happiness to the car that seems to be missing from many German sports cars today. The Mustang seems to want to play while the M4 is very serious and wants to get good lap times. So while the Mustang might not be the better handler of the two, nor is it the fastest or most refined or even the best looking, it’s considerably cheaper and inherently likable. So does that make the Ford Mustang GT 5.0 a poor man’s BMW M4?