The first thing that struck me was how composed the new Mustang is while driving. The suspension is well-damped and the noise minimal. The look and feel of the cockpit materials are quantum leaps forward from the outgoing model. Genuine aluminum trim and soft-touch plastics abound, and my tester’s heated/cooled (electrically adjustable) leather buckets fit my six-foot frame like a glove. The suspension was set for “normal” via a row of toggles low on the dash, and that’s how it stayed until I made it to Angeles Crest. With the engine in sixth gear, loping along at a lazy 2,000 rpm, it’s easy to envision a road trip that’s measured by more than a quarter-mile.
Before long, the three-lane straightaways of California’s endless freeway system gave way to the s-curves and blind corners of the Angeles Crest Highway. It was time to let the pony out of the gate. The first order of business was to put the car in “track” mode, which firms up the suspension and steering and shuts off the traction control. Thusly armed, it was now up to the EcoBoost turbo four and its flexible power band (maximum torque comes in at 3,000 rpm) to do its thing. Leaving the transmission in third gear for the most part kept the pot on boil, with fourth and second gear only rarely needed—the former to build up speed on the few straight sections, the latter to kick the rear out a smidge on the tighter curves.