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TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Ford Mustang to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove several Ford Mustang editions, including the limited-edition Bullitt, and have added driving impressions and details about this American pony car. In addition, this review compares the 2008 Ford Mustang with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.
Those clever Ford marketing types--as they continue to roll out new Mustang models for 2008, they used a line internally to keep their team focused: "A steed for every need." So is this true or just banal marketing hyperbole? Looking at the 2008 Ford Mustang, TheCarConnection.com thinks Ford is onto something.
Experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven just about every variety of the 2008 Mustang, and we appreciate the available flavors. Let's do a quick rundown. From Ford, 2008 Mustang body styles include a 2+2 coupe and convertible. Both body styles seat two comfortably, and the rear seats are more than adequate for kids. Adults won't mind short trips stuck in back, but the operative word is "stuck." Three main powertrains are available: a base 4.0-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8, and a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. Automatic and manual gearboxes are available, depending on the model.
Specific horsepower varies by model, which includes the Mustang V6 with 210 hp (coupe and convertible); the V-8 powered Mustang GT with 300 hp (coupe and convertible); the Bullitt V-8 coupe with 319 hp; the Shelby GT500 with 500 hp (coupe and convertible); and the limited-edition Shelby GT500KR coupe with 540 hp.
Regarding engines, if you can afford a V-8, get one. The V-6 nets you only a 1 mpg increase in the city and highway, so it's hardly worth dealing with the engine's coarseness and lack of power compared to the step-up 4.6-liter (with 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the five-speed manual transmission). But if you're into saving pennies (and big dollars up front), the V-6 is more than adequate and still feels quite sporty, though you'll want the optional anti-lock brakes.
Moving up to the 2008 Mustang GT, on the road, the chassis is rigid, and while that may sound bad, it's actually good. A stiff chassis means that the suspension can be tuned to absorb road imperfections, delivering a pretty smooth ride with very good handling. While the Mustang uses a solid rear axle just like when it was introduced in 1964, it works well. From the driver's seat, all is good. The interior is fun, with sporty styling cues. Quality of materials is on the way up at Ford. The exhaust rumble from the V-8 is nice to hear and reminds you that you're driving something with American roots. There is a fair amount of road and tire noise, but this isn't a luxury car. Side airbags are now standard on all 2008 Ford Mustang models.
Based on TheCarConnection.com's experience with Mustangs on racetracks, this pony knows how to gallop. The Mustang GT is an easy car to drive quickly on the track because it responds to the helm and throttle with equal aplomb. The car possesses very good balance.
Regarding the Shelby GT500, the driving experience changes completely. Powered by the iron-block 5.4-liter Triton V-8 with a supercharger, it churns out 500 hp through a six-speed manual gearbox. Its suspension features plenty of unique performance pieces, and the brakes are massive 14-inch, four-pot Brembo units. Both front and rear brake discs are vented. This car swooshes along, vacuuming up track like a rabid Hoover. While clearly faster than the Mustang GT, the Shelby GT500 feels much heavier because understeer is more prominent. Around the streets of Detroit, the big Shelby feels like a classic Motown muscle car-big, brawny, and ready to brawl.