You also sit lower in the car, as opposed to earlier Fox-body cars, which provides a slightly sportier feel than the sitting-tall position. The shifter looks short and stubby, but that's an optical illusion because the console is taller than before. The shifter position was nearly perfect for my relatively short frame, although my elbow tended to back into the storage-compartment lid, which has sharp corners.
The instrument panel's prominent, round air-conditioning outlets allow 360-degree rotation, so air can be directed in nearly any direction, including almost straight up. The passenger-side airbag panel is flat and barren; we can already see "Mustang" script decals or emblems coming from the aftermarket, especially considering the word "Mustang" doesn't appear anywhere on the car (unless it's a V-6 with cloth seats; see photo).
RoadworthyOn the road, the '05 Mustang is, again, a totally new car. It's definitely a Mustang, only better. According to Team Mustang Chief Engineer Hau Thai-Tang, the torsional stiffness of the '05 Mustang's "unique, all-purpose chassis" is 31 percent stiffer than previous SN-95 Mustangs. And you can feel it immediately. Gone is the Fox-body's inherent cowl shake, which was much improved with the '99 and later cars but not totally eliminated. You don't have to grit your teeth or hang on to the steering wheel when driving over rough railroad crossings anymore. The car feels tight, which gives it a higher-quality feel all around.
The all-new suspension, with its longer wheelbase, true MacPherson-strut front suspension, and solid rear axle, is taut but not harsh. Combined with the stiffer chassis, the '05 Mustang GT possesses excellent road feel without rattling your teeth fillings. We especially like the improved turning radius. At one point during our road trip, we missed a turn and performed a quick U-turn on a two-lane highway. We couldn't have done it in an '04 Mustang.
The '05 is also quiet inside- enough to allow normal conversation at 70 mph or more. Wind noise is nearly nonexistent, and with the mufflers at the rear of the car and not underneath the rear seats as they were for the last 40 years, the exhaust tone at cruise speeds is barely audible. Under acceleration, it's a different story, which we'll talk about later. The combination of cabin quiet and smooth ride can get you in trouble, so keep your eye on the speedometer-you may be going faster than you think.
Power PerformanceWith 300 hp on tap from the new three-valve 4.6, we couldn't wait to find a desolate straightaway to stretch the legs on the '05 Mustang GT. When we finally romped on the throttle, two things stood out: the sensation of acceleration and the sound.
At full throttle, the GT doesn't feel fast. Unlike the previous GT with its two-valve powerplant that comes on stronger as the tach spins to the right, the '05's power comes on smoothly, feeling like a cross between the two-valve 4.6 and a naturally aspirated four-valve 4.6, which makes perfect sense for a three-valve. Part of the smoothness can be attributed to the variable camshaft timing and charge motion control valves in the intake runners, which help provide a smooth transition from strong low-end torque to screaming high-rpm power.
While the GT doesn't feel fast, it sounds fast at full throttle, especially from inside the car. To maintain the Mustang GT's signature exhaust note, Team Mustang engineers relied on Ford's in-house audio listening laboratory to help create the '05 GT's mufflers and exhaust system. According to Thai-Tang, they also engineered more induction sound. The result is power in stereo: a wicked roar from the rear and (it's hard to describe in words) a mechanical-like whine from the front.