Headtohead

FORD MUSTANG GT FASTBACK

WORDS JAMES WHITBOURN

A FAST íNí FURIOUS FACE-OFF

FORD MUSTANG GT FASTBACK

The premise: Pony car meets modern V8 Aussie ute, which is considered by most to be a (critically endagered) two-door muscle machine. The Mustang GT is officially $55K and gets auto HID headlights, DRLs and LED tail-lights, rain-sensing wipers, tyre-pressure monitors, a reversing camera, dualzone climate control, and heated/cooled front seats. 14/20 A 5.0-litre quad-cam V8 beats at the heart of this Blue Oval coupe. With 306kW pushing an identical kerb weight, outright accelerative ability falls in the Fordís favour but 530Nm at a high-ish 4250rpm means you have to work its six-speed manual. The tank holds just under 61 litres, taking you 465km at the official 13.1L/100km fuel figure. 15/20 Mustangs used to be image machines; now theyíre decent to drive away from the strip, too. A strut front suspension and an integral-link independent rear end provide fine fundamentals for handling balance, though youíre always aware of the big coupeís weight. Electric power steering is not rich in feel, though it improves with load. 15/20 The Mustang strikes a mean kerb presence, being a fraction wider, much shorter and precisely 100mm lower than its rival. Butch design and US quality pervades inside yet low, six-way-powered front seats make it easy to get comfy. Plus-two back seats with Isofix mounts set the íStang apart in term of usefulness. Its boot hauls 383 litres. 15/20 Despite wearing 19s on 40-series tyres Ė with broad 275s at the rear Ė the Mustang manages a well-damped ride that improves with speed. The suppression of noise, vibration and harshness is good, if not quite as well executed as in its rival, leaving a trace of wind rustle Ö not that youíll notice when the taps are wide open. 15/20

74/100

HOLDEN COMMODORE SS-V REDLINE UTE

Commoí ute is no workhorse in circa-$50K SS-V Redline spec. As well as FE3 suspension, big brakes and 19s, the V8 trayback gets equipment to level with its rival, and plenty of advanced safety, including forward-collision alert, blindspot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and reversetraffic alert. Misses Fordís dual knee airbags. 16/20 A bigger 6.2-litre pushrod V8 with bi-modal exhaust and mechanical sound enhancer gives the Lion a deeper, more substantial aural presence. Almost line-ball for power but with 40Nm extra delivered at similar revs, GMís loping V8 delivers more of its substantial torque down low. Slurps from a 71-litre tank at a rate of 12.6L/100km. 17/20 The SS-V Redline Ute is poised on similar suspension to the sedan and wagon, meaning more sophistication than just about any other load lugger. Cue front struts and multi-link IRS with a limited-slip diff, just like the Ford. The Redline shrinks around its driver, and offers terrific handling cohesion with meaty, connected steering feel. 17/20 Itís more polished and modern in the Holden, which could be a sedan but for the fact thereís a bulkhead rather than a back seat behind you. Generous tray brings enviable lugging ability, though might mean youíre roped into helping mates move. Leather seats, colour head-up display and internet radio crown a surprisingly classy cabin. 15/20 The Commodore has carried its expertly engineered and calibrated ride/handling compromise from VE to VF and VFII.

In fact, better than that, itís improved with age. The Holden, as a home-grown hauler, has the edge at high speeds on bumpy coarse chip and practically everywhere else, even with the Redline Ute wearing 275/35R19s at the rear. 16/20

81/100

POINTS SCORE

V PRICE & EQUIPMENT

20 POINTS

INTERIOR & VERSATILITY

20 POINTS

PERFORMANCE & ECONOMY

20 POINTS

RIDE & REFINEMENT

20 POINTS

STEERING & HANDLING

20 POINTS

VERDICT

The Michigan Mustang and home-grown Holden are surprisingly similar machines. Peak power figures are within a gnatís appendage (2kW), kerb weights are officially 1739kg and they roll on almost identical wheel and tyre sizes. Then there are the differences, such as the fact the Mustang comes wrapped in an eye-grabbing exterior, while the Commodore ute is as familiar as an old mate; the most obvious departure is that the Ford offers cramped rear quarters, and the Holden has two seats and a tray.

Your priorities might dictate the pick, but the Commodore wins in pure two-door muscle terms, because itís better to drive, both day-to-day and on back roads, with a tougher soundtrack. The Holdenís nicer cabin and more robust value equation are the icing.