Fine Lifestyles Regina Review: 2012 Mustang GT/CS
By Ryan Holota. Photos by Shawn Fulton
ne hundred kilometres per hour
comes up in about 4.6 seconds.
The traction control system is almost perfect, allowing just a bit of
wheel spin—enough to make you feel cool,
while still planting the power to the ground
and getting you moving. If you had the
space, a quarter mile would go past in about
13 seconds, and you’d be travelling 110 miles
That’s the thing about driving a car like
this—you will never find its limits in Saskatchewan. Legalities aside, the roads are
not smooth enough to explore the high end
of its speedometer (which Ford has electronically limited to 155mph). There aren’t
enough corners. Boy racer dreams aside, it
takes a lot of confidence to go into a hard
corner at 100mph and aggressively come
out under power. This car is so good that
you would need to be doing something
egregiously stupid to get into trouble with it
on a public road.
Ford of Canada was kind enough to let Fine
Lifestyles drive a 2012 Mustang convertible
for a few days last fall. Not just any convertible, this was a GT/CS (GT/California Special), a trim package add-on that harkens
back to the original GT/CS built for California Ford dealerships in 1968. Equipped with
Ford’s hot new 5.0 engine and a 6-speed
manual transmission, we would have been
stupid to say no.
The new 5.0 is amazing. Dubbed the ‘Coyote’ engine within Ford, it is loosely based on
the ‘Modular Engine’ architecture that Ford
has been using for a while (the 4.6, 5.4, 6.8
are Modular Engines), but with a number of
very important changes. An all-aluminum
block and new crankshaft and bore diame-
ter have increased the displacement to 302
cubic inches, allowing Ford to bring the 5.0
moniker back from the dead.
The engine is topped with all new DOHC
4V heads that provide incredible flow, and
feature Ti-VCT technology. Ti-VCT (Twin
Independent Variable Cam Timing) allows
the computer to advance and retard each
pair of the 4 camshafts in the engine independently of the other in order to optimize
power, fuel efficiency, and emissions. Make
no mistake, this engine is as high-tech and
advanced as they come. Producing 412
horsepower on pump gas, this is the stuff
that performance guys dream about.
Backing up the power is a Getrag MT-82
6-speed manual transmission. There are
stories of this transmission being problematic for some people, but the transmission
in the car we drove was excellent. A little
vague when shifting into gear perhaps, but
we never missed a gear the entire time we
drove the car. It shifted smoothly, and the
extra-deep overdrive in 6th gear was appreciated on highway stints.
It’s not until you sit down inside the 2012
Mustang that it hits you: this car is big. The
passenger side door is waaaay over there,
and you sit very low inside the car. The
dash and the interior panels surround you.
Thankfully, they are all beautiful to look at.
The gages are large and easy to read, and
well-lit at night. The shifter and radio are
both within easy reach, though Ford has
failed yet again to deliver a cup holder capable of holding a Slurpee in the Mustang—
a can of pop fits just fine, but anything taller
is right in the way of being able to grab the
The seats are very supportive, holding you
tight even in hard turns, and comforting over
rough roads. The extra size makes for a lot
of extra room inside too. The rear seats are
usable, if tight for adults. Two car seats fit
with no trouble, and with the convertible top
putting the kids in them is easy.
Of course, the Mustang was also equipped
with Ford’s Sync, a voice activated control
centre for music, mobile phones, and more.
It’s no longer enough just to be fast. Today’s
automobile buyers demand horsepower,
fuel efficiency, and reliability. Today there
are minivans that have 270hp. A performance car can’t just be quick, they have to
be FAST. And quiet. And spacious.
From a strictly performance standpoint, the
new Mustang is a hit. The new Camaro can’t
quite keep up with it, and the new Challenger will be left in the dust. With a sticker price
of $48,000 as tested, the Mustang puts you
squarely in Porsche 911 territory, and probably in first place between the two, for less
than half the price.
But the 2012 Mustang is much more than
just a solid performer. It is truly of a new
breed of automobile, one that can be driven
fast, used to commute daily, and still keep
the driver and passengers comfortable and
safe. It’s one of the best cars that I have
driven in years.
the showroom floor. While my Mustang
has had a fair share of modifications and
improvements over the years, it still does
not come close to matching the new car for
Looking Back 25 Years
My Mustang experience dates back to
January of 1994, in my senior year of high
school. That’s when I bought my first car,
one that I still have today. Over the years it
has served a wide variety of needs: date car,
commuter car, pickup truck, and finally, hot
rod. It’s a Mustang. A 1987 LX Hatchback,
My Mustang shines an interesting perspective on the 2012 Mustang that I drove for
Fine Lifestyles. For one, it is also has a 5.0
engine, though there is nothing in common
with the 5.0 engine in the 2012 Mustang
besides the name. The 5.0 in my 1987 is a
cast-iron pushrod engine based on the Ford
289, and the 260 and 221 before that. It can
trace its history back as far as 1962. The
new 5.0 is a completely different animal. All
aluminum, and with dual overhead cams, it
represents the pinnacle of drivetrain engineering at Ford.
My 5.0 had a factory rated horsepower
level of 225; the new 5.0 has 412 right off
On the other hand, the new Mustang appears to have been dipping into the Halloween candy; it tips the scales at almost 1,000
pounds more than the 1987 version. Much
of it is safety and convenience related—
airbags, added structure, and the convertible top mechanisms. Let’s not forget that
the car is big, really big actually. Weight is
a great equalizer in the horsepower game.
The 1,000 pound difference is equivalent to
about 100 horsepower.
That weight does have some advantages
though, especially in traction. With the
limited modifications to my car, traction is
essentially non-existent. Full throttle in first
or second gear results in tire spin. Apply
throttle too early in a turn and the back end
swings wide, and it doesn’t auto-correct,
you need to drive it straight. In contrast,
driving the 2012 Mustang is easy. It simply
hooks and goes. The traction control allows
just enough wheelspin for you to feel dangerous, but without wasting tires. Even with
the traction control turned off, the car simply goes where you point it.
The added structure also makes the new
Mustang much quieter to drive. My car,
which features several welded on structural
enhancements, still shakes and rattles over
bumps and train tracks. The new car is almost eerily quiet – more like a minivan than
a muscle car. That’s not necessarily a bad
thing, however. My car, which has a DOT
approved exhaust that is well-within legal
noise levels, can get grating on long trips.
Conversation is best replaced by a loud stereo. In contrast, the new Mustang is silent
at idle, but really roars once you step on the
loud pedal. Maybe too quiet for a 19-yearold, but very nice for this 35-year-old with
Finally, the clutch pedal is simply amazing.
My ‘87 features one of the most popular
high-performance clutches on the market.
It’s heavy. Being caught in stop and go traffic
for a while makes your leg ache. My clutch
is perfect for the 300hp range, and at about
450hp even it becomes too weak to use reliably. But the clutch in the new Mustang is
MEANT to handle more than 400hp, and
the pedal is soft and smooth. It is able to do
this because it is hydraulically enhanced—
which is fine with me and my left leg.
I’ve had my Mustang for almost 18 years—
more than half of my life. I don’t plan on
ever getting rid of it, and I certainly wouldn’t
replace it with a new Mustang. However, it
would sure look good sharing garage space
with a 2012. I’m not sure which one I’d drive