Downside: At a curb weight -- factory weight without passengers or cargo -- of 3,450 pounds, the tested Mustang GT Premium coupe is a tad heavy. You tend to feel that weight in slow-moving traffic through urban areas, where the new Mustang feels less than nimble. But on the open highway, the weight seems to disappear, and the car runs with a wonderful lightness of being.
Ride, acceleration and handling: There is excellent ride and handling on smooth roads. But that traditional rear axle makes its presence felt on rough roads, where the ride can turn into a bump-and-grind affair. Overall acceleration is excellent.
Head-turning quotient: I could have sold tickets. Lots of raves.
Body style/layout: The tested 2005 Ford Mustang GT Premium is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive hardtop coupe with a traditional notchback trunk lid. A convertible version is coming soon. There are four trim levels -- the Mustang V-6 Deluxe, V-6 Premium, GT Deluxe and GT Premium. The GT models have eight-cylinder engines. "Premium" refers to extra appointments, such as the Shaker 500 or Shaker 1000 sound system and leather seats.
Engines/transmissions: There are two engines -- a base 4-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque; and the GT's 4.6-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower and 320 foot-pounds of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. A five-speed automatic is optional. Ford eventually will introduce more fuel-efficient six-speed transmissions to these and other models.
Cargo and fuel capacities: The new Mustang coupe has seating for four people. Luggage capacity is 13 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 16 gallons of recommended regular unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: A bit disappointing. I averaged 23 miles per gallon in the Mustang GT Premium equipped with the optional automatic transmission.
Safety: Side air bags available as optional equipment. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard. Traction control and anti-lock brakes are standard on GT models, optional on V-6 models.
Price: Base price on the tested Mustang GT Premium is $25,705. Dealer invoice price on base model is $23,489. Price as tested is $29,695, including $3,365 in options (the optional Shaker 1000 sound system is $1,295!) and a $625 destination charge. Dealer's price with options and transportation fee is $27,110. Prices are from Ford, Edmunds.com and Cars.com, an affiliate of The Washington Post. Prices will vary.
Purse-strings note: A Mustang is a Mustang, and there is no real substitute. If you want to save money and fuel, buy the V-6 Deluxe version.