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In battle of brawn, Pontiac GTO gets nod over Ford Mustang


2005 Ford Mustang GT (red) vs. 2005 Pontiac GTO
By Paul Lienert / Special to The Detroit News​


At my rural Macomb County high school in the late '60s, the parking lot on any given day housed a collection of muscle cars with magical names -- RoadRunner, Challenger, Barracuda, Duster -- that would make a gasoline-addled baby boomer weep today.

That nostalgic craving for fantasy hardware from our collective childhood has fueled the revival of muscle-car mania in Detroit, with the 2006 Dodge Charger the latest reincarnation of a mothballed Motown marque. The latter-day Charger follows in the footsteps of two better-known nameplates that date back to the earliest days of the muscle-car era and are enjoying a renaissance among automotive enthusiasts: Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO.

The Mustang has been around in one guise or another since its birth in 1964, while the GTO only recently has been reborn after a decades-long production hiatus. In their new skin, the two cars philosophically could not be more different, although the bottom line -- affordable performance in a rear-wheel-drive, two-door package -- remains a common thread between them. But where the redesigned Mustang presents itself as an authentic re-creation of the popular '60s ponycar, the latest GTO shares little stylistically with its earlier namesakes.

We recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2005 Ford Mustang GT and a 2005 Pontiac GTO to get a better idea of their strengths and failings, and how they measure up against each other in a number of categories, from straight-line acceleration to ride, handling, comfort and amenities.

The Mustang GT we tested had a sticker of $27,650, while our test GTO was priced at $33,690.


Exterior

The idea of reinterpreting a classic design in 2005 seems almost sacrilegious, yet the "new" Mustang is an almost pitch-perfect re-embodiment of the 1967-68 Mustang. That the car looks fresh and modern while evoking powerful images of the earlier model speaks to the wisdom of Ford Motor Co. design boss J Mays' strategy and the talent of his styling team.

The '05 GTO is everything the Mustang is not -- nondescript rather than distinctive, amorphous rather than crisp and almost forgettable. The GTO, which is a mildly rewarmed version of the Holden Monaro coupe from Australia, is so bland, not even the addition of signature twin hood scoops for model year '05 has ignited much emotion in enthusiasts who fondly recall the great GTO designs of the '60s. The word inside General Motors Corp. is that the current GTO will be around for another year or less, with an all-new and more sharply defined design said to be in the pipeline for 2009.

Winner: Mustang


Interior


Ford interior designers reached into the past again for inspiration for the '05 Mustang's instrument panel, which mixes vintage graphics with chrome and matte metal to evoke the look and feel of the '67 Mustang. It's plain and simple, and it works beautifully, from an aesthetic perspective. Perforated-leather seats and door trim add to the modern ambience.

Unfortunately, Ford also cut a number of corners to keep costs down. The driver's seat, for instance, has a power fore-aft adjustment, but a manual recliner lever. We were also a bit surprised to see ugly cutouts at the base of the right-hand windshield pillar.

There is no room for real people in the rear seats of the Mustang, which effectively makes this a two-seater. Families with kids or large pets, be forewarned.


The GTO opts for comfort over style, with an uplevel cabin design.


The Mustang is plain and simple, with perforated-leather seats.

The GTO heads in the opposite direction of the Mustang, opting for comfort over style. The overall cabin design is uplevel, but generic. The exception is the gauge cluster, which features analog needles on an ugly yellow background, with digital readouts just below.

Materials and workmanship are high quality. There is considerably more room in the rear than in the Mustang, and visibility is much better. Households with more than two members will find the GTO should fit their transportation needs much better.

Stylistically, the Mustang has the edge, but in terms of comfort and roominess, the GTO gets the nod.

Winner: GTO


Drivetrain

The GTO is a slam-dunk winner over the Mustang in the powertrain department. Pontiac's performance coupe uses the Corvette's familiar LS2 pushrod engine, a massive 6.0-liter V-8 that churns out a pavement-ripping 400 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet of torque. All that muscle is transmitted to the rear wheels through a Borg-Warner Tremec six-speed manual gearbox; the combination is truly satisfying, especially out on sparsely populated country roads where you can open up the GTO and appreciate its sensational straight-line acceleration.


The GTO's massive 6.0-liter, V-8 churns out 400 horsepower.

The Mustang uses Ford's workhorse V-8, a single-overhead-cam 4.6-liter unit that makes 300 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque. It drives the rear wheels through a Tremec five-speed manual. The driveline is potent enough -- if you haven't already sampled the GTO. But it lacks the drama and presence of the LS2 and the extra top gear in the six-speed box.

Although the GTO's engine is way larger and more powerful, that extra gear helps fuel economy. The two cars are rated identically by the EPA at 17 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 on the highway.

Winner: GTO


Chassis


Purists howled to learn that the '05 Mustang would take a step backward, from an engineering point of view, and exchange its former independent rear suspension for a solid axle with coil springs. Surprisingly, the result is not bad, in terms of ride and handling. Ride comfort is decent on most surfaces, and steering response is predictable.

You don't appreciate the real benefits of IRS until you put a few miles on the GTO, which employs a multilink setup with semitrailing arms and gas-pressurized shocks in the rear. The ride quality is much smoother and more controlled, especially on rough pavement and twisty roads. Steering, while well-connected with the road, isn't as crisp as you'd expect in a sports car of this caliber, but the oversize brakes are exceptional.

Both cars ride on 17-inch wheels and Z-rated tires, and both feature four-wheel disc brakes with antilock and traction control.

Whether your interest lies in pure performance or long-haul transportation, you'll find the GTO much more pleasant to live with than the Mustang.

Winner: GTO


Amenities


Our test GTO cost $6,000 more than our test Mustang, and the difference was not just under the skin. The Pontiac was laden with standard equipment, including eight-way power front seats (with power recline), a 200-watt audio system with 10 speakers and a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with tilt/telescope column, and the usual power accessories. The only option on the GTO was the manual transmission, which supplants the standard four-speed automatic for an extra $695.

The Mustang was reasonably well-furnished, with a six-way power driver's seat, premium audio system with CD changer, tilt steering column and full power accessories. Like the GTO, it also came equipped with standard air conditioning and remote keyless entry. An interior upgrade package on our test car added $450.

Winner: GTO


Conclusions


Their muscle-car roots are remarkably similar, but the 2005 Ford Mustang GT and the 2005 Pontiac GTO hold great appeal for disparate reasons.

If you're more into style and aesthetic appeal, the Mustang is the clear winner -- and it costs considerably less than the GTO. If pure performance is the name of your game, and your ego is secure enough to drive a virtually anonymous design, the GTO simply walks away from the Mustang in nearly every measurable category -- as long as you're also willing to pay a premium for the privilege of owning one.

Overall winner: GTO


Source; Detroit News
 

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"Costs considerably more" I don't think so, maybe at liitle more but definatly worth it. And don't get me wrong I liked the article, but again what is with the plain looks crap!! I get people ALL THE TIME coming up to me saying "is that your car out there, that's nice."
 

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I didn't think you could get a Yellow gauge package on a Quicksilver exterior with a Red interior. I recall yellow gauges only on YellowJacket. Must be stock photos... Easy read , but some of the "facts" are incorrect even though I agree GTO over Mustang GT. Also with all the GT options and the Dealer Adjustments when I was in the market - the prices were the same. Actually out the door I paid less than the GT I priced : (initial 30day available GM Employee Disc). I like the concept that my GTO is unrecognizable , but then I go thru 4 speed traps twice daily. I agree with the writer that Muscle Car fever is back , just Gas is 3 bucks vs. a quarter per gallon.

‹(•¿•)›
 

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GTO vs Mustang

Certainly there are some prices you pay to drive a sports car and gas prices are one of them. I like that the GTO has a sleeker unrecognizable design. It makes it more unique I think and people then say, "Wow that's a great looking car!" Who wants to drive the same thing that everyone else has that's no fun! Rock On Pontiac with the introduction of the new GTO! Keep it coming!

Ryan
 

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Hey guys, not to take anything from the GTO (I love the idea of a 400 horse GM). Believe it or not, I too am a GM guy....I sold my 69 SS369 Chevelle to buy an 05 Mustang. Mine was $23,500 out the door and with less than $700 of upgrades, it runs [email protected] and still gets 22 mpg. Both of these cars are cool and I was even looking at a Hemi Magnum (they are way too slow). I'm not here to get your blood pressure up but, for advertising a 400hp engine, the 1/4 mile times aren't that close when you line up two factory cars.
 

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limestang05 said:
Hey guys, not to take anything from the GTO (I love the idea of a 400 horse GM). Believe it or not, I too am a GM guy....I sold my 69 SS369 Chevelle to buy an 05 Mustang. Mine was $23,500 out the door and with less than $700 of upgrades, it runs [email protected] and still gets 22 mpg. Both of these cars are cool and I was even looking at a Hemi Magnum (they are way too slow). I'm not here to get your blood pressure up but, for advertising a 400hp engine, the 1/4 mile times aren't that close when you line up two factory cars.
What mods got you into the 12's?
 

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Hmm 700 sounds like just a shot of Nitrous. If you go the traditional route to get into 12.7 territory you would have to have about 350 HP (so 50hp over stock) and some tires. So DRs at $200 or so, CAI for $150, exhaust for $600 or so, pullys at $150, MAF and TB at $400-$500 should get you right about 350-370hp with the new stang. That MIGHT be enough for the 12.7 run with an awesome 60ft on a very cool day at sea level or below.

That is my guess. Otherwise it sounds like Nitrous.


BTW I just don't like the stang like I do my GTO. I have nothing against the new fords they just aren't my thing. I love the interior and huge back seats in the GTO. Plus having a larger 400hp motor and a 6speed is a deal maker. Also the styling of the GTO means that it is a sleeper. I don't like flashy cars, I want mine to be a very nice looking car without advertising is HP. The GT advertises its HP but it also lacks what it advertises.
 

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No Nitrous YET! They do have a new Zex kit that put an 05 in the high elevens(Adjustable to 175hp, but nobody makes a colder plug for the 4.6 three valve motor yet so that limits you to 75-100hp.$588). I bought an Xcalibrator2/ C&L CAI combo from Brenspeed.com. With the addition of underdrive pulleys and sticky tires, you get a combo that gets you in the twelves. 1.7's 60ft with the factory 3.55 gears. You have to reallize that I'mkinda new to the whole "lap top=fast car" idea. I've been running BDS blown big inch Big Block Chevy's for about 20 years. I really dont even like Fords, but I love racing a 281 c.i. car that runs like this and has an air-conditioner. If you are in the Oklahoma area, we run 1/4 mile at Thunder Valley Raceway in Noble, Ok. and there are a couple of 1/8 mile tracks down here in southwestern Ok.

Are there many aftermarket upgrades for the GTO?
 

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limestang05 said:
No Nitrous YET! They do have a new Zex kit that put an 05 in the high elevens(Adjustable to 175hp, but nobody makes a colder plug for the 4.6 three valve motor yet so that limits you to 75-100hp.$588). I bought an Xcalibrator2/ C&L CAI combo from Brenspeed.com. With the addition of underdrive pulleys and sticky tires, you get a combo that gets you in the twelves. 1.7's 60ft with the factory 3.55 gears. You have to reallize that I'mkinda new to the whole "lap top=fast car" idea. I've been running BDS blown big inch Big Block Chevy's for about 20 years. I really dont even like Fords, but I love racing a 281 c.i. car that runs like this and has an air-conditioner. If you are in the Oklahoma area, we run 1/4 mile at Thunder Valley Raceway in Noble, Ok. and there are a couple of 1/8 mile tracks down here in southwestern Ok.

Are there many aftermarket upgrades for the GTO?
Uhhhhhhh. Yes. For the 2004 with the LS1 there are more than you can count. For the LS2 model there are few, but with more coming to market all the time.
 

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limestang05 said:
Hey guys, not to take anything from the GTO (I love the idea of a 400 horse GM). Believe it or not, I too am a GM guy....I sold my 69 SS369 Chevelle to buy an 05 Mustang. Mine was $23,500 out the door and with less than $700 of upgrades, it runs [email protected] and still gets 22 mpg. Both of these cars are cool and I was even looking at a Hemi Magnum (they are way too slow). I'm not here to get your blood pressure up but, for advertising a 400hp engine, the 1/4 mile times aren't that close when you line up two factory cars.
nice color!!!my wife love that color
 

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06 Mustang GT loaded employee price $25325 vs $29786 for a 05 GTO.Yes the GTO is a SLEEPER and yes people confuse it with other GM stuff.But the REAL goat fan could care less.There would be many more GOAT fans however if GM would remove the SLEEPER factor. Lets face it the 65 GTO back in it's hay day was a real LOOKER ,kind of like the 65 GT 350 was.Look @ the value of those cars today , WOW!!! Come on GM lets get some great looking cars back before it's to LATE.

There's 25 GTO's on the Atlanta lot's since june ,and they are not selling.It's just like the 04 all over again.
 
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