AUTOMATIC V8 TEST DRIVE, MORE FINANCE NEWS

Previously I stated I drove a V8 manual and a V6 automatic. Hard to find a V8 automatic.

A few days back I went to Salem, NH to drive a V8 automatic Mustang. I took it out about 20 minutes and found out what I wanted to find out.

Reviewers who compare the automatic to the manual transmission are pretty much right. Compared to a manual clutch, the grab after changing gears is somewhat “muted” as they put it, but it’s so small as to not make any difference to me, especially at 420 hp.

As far as the speed for changing gears, it’s at least as fast as a manual if you’re pushing hard, in many instances a bit faster, probably always faster. The only YouTube vid I saw where a guy could do really fast manual shifts the way I want to do it, without notches, was the result of a modification they call “faceplating”, which is a modification more suitable to racing and not especially practical for daily driving. I know I’m not modifying any manual transmission.

If I didn’t care about the warranty, I could reprogram the chip for not only better throttle response, but also faster and harder automatic shift response. There’s no way the manual could compete with that.

As far as regular and sport mode selection in the auto, Ford did a good job programming that, no complaints.

This year’s automatic has a button on the knob for manual selection while in Sport mode. It engages the first time you use it. To go back to regular Sport mode auto shifting, I guess you put it in Normal then back to Sport. That worked for me.

What reviewers said about the button is true, you have to anticipate its slowness. I’d say depending on whether or not you’re upshifting or downshifting, and your speed and torque, the lag ranges from 0.8 to 1.8 seconds. Maybe most of the time about a second. During the times you want it to shift fast, figure on 0.9 to 1.1 seconds. That’s my gut feeling, had no opportunity to time that for real.

As I told the salesman, if the manual had no notches like my Olds 442, I would enjoy shifting the manual. A reviewer asked, “Why would you get a car like this and not the manual?” Well, reviewers are used to driving mostly cars that have notches. The enjoyment for me is completing a really fast, solid shift. If I can’t do that, no fun at all. I want to feel like I can shift better than the next guy. With this manual, everybody will be mostly shifting as fast as anybody else.

I noticed in a few vids people doing a technique to give them a bit faster manual shift, but I’d be scared to try it as it looked to me like eventually it would mess up some parts. What they’d do is start pushing on the shifter about a quarter of the distance to the notch before actually doing the shift. They’d start pushing about 1.5 seconds before doing the shift. That has to be putting pressure on something. Yeah, that would be great having the dealership tell me I was shifting it like a clown after taking it in for repairs, thus a voided warranty.

Ford wisely didn’t spend money on paddle shifters and dual clutch setups, which would add a lot of cost to the car. That would make the automatic shift like a supercar, but even the cheapest car with a paddle shift dual clutch usually is at least twice the cost of a Mustang. Makes more sense to just reprogram the chip, would make it just as fast, even if it would be more of a jerk to the seat of your pants.

Conclusion:
I’m totally satisfied with deciding on the automatic over the manual.

Previously I stated what it would cost to trade the Buick or not. My new number for keeping it is $98 a month.

If I didn’t say this previously, I’ve also established that I can get $4000-4200 off MSRP for the Mustang locally, somewhat less from other dealers. Therefore the “sting” for keeping the Buick works out to $41 a month. I still have to decide how the eventual payments impact my lifestyle, and that might still force me to trade the Buick. Won’t think about it again until I’m ready to do a deposit and order.
If I order a month sooner than planned, it comes out to $13 a month extra. Doesn’t sound like much, but all this adds up. Still shooting for the first few weeks of June for the deposit, first few weeks of August for delivery, more likely beginning of September. Don’t want to take delivery in November! I’ll at least wait until I get my next credit report around the beginning of April to see what direction it’s trending. I hope it’s up a little.