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Well, I was out of town for the weekend to the Pacific NorthWest and we had an opportunity to rent a Mustang V6 for the weekend, so of course I took it over the Nissan Sentra that was the other option. I've always wanted to get behind the wheel of one of those to finally feel the differences between our cars. It was an ATX of course, but so is mine, so I could really compare the two.

The first thing that I noticed is it has a tendency to "hop" with that live axle that they have. Our quadralink independent rear really makes a difference. It felt like I was driving a much bigger car than it really was. The car didn't handle variations in the road all that well. It kind of "bumped" along, transmitting little information about the road.

Secondly was how "American" it felt. I guess being bred in Europe, our cars benefited greatly from it. Even the way the interior of the car was put together, just screamed "cheap American interior!" Just seemed kind of clunky compared to our slick interior. It was an ergonomic nightmare. Badly positioned controls. Almost everything was a fair reach away for me, being 6'2 and sitting with the seat pushed all the way back. To get somebody in the back seat, you had to lift a little lever at the back of the seat on the bottom, push the seatback forward and then reach around the front to the lever under the front of the seat and heft the whole thing forward. Really seemed like a pain after being used to our top handled "tilt and slide".

The rear wheel drive was a little different than I was used to. You had to pay much more attention to where the car was pointed since the transmission wasn't pulling against it effectively trying to point the wheels straight. The steering was also much less precise than ours, so you REALLY had to pay attention sometimes or the car would easily track away from your intended course. It had a real dead spot on center where you received no feedback from the road, with a very floaty feel. Once you got used to it though, you could easily drive with just a couple of fingers through a gently curvy road. I like a more firm feel than that.

The transmission was a little wishy washy also. The engine seemed to have a bit more low end grunt, but the tranny would not let you really get it out of it. It was reluctant to easily drop down a gear and scoot along like ours does. You had to really give it some gas to get it going. Passing was a joke. It would drop down to 3rd, and just kind of ooze past the cars. It did well on the hills without a lot of hunting for gears, but seemed to be geared a bit to low in fourth for the freeway. Cruising at 65-75 and hovering around 2200-2300 RPM's.

I had the car for 2 full days and drove over 350 miles so I had a good amount of time to get a feel for the car and get used to it. The miles were city and highway both. I wouldn't say I actively disliked the car, it just doesn't have that refined feel that our cars do that I've gotten so used to. I did like one thing in particular that I've always thought should be a part of over car. When you have the wipers on "intermittent" and the rain picks up a bit so you want to make them cycle a little faster, you slide the selector up a bit and the wipers immediately clear the windshield and then start the new timing. I loved that. But that was the only thing that I loved about it.

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good full fledged comparo, i agree with all of your statements, my brother has a v6 mustang and i know the feeling. the rear wheel drive has it's advantages and disadvantages. the grunt comes from the OHV design of the engine as opposed to the OHC of the cougar which provides the power at the top end.
 

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that is so true what you said about the intermittent wipers on our cougars..the fastest setting takes too long to cycle between wipes :)
 

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True...I'll complaign about another of Ford's ergonomic nightmares...the position of the emergency brake in the focus. Its almost impossible to get to w/ or w/out the armrest down. It just sucked! On the other hand, I didn't mind the 00 GT I drove today...I felt it was pretty well put together.
 
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