Thursday 5th July 2012


Monkey heads to New York to referee the ultimate US automotive grudge match

Life has been specially adapted for the purposes of surviving on the large concrete spit which goes by the name of Manhattan - especially the handover of media test vehicles.

You can't just have a car delivered in New York because parking is at such a premium, so cars are deposited in various underground garages throughout the city, and you are given the VIN to prove your authenticity. Today, the car in question is a 580hp Camaro ZL1: the second most frustrating machine to use in a town where the motor car is mostly pointless. It is saved the embarrassment of being labeled the most frustrating by the car it pulls alongside - the new 670hp Mustang GT500.

Why drive them in New York? Honestly, I had stuff to do there, and I just wanted to see them in that environment. It didn't disappoint, because they looked so good and garnered the best possible reactions. Even from the local constabulary.

This is the ultimate US grudge match - it's 911 v Ferrari but with 10 times the animosity. Somehow in the post-Lehman apocalypse of nationalised car companies, we have arrived at a power struggle beyond anything seen in the 60s. This one involves large quantities of supercharging, and the results are eye-popping.

I drove these cars with no prejudice, and found myself baffled by the Chevy-haters' lack of respect for the Camaro: it looks plain brilliant, the cabin is, to my eyes, better than the 'Stang's and it feels dynamically finished in a way the GT500 doesn't. But the Ford brings out the inner seventeen-year old in all of us: the one that used to skim through all the guffy adjectives about steering and handling, head straight for the performance data section and lust after the one with the most power and the best acceleration figures.

European car lovers are the great losers here. Ironically, the closest competitor to the GT500 on paper is the Ferrari 599 GTO: it's a little lighter, but just down on power, and Ferrari could charge you more for a special paint finish than a complete Mustang. We just don't have anything like these cars over here: they are a long way from perfect, but they make a virtue of their imperfections by constantly forcing the driver to measure them against list price.

Would the Ford be better without a live axle? Of course it would. Does it matter? I'm not so sure. And if anyone says an M3 would be faster around the 'ring, kick them in the groin.

Enjoy the vid.

Author: Chris Harris
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