The Camaro, meanwhile – in what must be a first for this sort of machine – feels like a premium car from within. The material quality is much better and the design is clean and simple. There are elegant flourishes too, like the low-set central air vents that double up as heater controls. Overall, it’s a more pleasant environment, although it should be acknowledged that the Mustang’s steering wheel does reach out a lot further, giving a more natural seating position.
As far as the steering itself goes, though, it’s the Camaro’s that feels better. It does initially, anyway. Whereas the Mustang’s helm is quite vague and imprecise at first, the Camaro’s is tight, quick and very direct, making the car seem lighter and smaller. But when you start to really lean on the Chevy’s front axle in corners, you realise that the heightened rate of the rack is a bit of an artifice because, although the front end does keep up with it, the rest of the chassis doesn’t. What you feel from behind the wheel is the front axle darting hurriedly into a bend, then the car tripping over itself as it struggles to haul its 1659kg mass into the corner. That makes the Camaro feel just a touch clumsy.
Ford’s engineers, by comparison, seem to have been bold enough to allow the Mustang to behave like a muscle car. They haven’t tried to make it feel more athletic than it really is. So although its steering is quite loose to begin with, it is actually better matched to the rest of the chassis. Once the two cars are loaded up mid-corner, it’s the Ford that’s the easier car to read too, the one that gives you a clearer idea of what’s going on down below. You feel just a little more empowered to drive the Mustang right up to the limit of grip.
Both cars may well be more modern now with their multi-link rear suspension arrangements, but both still feel completely different to any European four-seat coupé, both still with a definite American flavour. They take up a lot of road and, rather than being darty and lithe, they’re both somewhat relaxed and sedate. They move to the rhythm of air raid sirens. You don’t try to really hustle them along a road, then, but instead stroke them along at good speed, pouring them smoothly into bends.
The Mustang is a global car but still most at home on the kind of wide, endlessly long and arrow-straight roads that demand a long-legged gait and fluid, rangy suspension.
The kind of road, frankly, that we don’t have a great deal of here in the UK. Our back roads tend to be tight and twisty with three-dimensional surfaces. Aside from feeling quite sizeable, then, both cars also feel very busy, rising and falling markedly with the road surface and bouncing a little on their springs, getting heavy in compressions and very light over crests. Of the two, though, it’s the Camaro – at least with this test car’s optional magnetic dampers – that has the tauter body control.