Sunday, January 09, 2005

How to ruin your blog in six easy posts

OK, so Lauren found the last set of pictures on building a trade-show booth incredibly boring. Now I am not even sure I want to post the pictures I have of the actual product we had on display, not to mention the sweet plasma/Xbox live setup we had to showcase the fact that the foneGEAR CORD FREE headset is compatible with network gaming applications.

In order to right the wrong, I want to talk more about that '05 Mustang I was driving around Las Vegas last week. Having rented coupe and convertible versions of the outgoing body style ('04 coupe, '03 convertible), I feel minimally qualified to evaluate the postives, and yes, shortcomings of the new model.

First, I am in agreement with most of the automotive journalism I have read so far that the new design is wonderful. There is a lot of talk about the looks of this car being retro, or even dated, but the reality is that the proportions are right on, and the fact that the design is forty years old just means that it was right the first time. Nothing else in traffic looks like it, and when kept at an appropriate speed on the move (say, 15% faster than everyone else) it really looks purposeful. On the Strip, people were definitely checking out the car frequently, no small feat considering that Las Vegas Boulevard has a greater than normal amount of eye-candy. One complaint: to my eye the B pillar is too fat. The convertible fixes with problem though, when the top is up, by not having a B pillar.

The build quality of the new model seems pretty high, without the cheap feeling I got from the last model's interior trim, seats, and gauges. Switches, levers and knobs were all pretty good, all though the radio buttons and dials felt flimsy to me. This base model Mustang was overall a lot of fun to drive even without the GT's optional V8, with the standard V6 veing pretty powerful and nicely loud and the standard automatic being a drag but not a deal-breaker. The rear-wheel drive handling was very balanced and I never felt the back of the car break loose on the dry pavement in Vegas.

Overall the car was comfortable, but a couple of issues would prevent me from buying one. The very cool looking three-spoke steering wheel tilts but does not telescope, and this was where I found my main irritation. I admit that I have purchased a couple of suits at Napolean's Closet in Birmingham (gone, but not forgotten), where shoppers taller than 5'8" could not be helped. But, if you needed a Burberry suit in a 35 extra-short (and that would be petite even for me), this was your place. Bottom line? I felt way too close to the wheel of the Mustang. I absolutely hate having to reach far behind me to grab the seatbelt, and in our Audi I don't have to, because it is within anyone's reach. In the Mustang, I had to awkwardly grab for it every time. I hate having to tilt to the side to get out of the car, and it is never difficult to get out of my Acura coupe. Yet to get out of the Mustang, I had to either slide the seat back (usually I would as a courtesy to the valet) or else twist my whole body far left to clear the door, a super-stupid move.

If Ford had decided to design this car for everone, anyone would feel comfortable driving this car after a few minor adjustments. Lauren's mother's Suburban has power-adjustable pedals, and they work. Adjustable pedals and a telescoping steering wheel should be standard on this car. The average adult male height in the United States is 5'9"* and the average adult female height is 5'4"**- about my height. By my rough estimate, that makes considerably more than half of the adult population in the United States too short to fully (and safely - airbags hurt. I have had one go off on my chest) enjoy this car. Too bad, because it is really great looking. I bet a lot of other people will have the same experience. Maybe I'll fit in one of those new 400 HP Pontiac GTOs....


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