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July 4, 2009 - Autos

Robert Eckaus
The Proper Comparison of Pony Cars

Only AutoWeek (AW) did the proper comparison of the current Pony Cars. The testers don't drive very well, but they trumped Motor Trend and Car & Driver. The June 15th issue of AW featured a comparison test of the new Chevrolet Camaro SS, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and Dodge Challenger SRT-8.

Why is this test better than rest? It isn't because of the performance results, it's because they compared the top-of-the-line models from each manufacturer. Car & Driver didn't do it right in the July 2009 issue. And neither did Motor Trend in their June 2009 issue.

Before I get into the problem with the performance numbers, what is overlooked is market segment vs. pricing. When shopping for over $30K domestic performance coupes, the enthusiast is going to shop capability first, price second. These magazines are bringing existing models to a test with the new Camaro SS. Since the SS is the top performer in the Camaro model line-up, don't bring the Challenger R/T, bring the SRT-8. Doesn't it make sense to see how a 426hp Chevy does against a 425hp Dodge? The Mustang GT, at 315hp, doesn't belong either. Bring the 540hp GT500. So what if the GT500 is nearly $51k. The Camaro is $37k and the Dodge nearly $44k.

Yes, the Camaro is a bargain, but a used GT500 is in the same range. And the Challenger SRT-8 new or used, is close enough as well. So again, AW did the right thing by comparing a the top models to each other.

What about the driving? Well in the simplest terms, when the 425hp Dodge is clocked from 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds, that is garbage. Literally. Especially when other sources are clocking the 376hp R/T version in 5.1 seconds. If the car is faulty, get another from the press pool or at least tell us the quarter-mile results. All of models tested in AW are capable of mid/high 4-second blasts. And that is only part of the story.

The 0-60mph test is valid but there is much more to straight line performance. The Mustang GT has it's lunch handed to it by the others in the quarter mile and in the triple digits. Take a look at the Car & Driver story. The 0-140mph times are 22.3 seconds, 27.7 seconds and the GT might as well give up at 34.2 seconds. These are enormous gaps at triple digit speeds. Who drives that fast and where you ask? Well considering the 60-130mph measurement is becoming the new standard, if you're still asking, you're not in the market for a 400hp car, are you?

The bottom line is when the top model warrants a comparison, bring in the heavy hitters, not the price leaders. Once you have that resolved, drive 'em to their ability just like your competition and the owners themselves.

More at cartruthblog.blogspot.com

Keywords: Ford, Mustang, Shelby, GT500, GT, Chevy, Chevrolet, Camaro, SS, Dodge, Challenger, SRT8, R/T
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