What a perfect day for a drive. Ford invited me and my brother-in-law, Matthew, down to Toronto Motorsports Park on Wednesday to help celebrate Father’s Day, and as part of the fun they arranged track time for us behind the wheel of the 2017 Ford Mustang GT Premium Fastback and the Ford Focus RS.
It was warm and clear in Cayuga, the cars were a blast to drive on the 3 kilometre course, and we had the added benefit of a professional driver to teach us a few things, and probably to make sure we didn’t do anything too wild. The best part though is when that driver tells you to put your foot down on the gas pedal to accelerate through a straightaway before hitting the break hard to take a 90 degree turn.
Even with the set course, driving on a track is very liberating, especially in performance cars like these. On the straightaways, you could push the cars up to 160 km/h, which feels even faster when you have to hit the breaks to slow down for the next corner.
The idea behind the Ford Father’s Day was to enjoy a day with your father, or father figure, on the race track. Since my father is all the way out in New Brunswick though, and my bother-in-law is a big fan of cars, this seemed like a fun opportunity for us to geek out together over the two cars.
On arrival, we posed beside the Mustang GT before we started off on a slow lap in the Focus RS so the professional driver could explain the best driving strategy, and give us a feel for the car and the track. The most important advice that he offered was to look where you are aiming the car, which actually helps you hit your exit from the turns more easily, and to really press the brake when you are slowing down for a corner. As he said, most people use very little force when breaking, but when you’re decelerating from 160 km/h, you need to actually press with a lot of force to brake in time.
Matt drove the Focus RS, and he was a big fan because the car is so powerful for its size, and because of the car’s braking and control. The RS was also outfitted with high-end tires, so it really clung to the circuit, even when you took the corners tight and fast. That performance is more than just the tires at work though. The RS features all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring that helps keep the vehicle incredibly stable, with exceptional cornering, control, and traction.
The Focus RS engine also features a 2.3L turbocharged Ecoboost engine, with 360 horsepower, which really kicks the car into motion in a hurry. That powerful engine also makes the hot laps especially fun, because the car just seems to jet across the track, cornering quickly before jetting away again on the next straightaway.
Last fall, I had driven in the Focus RS with Ben “The Stig” Collins for a hot lap and some drifting at Ford’s head office track, but one lap goes pretty fast. We had a lot more time to see what the Focus RS was capable of at the track in Cayuga.
And then there’s the 2017 Ford Mustang GT. Driving the Mustang is a highlight of my year. It’s just a really powerful, fun drive. This car is everything you could want in a sports car. The colour is so vibrant that it changes with the angle of the light, and sitting in the driver’s seat, even with a big clunky driving helmet on, felt so right. It was a perfect Father’s Day gift for someone like me who loves driving.
The Mustang GT was fast, sleek, and most of all, comfortable.
The car handled the corners beautifully, and went from 160 km/h, down to about 60 km/h for the corners, and back up to 160 km/h in no time thanks to that incredible 5.0L 4V ti-VCT V8 engine, which kicks out 435 horsepower. Since I’ve never learned how to drive manual, the automatic transmission is also a breeze to drive, but you can use the paddle shifters to take control of the gear selection if you want to really push the car.
Finishing my third lap in the Mustang GT, it was definitely hard to get up out of the driver’s seat. I love to drive, so it’s a lot of fun trying out new cars, and this is now my favorite, in terms of cars I’ve driven to date. The seats are luxurious and comfortable, it has multiple driving modes for a range of conditions, and for off-the-track driving, it’s packed with safety features like the Blind Spot Information System.
Thanks to Ford for the fun driving experience, and the Father’s Day treat. Matt and I really enjoyed the cars and not just the chance to drive them, but the opportunity to learn a bit about driving technique. Maybe for my next Father’s Day I need to learn how to drive manual.