GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1998-1999 Ford Mustang Cobra SVT
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green_mustangsvt.jpg

SPEX

Year: 1998-1999

Class: Pony Car / Muscle Car

Type: Coupe

Country: United States `````````````````````````````` Host: GT2

‹Figures below are for the '98 car.›


Price: $28,490

Body Construction: unit steel
Length: 182.5" // Width: 71.8" // Height: 53.2"
Wheelbase: 101.3"
Overhang: @6' 7"
Track: 60.5" [F] 59.2" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.29"
Weight: 3,397 lbs.
Steering: power-assist rack & pinion
Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: F245/45ZR-17 front & rear
F. suspension: Macpherson struts / coils / anti-roll bar
R. suspension: live axle / coils / anti-roll bar
Brakes: vented discs front & rear

Engine: 280 cubic-inch DOHC V8
Tested HP: 307 @ 6,000
" Torque: 300 @ 4,800

Lbs. per HP: 11.1
HP per Liter: 66.72
Credits per HP: $92.80

Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: EFi
Valves per Cyl.: 4
BorexStroke: 3.54 x 3.54"
Compression: 9.9:1

Redline: 6,500 // Rev Limit: 7,000

Transmission: 5-speed manual

0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
0-100mph: 13.144 seconds

400 M: 14.052 @ 103 mph
1 KM: 
25.141 @ 134 mph

Brakes: 100-0: 3.561 seconds
Test Track Time: 1:40.371

Top Speed @ Redline
1st: 44 mph
2nd: 74 mph
3rd: 112 mph
4th: 152 mph
5th: 166.3 mph (4,900 rpm)

 

 

-------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY--------------

What do you think of the Mustang? Be honest. Do you think it's ugly? Not worthy of being in the same league as the Supra, the Skyline, the TVR Cerbera? Well, fear not; there are millions who agree. But tell you the truth...I don't care if it's ugly, if it's too heavy, and a poor representation of automotive ingenuity...I'm into this car! I LOVE it. I'm so glad it's in the Gran Turismo series. I wish it were in the first game, matter of fact. PD dropped all 4th-gen 'Stangs in GT3 and GT4 except the red Cobra R version, so let's enjoy the variety we get in GT2 while we can.

On the other hand, there's always been several 4th-gen Camaros since GT1. Having a Camaro to race but no Mustang is like having David Letterman without Jay Leno....Saturday Night Live without Mad TV... get what I'm saying? Who cares if the Mustang isn't the top sports car of GT; it BELONGS in this game.

Okay, sorry for that soapbox intro there. It happens sometimes. Let's get into it.

As mentioned, these Mustangs of GT2 represent Ford's 4th generation, which isn't much different from the 3rd generation, honestly. Anyways, 4th gen 'Stangs started production in 1994, but they have the same structure as the earlier cars; in fact, the 1998 and '99 models in the game still have the same Fox unibody chassis/structure that Ford's been using since 1979! It's been strengthened, it's been refined, but it's still the same. The main changes are: .8 more inches of wheelbase, a slightly wider track front & rear, and all Mustangs built after 1994 also came standard with disc brakes for all four wheels.

As far as muscle goes, the 4th-gen Ford Mustang only had two domestic competitors in its day; and both the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird / Trans Am are pretty much the same car under the skin, so it's really like one competitor. This is a far cry from the 30+ models from GM, Chrysler, and AMC the original had to compete with from 1967 to '74. At the time (in the late '90s) the GM cars were a better performance buy since they had more power for less money, 6-speed transmissions, and traction controls that couldn't be bought for the Mustang even as an option. The Mustang, however, beats the GM machines in the handling department, mostly since the Ford is shorter, stockier, and has less overhang.

Few of us would disagree about the Cobra SVT's weight; as in, there's too much of it. :-) The nice thing about the SVT in GT2 (as opposed to the GT) is not only can the body be chopped up, but a racing kit is also available. Though the car remains heavy, it becomes a lot more manageable. Personally, my biggest criticism of the SVT isn't  weight...it's the lack of power upgrades...but that's getting ahead of myself.

As far as its looks: I'm sure Polyphony tried their best to get things right. I'm speaking of the car in GT2 now, in later games the Cobra R looks fantastic. For Poly's sake, we can at least say that the car looks identifyable in GT2; it sure looks like a 'Stang. But that is all. To me, it just appears rather sloppy--like the computer designers had a couple days to spend drawing it, but were forced to move on to more lofty pursuits...like getting the Nissan Cube worked up.  

 

---------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN-----------------

To all the Ford Mustang lovers out there, you've got something to smile about. Ford's only remaining small-block V8 is in this car, and it performs and sounds GOOD like it should, even in our game. It has a nice wide powerband, which can be reliably pushed duing racing situations from about 4,000 rpms all the way past the redline, thanks to a combination of old-fashioned fat-bore pistons matched with modern aluminum heads housing dual-overhead cams. Other than the fact that earlier 5.0s are lacking in GT2, there is little to diss, not much amiss.

The Mustang Cobra SVT has a 4.6 liter engine that has a higher redline, more power, more speed & better acceleration than the GT. I was disappointed with the stock GT's sound in GT2, but the Cobra is aurally more satisfying. From here on, things begin to fall apart here and there; and ultimately, the Mustang winds up getting the raw deal when compared to the Camaro for whatever reason.

As usual, the stock tailpipe sounds the best...sports, semi-racing, and racing parts are nothing but generic samples which can be heard in a slew of other cars. They're not horrible (there's no Trueno sample accidently mixed in with the Ford's, for instance) but there's no real surprises here. Full tuning of the '98 Cobra will take it to 467 hp (slightly more if you have the '99 car) which is also very disappointing. The difference between Stage 2 and 3 NA tuning is just over 30 horsepower in either car, and that's just not enough. Not only that, but weight can only be dropped to 2,901 pounds for the '98, and 2,930 for the '99, and this makes the Cobra not a choice to enter in many of the game's best races, wheras an ordinary Camaro Z/28 can be taken from the showroom to the World Cup. If you want a higher-performing Stang, you'll have to buy the gaudy, ugly Saleen Widebody. Sorry...the Widebody is a great car, but that white / purple & yellow paint scheme has gotta go, man. Yuck. Plus, I also was simply, really wanting to just get a regular Mustang, mod it up, and take it all the way. Can't do it, though. :(

The stock 5-speed tranny is functional for racing, but 5th is geared extremely tall. To go the economical route, all that's ever needed is the super-close (semi-racing) transmission. There's always plenty of redline area no matter which track. Problem is: street, close, or super-close gearing can be kinda dull to use...1st gear will burn rubber, but that's about it. If you want a bit more excitement, go with the racing gearbox to tweak that thang.

Alright, next section should be interesting.
 
 

---------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------

Guess what? We've got a live on on our hands! Depending if you're a drift lover or not, you'll either embrace or loathe the mushy way the Cobra SVT handles turns. There's lots to criticize here, but hell, I'm STILL having a good time. But I'll put aside my adoration, and try to give an honest and fair assessment for your reading pleasure.

Yes, Cobra SVTs possess swampy handling (soft springs, basically), vague steering control, and a host of other problems. But that's what the aftermarket is for! What it really comes down to is the fact that real-life customers of the Mustang and Camaro aren't looking for shockingly precise handling; they're looking for something else: good old raw power...a ‘bang for the buck’ mentallity is at work here. Anyway, let's take this mama for a spin and see what's on her mind.

As a lot of us know, the front-rear ‘ponycar’ layout is famous for its tempermental, beastly mannerisms. This is like riding a moody horse. We expect plenty of oversteer, spinning, smoke, all the stuff the Arcade Disc Time Trial Devils amongst us try to avoid. It's the classic live rear axle on coil springs at its best (or worst). I've driven the '99 car, too. It's supposed to have an independent rear, which doesn't come across as being any more flexible than the live rear. A fellow named Sucahyo over at GT Planet even track-tested both the '98 and '99, then compared them with an emulator, and couldn't find much difference in the handling or specs of either car. Dang. I already addressed all this during the Mustang GT review I just wrote.

Well at first, there are actually some other issues to contend with, not what you'd expect. Unless one drives the Mustang like a newbie, their main concern will be UNDERsteer, not oversteer. This is assuming the car is stock or lightly modified,...not a V8 with all the works; but honestly, the Mustang Cobra will be plagued with understeer alot more than it'll be plagued with throttle-driven rear wheel issues...unless the driver is not very experienced. It's as if after 30 odd years, Ford has dialed-in their live rear axles, but neglected the front-end handling. Well, the lack of rear wheelspin in our game comes from a combination of tall gearing and not enough power, believe it or not.

Enter those turns (any type) and tons of leaning can be expected, which translates into mid-corner understeer. Since most of the car's weight is up front, this further translates into trail-brake squirrelyness once we're applying those brakes more heavily. It's time to get our next purchases: a brake controller and a limited-slip differential (fully modifyable of course...it's the only way to customize this car to our liking).

Oooh well guess what?, I'm having fun, but some of you who are reading this may possibly be pissed! Some of you may be saying “the Mustang embodies everything I absolutely hate about American cars, Mr. Parnelli”. Hey, I can't argue with ya, but I'm still smiling. :)

These 'Stangs have pretty grippy tires, imo. They're not wickidly wild like '60s-era pony cars, but they could use some help for race-tuning. As far as the upgrades go, the sports suspension isn't up to the task. Only after some extra camber is applied, and one messes with ride height via semi-racing parts can one begin to get this sloppy car to behave; yet truthfully, we'll never completely tame its wild side. But it's worth a shot. I found that later on, sports and finally racing slick tires are needed.

But overall what needs to be said is this. It's surely a shame we can't get this one up to Camaro Country (600+ horsepower) where it deserves to be. 
 

PROS-----------------------------------------

1). More power is standard in the Cobra SVT than the Mustang GT. Better acceleration, speed, and the V8 small block sounds better, too.

2). The handling isn't perfect, but it is controllable and (therefore) challenging for drift luvrs. Take that Mr. Audi Skyline dude.

3). Cheap and affordable.

4). Power upgrades are available.

5). So is a racing body kit for both the '98 and '99 models.

6). Stock tires do have a lot of grip in turns, even tho the car seems like it's struggling.
 

CONS--------------------------------------

1). 3 stages of tuning. Great! Only problem is: you can only add about 160 hp or so at best. And that's all.

2). The Mustang Cobra is heavy, and its power-to-weight ratio doesn't fall far enough. You can't take the SVT to the same fun place the Camaro SS gets to explore. :(

3). Some people don't like the aggressively safe looks of the 'stang. In my opinion, the game car looks a bit choppy...poorly defined PS1 graphics, basically.

4). The Stang's got power and stuff, but during races it seems tame unless you've got the racing gearbox to liven up  performance...burn some rubber, etc.

5). Only five colors to choose from if you go with an SVT (the GT has more choices).

6). Overall handling is never truly up to the level of many other FR sports coupes, even tho personally I dig it. 
 
 

Published: November 29, 2004
Edited: September 22nd, 2005

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