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    Comparing Cars with Automotive Muscle

    By Philip Ruth–

    Muscles come in different shapes and forms, and that’s also true of muscle cars. And if you’re not dependent on a car to be practical, then you can pick and choose between the diverse variety of vehicles that offer legitimate sporting credentials.

    The Dodge Durango R/T I’m driving at the moment is the big-SUV expression of automotive muscle, with blackout graphics, a Hemi V8 and a growly exhaust. There’s no mistaking it for a mainstream family hauler, as its presence is defined by aggression.

    The same is true of these two recent testers, a Ford Mustang GT Premium and Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. Both the Mustang and Q50 had a significant refresh for 2018, and so both are ultimate refinements of vehicles that have been tweaked over a long period of many model years. Both succeed as remarkably undistilled delivery systems for serious driving fun.

    That’s especially noteworthy because new cars as a whole are becoming more appliance-like, as they evolve further into the role of the smooth supplicant. Both this Ford and Infiniti are indeed smooth, and they’ll do what you want. They’ll also let you know all along the way that they are ready, at a moment’s notice, to triple your speed.

    Of course, it’s not usually safe or wise to take up either car on that invitation. The real value is the confidence engendered by such a deep bench of performance abilities in this Ford coupe and Infiniti sedan. Helming a car with barely-contained mightiness has a way of lifting your spirits every time you engage, even if on brief errands.

    Neither this 460-horsepower Mustang GT nor the 400-horsepower Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 (yep, that’s partly how this new-for-2018 special edition got its name) demand that you rip up the speed limits to enjoy them. Each has plentiful torque for strong launches and compliant transmissions for effortless passing. The Mustang’s six-speed manual shifted with pleasing heft, and the Q50’s seven-speed automatic was sharply responsive.

    And that’s where the personalities of these two muscle cars diverge. The Mustang’s 5.0-liter V8 gives the car a broadly powerful feel, where you gather speed in such a relaxed fashion that you’re surprised to find the scenery whipping by.

    In comparison, the Q50 Red Sport 400’s 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 seems much more drawn to a point. Here the expansive burble of the Mustang is concentrated into a finer channel of focused brawn. The Mustang is assuredly faster, but traffic’s cut-and-thrust can have the Q50 Red Sport 400 feeling lighter on its feet.

    These command performances are backed up by striking looks and supple interiors. The pinpoint highlights in Ford’s “Orange Fury Metallic Tri-Coat” and Infiniti’s “Dynamic Sunstone Red” kept both cars looking activated, even in San Francisco’s foggy afternoons. Both have a lot going on inside, with the Mustang’s shiny metal-styled instrument panel answered by the Q50 Red Sport 400’s festive diamond-pattern stitching.

    Overall, both are satisfying expressions of automotive musculature, translated into different forms.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant (www.gaycarguy.com). Check out his automotive staging service at www.carstaging.com