Although the current generation of the Ford Mustang has been around since 2005, improvements have been made almost every year since. Not limited to just cosmetic or content updates, the biggest change came in the 2011 model year with the return of the much-loved 5.0L V8 engine. With a completely redesigned Mustang expected next year, this latest version is sure to be the best.

With that new Mustang on the way, changes to the 2014 model are few. The unfortunate discontinuation of the brilliant Boss 302 trim level is joined by two new exterior color choices and two new appearance packages to round out the updates. Our tester was a 2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium Coupe with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. The added options were limited, but they all made an impact. The list included the GT Track Package, leather RECARO racing seats, reverse sensing system and the "Gotta Have It Green" paint.

If you decide to check off paint code "HF" on your order form, get ready to have lots of conversations with perfect strangers. Whether folks love the color or hate it, they couldn't help but talk about it. Many of the conversations were with older gentlemen who would say that it reminded them of wild color choices from the late '60s and early '70s, referred to by many as the "Muscle Car Era." I personally loved the brashness of the color -- and I definitely never had a problem finding where I parked, no matter how crowded the lot.

On the Street

With 420 horsepower on tap, the car is always ready to go. Stick with the standard 6-speed manual transmission and you won't be disappointed. The shifter is short and precise, while the clutch is very easy to modulate, with just the right amount of heaviness. When pushed, the exhaust note from the naturally-aspirated V8 is addictive but quiets down nicely when cruising down the highway. Even with the performance-oriented GT Track Package, the ride quality suffers very little. While the optional RECARO seats hold you tight, they are still comfortable, even after hours of driving.

Simplicity

Our tester was delivered without the optional navigation or upgraded Shaker Pro Audio sound system. The standard power seat controls are replaced with manual levers when fitted with the RECAROs, and the heated seat package is unavailable. Not one of those luxuries was missed. Doing without many of today's extra conveniences, the 2014 Ford Mustang is somewhat of a time machine, again harking back to those days of the muscle car wars. It's quite a welcome feeling to be able to concentrate simply on driving. Without the distraction of a fancy display, you may notice that some of the materials are not quite as nice to touch as they are to look at.

The 2014 Ford Mustang is, by far, the most sorted and best equipped version of this current generation. With multiple forms available, from a basic (yet still quite quick) V6 coupe to the supercharged V8-engined Shelby GT500 convertible, the Mustang excels at appealing to a very wide audience. Even though the Chevrolet Camaro may have a slight performance edge, the Dodge Challenger might possess a more retro look and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe more agility, the Ford Mustang might just be the hands-down winner in this very competitive affordable-performance-car segment.

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Kristopher Affayroux is a car data analyst with the AutoTrader content team. He's a long-time car buff whose background stretches from vehicle appraisals and auctions to automotive insurance and mechanical upgrades and personalization. When he's not tinkering with his personal rides, Kristopher spends his time rooting for his favorite MLB and NFL teams.

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