MEC to Holt Renfrew. Tim Horton's to Caffé Artigiano.
One minute you're up to your door handles in righthand-drive diesel Japanese imports and 300,000 km Toyota 4Runners, the next you're awash in a sea of Porsches, Astons, Maseratis and two-tonne Teutonic SUVs. M3, AMG, GTS; everywhere you turn, an alphanumeric designation indicating the highest-horsepower variant of any given European heavyhitter.
It's a sea of horsepower, a glut of go-fast goodies: proof that all you need to own a fast car is lots and lots of money. Or is it?
*Rumble rumble rumble* I roll into town in a bright red, six-speed Mustang with gunmetal-grey wheels, wearing a baseball hat and cranking out AC/DC's "Jailbreak." A brief nod to a guy in an $80,000 BMW M3. He's got 414 horsepower. I've got 420 h.p.
Yo. Word to your mother. Design
While I'm living out the lyrics to every Bruce Springsteen song ever, let's take a gander at the latest pony to canter out of Ford's factory in Flat Rock, Mich.
It's a handsome brute, long of snout with a short rear deck that cuts away, fastback-style, in a nod to its near 50-year heritage. That classic galloping steed emblazoned on the mildly updated grille speaks of a long, unbroken bloodline back to the 1960s.
While embracing that retro-feel, this 2012 iteration is as modern as it gets. There are new HID headlights and LED lighting front and back, and they've kept the rear sequential signal lights: a favourite of mine.
Those hood-louvres are functional, allowing heat from the "big stove" to escape, and if that wasn't clue enough that you'd sprung for the larger engine option, the 'Stang's flanks are proudly emblazoned with 5.0-badging: it's important to let the girlies on stand-by know you've got the V-8, even though you're just going to roll by.
As mentioned, my tester came in a "yes, officer?" shade called Racing Red; other new available colours include Gotta Have It Green and Deep Impact Blue, which is a movie with Morgan Freeman in it, as I recall.
Stepping into the Mustang's spacious interior, you can see why it costs less than the hipower German iron. It's very American car, with swathes of rubberized-elephant-hide dashboard and super-shiny chrome-dipped plastic.
Let's talk about what's right with the Mustang's interior. The Recaro seats are pretty much perfect, road-trip-grade comfort blended with track-day lateral support. The overall design is clean, functional and simple, the optional glass roof brightens up the interior and the controls are easy to use.
My tester was equipped with the optional nine-speaker, 550-watt Shaker Pro stereo system. It's . . . how shall I put this - enough to shake and kick holes in the ground.
I have a single gripe about the car and it's the steering wheel. Boss and Shelby versions come with an Alcantara wheel that's lovely to the touch. The regular Mustang comes with a leather-wrapped wheel that has only two plastic portions - right at the 9-and 3-o'clock positions. Surely, the optional track package that my tester has could get the upgraded wheel as well.
Sitting in the Mustang, rolling up an on-ramp at low speed and getting ready to stick your foot in it, you already know what's going to happen.
That huge expanse of brightred hood filling your view is a dead giveaway.
You're expecting the rear tires to do an impromptu Riverdance as they scrabble for grip, the front end to rise like a speedboat, the power to come on in a big torquey rush, the back end to shimmy around on the one-two up-shift.
Hear me now: just because you're anticipating all these things doesn't mean you aren't going to be surprised by them. Sweet mother of pearl is this thing fast!
And it's not like it's a heffalump about it either. The hefty shifter feels like you're moving girders and beams around, but it's snick-snick quick and accurate; a shortthrow railway switch. The suspension is taut, allowing next to no body roll. The brakes are frankly excellent.
What's more, the Mustang's power delivery, while delightfully torquey, isn't what you'd call old-school. I bounced the Coyote V-8 off the rev-limiter at least three times during the week as it never runs out of steam when charging toward the 7,000 r.p.m. limit.
Much hay has been made about the live rear-axle, indicating the Mustang is a drag-racer, not a track star.
Ignore this nonsense. Yes, it's probably less buttoned-down than the arch-rival Camaro, but is supremely controllable in the turns.
A base Mustang V-8 will set you back $39,299, but you're going to want some fixins on that burger. In the must-have category, the leather Recaro seats will cost you a further $1,000 (cloth-covered seats are a bit cheaper), and the $2,200 Racing Package gives you a Torsen limited slip differential, improved cooling, 19-inch alloys and wider, stickier tires. There are 420 reasons why you need those things.
In the "want" column, the glass roof ($2,200) brightens up that dark interior, an optional rearview camera ($300) makes parking the big beast a cinch, and that powerful Shaker Pro audio system will set you back an extra thousand if you want to check out the hook while your DJ revolves it.
Manual transmissions now come with hill-start assist, and the automatic has a new manual-shift feature that purportedly allows full manual control (this feature wasn't tested). Fuel economy ratings for the five-litre V-8 manual are 13.6/7.8 litres/100 kilometres city/highway. Good luck getting close to that, Mustang Sally.
Something interesting you might not expect out of a muscle-car V-8 is the level of available tech. Along with satellite navigation, backup sensors and Bluetooth, my tester was equipped with something called TrackApps. Using an on-board accelerometer, TrackApps can clock your quarter-mile acceleration, cornering g, lap times; pretty much any racing metric you can think of.
Power!; good value; power!; grippy, confidence-inspiring handling; power! Stop sign
Not exactly subtle; steering wheel plastic portions; fuel economy like an oil-well fire.
The checkered flag
A blue-collar hero that's more polished than you might expect.
Competitors Chevrolet Camaro SS ($37,735)
While the Mustang can boast that it has never skipped a model year (although some of the '70s 'Stangs wouldn't be missed), Chevrolet's pony car has had a more chequered history.
However, the current model is a runaway hit, and currently outsells the Mustang across the range. I'm not entirely sold on the ultra-angular styling, but it's certainly popular with bow-tie fans.
Which is faster? The Camaro's got 426 horses, but it's heavier too. It'd be a neck-and-neck race too close to call.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 GT ($36,499)
Here's an odd-ball cross-shopping comparison, at least on paper. How can you put up a Hyundai against one of the most iconic cars ever sold?
Well, this year's Genesis Coupe is no slouch with an available 348 h.p. V-6 and track-rated suspension. It's a better match for the V-6 version of the Mustang - which is a performance bargain, by the way - but for those wanting rear-drive and torque but more of a Japanese car feel, the Korean manufacturers have managed to build a car that drives like a Honda S2000, except with more grunt.