When Motor Trend rated this car 1987 Motor Trend Car of the Year, they were absolutely correct. This car, aside from the faults, is perfect.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.3-liter in-line 4-cylinder single overhead cam that according to Ford makes 150 horsepower in the automatic and 190 horsepower in the 5-speed version. I find these numbers a bit conservative considering it is the same exact engine that was used in the 1985 Ford Mustang SVO, rated at 205 horsepower.
The car is very quick especially when the turbocharger kicks in. As expected, there is a fair amount of turbo lag at low revs. The turbo's start speed (the rpm where some boost comes in) seems to be around 2,500rpm. Full boost comes in at around 3,000rpm and if you keep into it, you should keep a close eye onto the speedometer as you are likely to be over the speed limit!
The car handles quite well for an American car that was built in the 1980's. The automatic ride control works very well, however, the "auto" mode for the suspension is unusually soft for a car with this much power. I prefer to keep the car on "firm" for most of the time. Though the car came standard with 225/60VR-16 tires, I have 225/55R-16 snow tires on now, to be replaced with 225/55VR-16 all-season performance tires when the weather becomes warmer.
There are a lot of features that came standard on this car that some cars do not have (standard-equipped). 8-way power front seats, power door locks, power mirrors, power windows, automatic climate control and a power sunroof are standard. There is also a console switch that allows you to choose either regular fuel or premium fuel. How it works is it adjusts the boost, timing, and computer to allow the use of either fuel.
The interior of my car is starting to deteriorate, so a full restoration is in the near future. All Thunderbirds are classic!