It is dusk. The dark descends as, out of the gloom, emerges a slender figure. “That’s enormous”, said my wife, “also a bit flash”. Naturally, I expected this reaction and was ready for it. I started the car and the Ford Mustang 5.0L V8 grumbled into life; I switched on the lights and, jumping out, went around to the passenger side and opened the door to reveal – a puddle light shining a bright, white Mustang onto the road like a personal bat-signal. Job done. Sold to the lady!
The Ford Mustang Arrives
Since around 1964 America has kept the original pony car to itself, refusing point blank to put the steering wheel on the correct side of the motor and ship it over the pond. Then, with a startling and unexpected turn of events in 2015, Ford began taking orders for a proper British version. Over fifty years of hurt and at last it was here. I first had the opportunity to drive this car briefly at the UK launch.
Fortunately, they resisted watering down the V8 package and rightly so. Common sense however dictated that there should also be a greener version for the more eco-conscious sandal-wearing sports car type and the company also offered a 2.3L four-cylinder version.
The Cheaper Ford Mustang
The four-pot isn’t at all bad (313bhp/432Nm). It accelerates nearly as quickly as its muscled, V8-powered sibling with the added benefit that it costs far less to run. The 2.3L looks pretty much identical (although without those shiny 5.0 badges on the side) and comes loaded with standard equipment.
Both versions are surprisingly practical with a generous boot. Trouble is, the smaller engine just doesn’t sound the same. If you, like me, come from the distant past of motoring pleasure, you will hold to the truth that there is no replacement for displacement. This is my mantra.
The V8 Ford Mustang
I had an enormously enjoyable week with the 410bhp V8 (there’s a full specification of the tested car at the end of this article) although it provokes different reactions from different people. Driving past a bus-stop filled with a herd of jostling teenage schoolboys, the scene featuring a soundtrack of the engine’s muted burble, I received a vocal and unanimous chorus of approval.
The Ford Mustang looks great from any angle and it attracted a lot of mostly positive attention. Men – it’s always men – approached me in car parks (in an automotive way, let me add) and with genuine interest asked many questions. The biggest reaction was when I told them that the test car, even with optional extras, only cost £41,680 which is a bit of a bargain. The 2.3L is about £4k less.
Sadly there were a couple of instances when a private motorist and a taxi driver thought it would be amusing to slow down below the speed limit in front of me. The taxi driver even switched lanes to do so. Just how sad does your life have to be?
Inside The Ford Mustang
It’s surprisingly comfortable in this sleek motor. The front seats are big and supportive and easy to get in and out of thanks to the large doors. Inevitably there’s a compromise with the two rear seats and leg room is tight to say the least. You could just about fit a couple of adults in there if the front seats hunker far forward but really it is a space for ankle-biters only.
The dashboard is nicely squared away with Shaker Pro premium audio and navigation via a clear 3.8” screen. All the usual gizmos are accessed via this or the steering wheel buttons. Inevitably, others have mentioned the hard plastics on the cupholders between the seats and elsewhere but this is how to keep the price down, I guess. It all seems tough and hard-wearing and it does not bother me one jot, especially when the speedo dial bears the legend ‘Ground Speed’ which is of course the important thing.
More importantly still, there are proper bright metal switches to change the driving mode (Wet/Snow, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Absolutely Track Bonkers) and steering mode (Normal,Comfort and Sport) to configure the car for all road and traffic situations.
Driving The Ford Mustang
Calling the Mustang a sports car is maybe not quite correct. On this version (there’s a convertible too) the Pony logo on the rear badge is changed to a GT badge and that’s the point. In my view this car is very much in the Grand Tourer style and more than capable of soaking up many miles with aplomb. You could drive five hundred miles and then drive five hundred more.
It’s a really comfortable ride that doesn’t compromise handling. Okay, maybe it is a bit cumbersome down country lanes but out on the A and B roads of blighted Britain is where this commanding motor belongs.
With 530Nm of torque it pulls from almost any speed. The test car had a six-speed auto that was so good on kick-down and when cruising I didn’t bother with the paddles at all. A six-speed manual is available and can be had with ‘launch control’ if that’s your cup of petrol. Ford say that a combined 20.9mpg is the norm. In fact, in mixed driving, I showed an average of 23.5mpg although there was very little stop/start urban mileage involved, it must be said.
The Ford Mustang is a past master brought forward and bang up-to-date for the Twenty-First Century. Sure, 299g/km isn’t that great and you won’t win friends in the clean air department but it’s a 5.0L V8 and it is hugely desirable so what’s an enthusiast to do?
I admit that I love American cars so I am easily convinced by this one which absolutely oozes automotive character. Out on the road and firing on all eight cylinders this car is an absolute joy and I refuse to accept any negative waves from others; it’s the business. But you don’t have to take my word for it so I’ll leave the last word to Mrs DriveWrite after a week of riding shotgun. “Smashing”, she said. You can’t say fairer than that. Geoff Maxted