Without doubt, one of the most iconic cars in the world is the Ford Mustang. It is to America what the red telephone box is to England. The Mustang began production in 1964, and it’s taken just over 50 years for it to come to the UK officially. But it is now available in right-hand drive and what’s more, the current model has been engineered with European roads in mind. It all sounds too good to be true; a V8 muscle car that can take corners too. There was only one thing for it… I had to try it out for myself.
Looks – 9/10
After waiting 50 years for the Mustang to hit UK soil, I’m happy to report that the model that’s arrived is one of the best looking of all time. I mean just look at it. The Ford design team know exactly what a Mustang must have, and have made sure this fits the bill. The shark nose at the front end is aggressive, poised, and brandishes the dancing horse. The bonnet bulges in the middle, hinting to the V8 underneath. At the side you get 19-inch alloys, a whopping great “5.0” badge on the front wing, and broad shoulders for rear arches. To the back there’s a subtle ducktail spoiler, twin exhaust pipes and a diffuser on the underside of the bumper. The clear, three-pronged tail lights look superb against the gloss black surround.
On the inside there are yet more Mustang touches. Either side of the dashboard there are identical pods. On the driver’s side this contains deep-dish dials either side of a digital display. The seats are big and welcoming. In the middle of the dashboard you get the 8-inch SYNC touchscreen, which controls the media, climate, phone and satellite navigation. The toggle switches give a retro feel, as does the large steering wheel complete with dancing horse. Other aspects of the interior let the Mustang down. The large centre console is cumbersome and the plastics look cheap. The leather on the seats doesn’t look the highest quality either. The silver plastic trim on the dashboard is a little nicer. Funnily enough though, these minor complaints seem to disappear the moment you push that engine start button…
There may be two engines offered in the Mustang, but realistically there is only one choice; the 5.0-litre V8. Having driven the 2.3-litre EcoBoost I can tell you that whilst it offers respectable performance it just lacks the character to go with such an iconic car. So it has to be the V8. And what a V8 it is. This normally-aspirated unit produces 421PS and 530Nm of torque. In true muscle car style that power is sent in on giant lump to the rear axle. O-62mph takes 4.8 seconds and the top speed is an electronically-limited 155mph. Unfortunately the Ford spec sheet doesn’t quote one, but I think that a standing quarter mile time would be appropriate. This is a ‘proper’ V8 too; it’s lumpy, rough and rumbles like a beauty. The soundtrack matches the image perfectly, and the torque means you can burble around at tickover. Put your foot down though and the engine comes alive. It wants to rev, and is happy to do so. It no longer feels lumpy, instead it feels punchy, lively and responsive.
The issue with a 421PS rear-wheel drive muscle car in the UK is that here, it rains. A lot. That much power to the rear wheels doesn’t mix with wet roads, and makes for an unnerving drive at times. The answer to this is to put the Mustang into Snow/Wet drive mode. That reduces the throttle response so that you don’t leave every T-junction sideways. On a dry road however the Mustang is staggering. I’d almost call it agile. The steering is weighty, and direct. Despite weighing almost 1.8-tonnes is will dart from corner to corner on a wave of V8 noise. It’s a sensory overload that will appease the petrolheads amongst us. Stopping power comes from 6-piston Brembo brakes, more than capable of dealing with the 1.8-tonne kerb weight. You can tell Ford has engineered the Mustang with Europe in mind; it works on our roads, and doesn’t scare you to death in the corners. It’s not the most refined drive by any stretch, but it is a muscle car after all.
Economy – 7/10
Now before you read the score of 7 and close the page for fear that I may in fact be a lunatic, I shall explain myself. Nobody buys a V8 coupe to save the planet. If you are considering purchasing one then you are not expecting to have free road tax and 50mpg. All things considered though, I think the Mustang does alright. Combined fuel consumption is 20.9mpg, and is more easily bettered than you might like. CO2 emissions are 299g/km and that puts the V8 in VED band M. Road tax is £515 a year, and a whopping £1,120 in the first year. That, I’m afraid is the downside to a V8 muscle car.
Practicality – 7/10
You may or may not gauge this from the pictures, but the Mustang is a rather big car. There are upsides and downsides to this. On the upside, the Mustang has a rather sizeable boot, and (sorry for saying this) can fit a set of golf clubs with ease. The front seats, which are designed with large American bottoms in mind, are more than roomy enough for us slim Brits. Unfortunately the rear seats aren’t quite so roomy; it’s strictly children back there. Electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and go, satellite navigation and rear-view camera is standard kit. You can add climate seats (heated and cooled) and a Shaker Pro premium audio system as extras, but this is a well-equipped car that’s easy to live with. Visibility is surprisingly good, although manoeuvring would be made easier with front parking sensors; that long bonnet is exaggerated in tight car parks.
Fun – 10/10
The Ford Mustang has been an icon for some time. There is an old saying “don’t meet your heroes” but I’m glad to say it just doesn’t apply here. The fun in this car is the attention you get. And it doesn’t seem to attract haters. Hot hatches portray immaturity and get looks of disapproval. Supercars carry an air of arrogance and smug superiority. Yet the mustang is universally liked. I think this could be because most of time you want to cruise around at slow speeds. The V8 sounds best at just over tickover, so rumbling through the local village causes less offence than a hot hatch racing through being driven by a track-suited yob. Once you get out on the open road you can let the pony gallop, and that brings yet more smiles to your face. After spending a week with the Mustang, my face hurt!
So that concludes my week with the Ford Mustang. I had a lot of fun; this car manages to turn the daily commute into a posing parade. The V8 engine provides a quintessential Mustang soundtrack, and the manual gearbox is suitable for us Europeans. Whilst the rear seats are cramped and the bonnet is eighteen feet long, it’s actually an easy car to live with. Finally we consider price. A V8 manual Fastback starts at £34,995 and, fully specced, comes to £37,375. At this price there are few cars that can offer this power, this performance, and this pose-ability, which is why the Mustang will do well in Britain. For more information log on to the Ford website where you can configure a car and find your local FordStore. So there we have it. The Mustang finally comes to the UK, and it’s more than worth the wait.
Total Score – 41/50