The current Ford Mustang is one of the best-looking models of all time. The car exudes aggression and bravado. The ‘shark bite’ front bumper gives the car an imposing stance. A sleek, but long, bonnet hides the beauty of a naturally-aspirated V8 engine.
The body lines glide smoothly past the cabin to the rear and those muscular, broad arches. There are some brilliant design features on this car. That galloping stallion at the front is iconic. The raised bonnet lets you know there’s a powerplant underneath. The aerial, stuck up on the side of the boot, has a retro feel to it.
The “5.0” badge on the front wing is much larger and in-your-face than it needs to be. But it also proudly shows that you bought the V8. Which people will appreciate.
Moving round to the rear, you instantly notice the three-pronged tail lights, which are raised against a full gloss black surround. In the centre, you’re drawn towards the large “GT” logo. Underneath all that, you have twin tail exhaust pipes either side of a body-coloured rear diffuser.
The convertible Mustang doesn’t have the same smooth, sloped roof line as the fastback. However, once you take the roof down it matters not one bit. As a convertible the Mustang looks superb, especially in the sun. It’s one of a select few convertibles that doesn’t make you look like a hairdresser.
As for head-turning ability, there are few cars on the market that crane necks on the street like a Mustang. The amount of people who stop to look as you drive through town, or take pictures in a car park, or even wait to speak to you about the car is unbelievable. It commands the attention of a supercar five times its price.
Swing open the doors, step foot in the Mustang and you can tell you’re in a muscle car. Two large leather sports seats are not all that snug: this car is designed for Hank and his American-sized bottom let’s not forget.
In order to be ‘true’ to Mustang heritage the dashboard is symmetrical with a double brow design. Large round dials sit either side of a digital display. Look closely and you’ll notice the speedo refers to ‘Ground Speed’. It’s utterly pointless, but tremendously cool.
In the middle of the cockpit, you get an 8-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen. Under this is some toggle-style switches. Yes, they look retro, but they are a little cheap and flimsy. The gear shifter in the automatic version has an aviation feel to it, like it fires a missile on a fighter jet.
In true Mustang style the steering wheel is too big: like it’s made for a yacht more than a car. All the steering wheel buttons and stalks/switches were like any you’d find in a Ford Mondeo. It would have been nice to see that retro theme continued, rather than simply nabbing stuff from the parts bin.
In fact, you soon notice some corner cutting throughout the car. The centre console is bulky and made entirely from cheap, scratchy plastic. The trim on the dashboard is actually soft plastic, made to look like leather. And the air vents are straight out of a 2005 Fiesta. Disappointing really.
You soon grow accustomed to the interior. In truth, I doubt many people are buying a Mustang for the quality of its toggle switches. One last complaint: the starter button. It should be big and red like it launches a rocket. Instead it’s a bit nondescript. Push it though, and the magic happens…
Engine / Performance
Whilst the Ford Mustang is offered with two engines – a 2.3-litre EcoBoost or a 5.0-litre V8 – there really is only one choice…
The V8 engine is synonymous with Mustang; with a low burble, lumpy idle and blunt-force power delivery. Without it the car feels like it’s missing something.
Gone are the days when we can laugh at America for big engines producing little power, because the Mustang has some serious Top Trumps credentials. The 5.0-litre V8 produces a whopping 421 PS and 530Nm of torque. Whilst there is no official data for the convertible V8 auto in terms of 0-62mph times, it is reasonable to expect it to be around the time of the V8 manual fastback; at 4.8 seconds. It also has an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.
Prod the engine start button and the Mustang rumbles into life. Its low, V8 bellow actually sounds best at lower revs. With the roof down any journey is accompanied with the perfect muscle car soundtrack. You could put the radio on, but why would you?!
The Mustang has four drive modes: Normal, Sport +, Track and Snow/Wet. With Sport + and Track the throttle response is quicker, and the gearbox keeps the revs higher to enable more instant acceleration. Snow/Wet mode is very useful in adverse weather. It slows the throttle response so you can take it easy: a wild Mustang is not what you want when the heavy rain comes!
The 6-speed automatic gearbox isn’t as good as the manual. It has steering wheel paddles but these were seldom used. It is worth noting that the new Mustang has the option of a 10-speed automatic, so we’ll let you know how that is in due course.
Ride / Handling
With all that power and torque being sent to the rear wheels, you can soon get yourself into trouble. A car like the Mustang demands respect but, if given, can be very rewarding to drive indeed.
Remember the assumption that American cars can’t go round corners? Well you can forget that. Ford tested the Mustang in Europe, on European roads complete with potholes and, yes, corners. This means the suspension and steering and brakes are set up properly for us, ensuring the Mustang can go round corners: very well in fact.
The suspension is firm enough to stop the car from wallowing, which would be unnerving in such a big car. The Mustang is flat through the corners, although with that long bonnet its sometimes a bit difficult to point it exactly where you want it.
It’s also good that Ford fitted the Mustang with some serious stopping power in the form of Brembo brakes. The fronts are 380mm with six-piston callipers, certainly a match for the accelerating might of the V8.
Although the steering wheel is too big, it has a good weight and feels reasonably direct. And thanks to the wider 274/40/19 tyres at the back there is enough grip to push through the corners. Losing the roof does affect the stiffness of the car, and on bumpy, undulating roads there is a bit of scuttle shake.
I don’t think you could ever call the Mustang ‘nimble’ or ‘agile’ though, it weighs 1,792kg. And you can tell. But a muscle car has never been the type of car to flow from bend to bend with deft precision. They came to be from racing between the lights in the streets of Detroit.
This could be a very quick discussion point and is probably one most Mustang owners do not even care about.
At the end of the day, any car with a 5.0 litre V8 won’t be doing wonderful things for the o-zone layer, though Ford has tried a little bit. The Mustang features start/stop technology, which is definitely not seamless when the V8 fires back up to life. Snow/Wet mode also doubles up as a useful ‘Eco’ mode thanks to the less-responsive throttle.
Nonetheless, the combined fuel consumption is quoted as 22.1mpg. Gulp. Don’t worry though, because on a reasonably rounded test week (some hard driving and some lazy cruising) we achieved pretty much that figure. On some longer motorway stints we even got up to 25mpg!
Bear in mind however that city driving and any enthusiasm with the loud pedal will see your fuel consumption the wrong side of 20mpg. But look on the bright side, you’ll soon make a new best friend in the local petrol station attendant.
CO2 emissions are a hefty 289g/km, like a two-fingered salute to the environmentalists. That means that first year VED is an eye-watering £2,070 in the first year. Flat rate road tax of £140 applies thereafter, but as this particular model costs more than £40,000 it falls foul to the VED surcharge of £310 for five years.
This is where the Mustang was most surprising. You would expect that, as with any 2+2 sports car, that the Mustang would have zero appeal and use to a family. In reality, it turned out to be rather good.
For starters, this is a big car. We’re talking 4,784mm long and 2,080mm wide. With that huge frame, the Mustang has plenty of interior space for the front passengers. The space allows for 2 bulky sports leather seats and plenty of leg space upfront.
The rear seats are less spacious, but absolutely fine for children. Adults may fit in the back too, depending on how tall the front seat occupants are. I manged to fit my wife & 2 year old daughter in her child seat into those rear seats.
Adults will, however, find longer journeys uncomfortable in the rear; especially with the roof down. There is little in the way of protection from the wind, and rear seat passengers suffer as a result.
Despite the roof taking up some of the space, the remaining boot space is reasonably generous. It holds up to 332 litres (compared with 408 litres for the fastback). The opening to the boot is restricted however, so getting larger items such as suitcases in and out will a challenge.
The Mustang does feel wide. You notice this when you come to a supermarket car park. You have to either drive around looking for a ‘nice’ space, or leave the roof down and jump out. Whilst the latter may look cool, there’s always the danger you could come back to squatters.
This outgoing Mustang was certainly showing its age when it comes to in-car technology. The new model has been given the latest gadgets, so when we eventually get our hands on that (we’re working on it) we can see what’s what.
Don’t get me wrong; the Mustang has plenty of creature comforts: keyless entry and go, electronically-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, Ford SYNC 3 touchscreen with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay, reversing camera and Xenon HID headlights.
The convertible roof mechanism is mostly automatic; there’s just one handle that requires manual operation.
When it comes to lighting the Mustang is a bit hit and miss. The customisable colours for the interior mood lighting and puddle lamps is a nice touch. The puddle lamps also project the galloping stallion onto the pavement which is nice. But there are no signature LED daytime-running lights, which is a shame. Hopefully this is rectified for the new model, to give it a more imposing appearance.
Optional extra’s includes climate-controlled seats (both heated and cooled), a Shaker Pro Premium audio system and rear parking sensors alongside the rear camera. Surprisingly, Ford haven’t included front parking sensors as an optional extra, despite having such a large bonnet.
It’s important to highlight that there’s no autonomous braking or lane assist systems to help reduce insurance premiums and keep you safe on the everyday roads. This led to a poor performance in the NCAP: a disappointing 2 star rating. After adding in some safety features the Mustang was reassessed as 3 stars. It remains to be seen if the new model will score any higher than that.
Value For Money
In the Ford Mustang you have a V8 sports car with some serious performance, but with a working-class feel to it. The blue-collar hero, if you will. Prices for the V8 start at £38,165 for the fastback manual.
As that’s under £40,000 you only pay £140 for subsequent years’ road tax, and for the performance on offer I’d say that’s a considerable bargain.
The convertible automatic is the most expensive of the bunch. By the time you get to our test car with metallic paint and some options, you’re looking at £45,555 which isn’t as much as a bargain.
Having driven a manual car it’s definitely the better gearbox. Whether the new 10-speed automatic will be a better choice is yet to be seen. Do you really need to pay so much more for the convertible? That’s one for you to decide.
In fact, to put this car in perspective, the prices have just been released for the new model. Ford has confirmed it will be bringing the Mustang Bullitt to the UK: which is an homage to the car made famous by the 1968 film. That car – a V8 manual fastback with a host of upgrades – is set to cost from £47,145.
Personally I think that renders the ‘regular’ convertible automatic pointless. The amount of time you’ll spend with the roof down is not worth the extra money, and the manual is more engaging to drive. If you want that V8 noise, then just wind your window down instead.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||5.0-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 petrol|
|Max power||416PS at 6,000rpm|
|Max torque||530Nm at 2,000rpm|
|Drivetrain||Six-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential|
|0-62mph||4.8 seconds (est.)|
|Fuel tank size||61 litres|
|Fuel consumption||22.1mpg, combined cycle|
|Luggage capacity||332 litres|
|NCAP rating||2 stars|
|Price as tested||£45,555|