Mustang is Ford’s new Muscle car imported from the good ol’ USA. It is ferociously fast and drinks like a drag queen. Those who know me know that I’m very fond of American muscle, and no I don’t mean the kind found at Venice Beach, although……
The GT’s blistering Coyote 5.0L V8 is not force-fed air by a turbo. No, this is raw power from a big old chunk of American knowhow. It belts out 303kw and 530Nm by drinking only premium 98Ron fuel, of course. At least that’s what the book says. Open the fuel cap and there is a huge E10 94ron compatible. Guess what I put in?
Ford said people would stop and stare, and stare they did. They also took photos and help up their thumbs and asked for selfies. Some were very keen and followed PONY21 taking videos on their phones.
People of all ages are potty about Mustang which bodes well for its future.
The voluptuous bodywork continues a long line of handsome hunks, and uses a familiar formula from the 60’s car. The less said about some of the 90’s Mustangs the better.
The 2016 Mustang is the first ever to be made in right-hand drive meaning the blinkers are on the correct side, Hurrah!
“Pony 21” is a GT 6 manual on 19” wheels (250” front and 275” wide tyres rear). The LED lights at the rear are two groups of 3 vertical slashes. The outer slashes are also indicators and rather cleverly change colour from red to orange as they flash.
One or two people have been rude about the interior, but they just don’t get it. There is just the right mix of old and new, of retro and modern, and remember, this is meant to be a powerful sports car accessible to the masses. One haughty journo said “it’s nowhere near an M4”. Quick as a flash I snorted, “dear boy it may have similar power, but you can have 2 and a half Mustangs for a single m4. You’re just a badge snob”.
The only complaint is the flat look of the pony emblem on the steering wheel boss. You’d think Ford could run to a bit of depth to give it interest. As it is, it looks like someone ran over a horse with a steam roller. The rest is mostly good news. The Sync II audio interface is easy to use but annoyingly slow to respond. Even the Satnav is a bit last decade and has the CPU speed of a strawberry. However, it does the job with an intuitive design. Everything you need is right there without the need of a great big knob between the seats on the console. Most of the time you’ll be using the touch screen. You can’t use some of the inputs while moving, besides, the screen tends to move about because of the firm ride. There is voice input, but she can be obstructive and doesn’t seem to understand English. Sync III will bring Google Android Auto and Apple Carplay and can’t come soon enough for me.
I was at a European dealer recently who was convinced their bespoke connection system was best. I explained that “CarPlay” makes cars work like their owner’s phones, not the other way round. It is what most buyers demand, but the salesman remained resolute.
The 60’s Mustang had lots of exposed metal highlighted with chrome. We’ve discovered that metal surfaces do horrible things to humans in accidents so the modern surfacing makes do with padded plastic. The quality is a vast improvement.
The dash, seats and doors are “leather appointed”. There a combination of real and simulated leather. The man made stuff looks ok to me and If you can’t tell the difference, no one will know or care. Oh, by the way, most Mercedes Benz cars have vinyl seats and no-one bats an eyelid.
While on the subject of seats, the perforated natural leather has heating and cooling. I’m not a “fan” of cooling, if you’ll pardon the pun. Whenever I use it I get out feeling like I’ve wet myself and am too embarrassed to feel about to make sure I haven’t. Make of that what you will.
The rear seats are for kids only. We managed to shoe-horn 3 beefy lads and a slim lassie in to the cosy cabin. Sadly, it felt more like visitor’s day at HM Prison Pentridge than high speed gents lounge.
The audio packs a wallop. It was much better than I expected considering it comes standard. Ford took so much extra care kitting out the Mustang, only to fall over at the last hurdle. There are very few options. Apart from the $2,625 automatic, there are a few accessory packs, wheels, a black painted roof or a nifty phone holder. It’s a shame the driver aids can’t be had at any price. There is no blind spot or lane monitoring, no autonomous braking and no speed limiter. All of these can be had on a humble Focus. If it’s a deal breaker, start the engine and you’ll soon forget what niggled you only a few seconds before.
The Smart Entry system locks by touching the groves on the upper edge of the door handle, and unlocks by slipping a finger inside the handle to open as normal. When the system unlocks, the puddle light projects a “pony” onto the ground at your feet. Love, love, love.
On the road:
God, what a beast.
America is positively awash with shameful automotive pastiches trying desperately to cling to a history that never really existed. You see, it was nothing more than urban myth. The original muscle cars looked and sounded the part but handled like half cooked suet puddings. They had an unenviable reputation for nasty interiors and suspect reliability. Some modern attempts to recapture that old look met with mixed success, the awful Thunderbird being a case in point. The reborn Bird was given a merciful burial after a single very short life.
Mustang is different. It sounds like thunder, has the looks of a god, and the interior is fabulous despite some saying otherwise.
The question remains: how’s the handling?
Well, the handling is as monumental as the Wagnerian exhaust note is loud.
Before I go on, the first person who writes in complaining that the Mustang doesn’t handle like an M4 will earn themselves a lifetime ban from the site, so will anyone else writing in to have a bitch. It’s as silly as comparing an orange with an ironing board.
The engine fires up with a quick shove of the Smart Start button, but only if you paw is on the clutch for obvious reasons. The V8 sounds like a symphony composed by a demented Beethoven, in the key of Hell Minor, being conducted by an erupting Mount Vesuvius.
The light clutch makes the Getrag 6 speed manual as easy to use as an automatic. The gear lever is falls to hand as the driver’s arm rests on the console. Cups in the cup holders are in the way, so don’t use them.
It only takes a jiff to get a perfect driving position. The seat-back is manual making rear entry a bit of a faff. You won’t want to do it too often.
Once moving, you need a couple of gear changes to get used to the feel. When you do, Mustang fits like a slipper, mounted on an F18. It’s perfect despite being a trifle tail happy, especially in the wet. A fellow writer got very untidy in a very low speed corner. A dab too much power had the rear wanting to go faster than the front. Wet roads are treacherous at the best of times but I was surprised the electronic nannies didn’t swing in to action.
The ride is very firm, perhaps too firm for some. It turned inputting data on the infotainment touch screen into a fine art.
The driving modes and steering feel are driver selectable. Unfortunately, the dratted things reset with each start. I found “sport” driving mode, and “comfort” steering mode to be the most comfortable. The days of feedback from the road surface are gone. Most cars have electric steering so any feedback you think you feel is artificial at best. The brakes which feel touchy at first, quickly feel razor sharp.
Around town, the GT Mustang is a happy re-run of driving Miss Daisy. There is endless torque for those pesky lights and a big lazy low end noise to let others know you’re coming. Threading through city snarls is fun.
Mustang feels like a different car on the highway. It lopes along in 6th gear scarcely ticking over. The noise is nonexistent often prompting the driver to drop a few cogs and plant a foot just for a bit of variation. Looking over that big bulging bonnet evokes a sense of the original 60’s car. The driver looks along one of the deeply sculptured character lines making the bulge look even more masculine. Despite Ford’s very first-ever Mustang being delivered to a woman, that model had a butchness to it, and that mucho image lives on in the 2016 GT.
We loved this coupe so much, we did not one, but 3 mountain runs. I’ve said before, mountains would have been a problem to continent-crossing muscle cars of the past. What was magnificent on the straight turned into an appalling sloppy mess in the bends. This car is different. Ford found a dictionary and looked up the word “sharp”, and placed it in front of the word “handling”. From sweeping bend to hairpin, the Mustang felt nimble and agile. Powering out of a corner and up a steep hill brought out the most beautiful tones. There is 530Nm of torque to all but flatten even the steepest hill. There is so much torque that the nannies will kick in on hairpins with very little provocation and at very low speed.
Of course the brutish side appeals to the hoon in us all, but the comfort makes day to day use a pleasure rather than a chore.
There is an indefinable sensation that makes the 2016 Mustang and the 1964½ Mustang feel like closer siblings than the years suggest. I mean that in a good way of course. There is even a certain familiarity in the ride and handling. You don’t feel connected to the road as you do in a Subaru BRZ which has half as much power, nor do you feel the handling is quite as good as a BMW M4 which costs twice as much. The only other 2 door V8 under 150 grand, is Holden SS Ute. The Holden is a fabulous drive but not everyone wants a ute. What Ford has done is to build a car unique in the segment. It stands alone as the only V8 coupe under $100,000. There is a 2.3 turbo 4-cylinder version too and we will be testing that next week. It seems a little wrong but there are those who just want the guilt-free pleasure of the body and the drive and don’t mind a slightly less frantic experience. Of course, the turbo 4 has more power and torque than most of the 60’s V8s.
Mustang is a lazy boulevard cruiser, a barnstorming mountain climber, and a sweet sexy shopping car. It is achingly beautiful, and says much about its owner.
Apart from the absence of a few handy gizmos, the flat lifeless steering wheel emblem, and a slow infotainment system, the Mustang is a delight. “Headturner” is a much overused term, but in this case is completely appropriate. It isn’t perfect and can be as willful as an angry teen, but a teen you love as your own blood.
Would I buy one? Yes, and no one else would be allowed to drive it. And for the record, I’d have it in preference to an M4, C63 or RS4. Mustang needs no further explanation.
Price: $62,698 (drive away NSW)
Engine: 5.0L V8, naturally aspirated, E10 compatible (98ron preferred), 303kw/530Nm, 13L/100k
Transmission: 6 speed Getrag manual or 6 speed auto