First, a little about phone mirroring:
Ford is equipping 2017 Mustangs with Apple Carplay/Android Auto, hoorah. It turns the car audio system into an extension of a smart phone, and at last, makes hands-free use easy. Most people have trouble reading car manuals, but worry not, every smart phone user knows how to recharge their trusty personal assistants. Using Carplay is as easy as plugging your phone into the USB charging port.
It takes an already good sound system and makes it 21st century smart. There are brands who stubbornly resist the move to mirroring smart phones. They prefer their proprietary system instead, well they would wouldn’t they. One German car maker quipped, “installing Carplay would be taking a giant step backwards”, but I was having none of it. Quick as a flash I said, “if you think buyers don’t want their own phones on the LCD screen in the car? You’re delusional”. They frowned. Germans and their quirky sense of humour take a lot of gentle understanding.
Buyers want “easy to use”, but car-based voice control is anything but easy. They would drive a lesser man to drink. I’m reminded of that TV commercial where the woman is screaming into the phone because the answering robot refuses to co-operate. Ford’s system is a prime example with that detestable woman saying “please repeat” every time you attempt even the most basic of tasks. By the time you’ve tried and failed many times, you’d rather lick the exhaust on a Falcon than try again. Turning a knob to dial up the temperature suddenly becomes very attractive because the car’s native voice control is cray-cray.
If there is one drawback, it is you need mobile data to use Siri for the voice commands in Carlplay, and that means being in range. Given that most of the time the majority of car owners are in mobile range that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
The system will only mirror the phone native apps which sounds suspiciously like some sort of stitch-up with phone makers to me. Because music streaming was already available in the offerings of one or two car brands, Carplay will also do a few streaming apps as a bonus. Why won’t it just do all your apps? Simple: some of you have a thousand apps with only a tiny percent of them ever seeing the light of day so don’t be greedy. Again, no mobile signal, no music. More importantly, no Satnav. For smart phones with a Satnav app, you can switch to it because it will operate without data assist, more or less.
You can press the voice button, then use Siri to complete simple tasks as if you were holding the phone. Of course you can text via voice control but the more complex the task, the more the driver is distracted. Some systems disable the iPhone apps while plugged in, so they only way you can text is via the voice prompts. Currently, Carplay uses wired connections only.
One last thing:
Since only wired connections are available, you don’t need to pair your device. Just plug in your normal phone cable and the USB port will do the rest. In a jiff you LCD screen looks just like your mobile.
Mustang 2.3L turbo:
OK, when we drove the panty-wettingly gorgeous Mustang GT V8 a few weeks ago we were completely won over. It painted in Look-At-Me-Look-At-ME-Red with a thunderous 5.0L V8 (read about it here) and a notchy 6 speed manual under a great big bulge.
How could a 4 cylinder American Muscle Car possibly measure up? In short, it can’t. Identical in every way other than colour and engine, I thought the Sexy-Silver coupe might appeal to the tight-wad set, but doubted its relevance to V8 lovers would be negligible, and I was right.
That’s not to say the performance was horrible, quite the contrary. I expected the 2.3 power plant to be as exhilarating as a roofied sloth, and to sound as exciting as being tied to a chair listening to Tony Abbott speeches, but I was wrong. In fact, I was wrong on both counts. Although nowhere near as gutsy as the 306kw V8, the 233kw is no slug. It pumps out a respectable 432Nm of torque rather than the 530Nm of the V8. Keep in mind, 233kw is way more powerful than the V8’s in the original 60’s Mustang. The raspy exhaust sound is reminiscent of a classic frisky two-seater being driven by a posh British bloke in a cap and gloves.
We took several runs through the insanely twisted Macquarie Pass where the full-strength Mustang had been a few weeks earlier. It was illuminating to say the least. If you take away the V8’s engine note from hell, the 4pot isn’t all that much different. Keeping the turbo spinning means tons of temping torque to push you through corners then propel you up a hill on the other side. On the highway it is smooth and quiet but the ride is still quite firm and you have to like that kind of ride. The Mustang grips the road and changes direction
Is it Mustang? Yes, but it is not a muscle car. A muscle car needs a V8 with a deep booming sound heralding your arrival, not something whispering for permission to come in. Having said that, buyers with an eye for value will like the 50 grand price. They will also appreciate the cheaper fuel costs which will go a fair way to compensating for them for a slightly less exciting experience. The user guide says 95 ron unleaded, but the fuel cap says the car likes e10 so guess what I used?
The thing I liked most was the single trim level is only differentiated by an engine. It’s not unusual for an auto maker to make lower powered models feel positively poverty stricken. There are a few other mechanical changes but none you’d notice. The cabin feels as cosy as the muscular twin.
The only drawback to the V8 is her ferocious drinking habits. Conversely, the 4 cylinder will get aa mere 8.5L/100k, even less in the highway. There are no published performance figures.
Would I buy one? No, only the V8 will do for me.
Price: $50,553 drive away NSW
Engine: 2.3L turbo inline 4; 95ron fuel (but fuel caps says e10)