Evolution of an icon
Launched in 1965, the Mustang is the only original Ford model to remain in uninterrupted production during five decades of development and refinement. Cultivating a near-mythical reputation as the quintessential affordable American freedom machine, the Mustang has become immortalised in pop culture. Dealer principal for Ultimate Motor Group Ford, John Cross, told Bay Driver: “There has only been six generations of Mustang in all this time and this is the first designed from the outset to be right-hand drive”. Ford has delivered two body styles to choose from, the Fastback coupe and Convertible. There’s two engine choices, the 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo or 5.0-litre V8 Coyote GT – and two six-speed transmission types, manual or auto, says John.
Selecting this week’s Bay Driver was a no brainer, of Moto Revolution managing director Ryan Turner is a petrolhead from way back and is a self-confessed ‘speed junkie’. As the local Kawasaki dealer, his Waihi Rd store is filled with go fast boys’ toys – and when I invited him to meet me at Ultimate Motor Group to test drive the ultimate in big boys’ toys, the Ford Mustang, he actually beat me there. While Ryan has been riding bikes all his life, he is actually pretty talented on four-wheels too. He put the Mustang through its paces with effortless skill as we took the long way to Tauranga Racing Club for our photo shoot. Lucky for me he is a good looking bugger too and was even sporting a brand new hair-do especially for the occasion. “This is one of the best-sounding V8s I have driven,” says Ryan. “Just the way you always want an eight-cylinder engine to sound, with enough instant torque (530Nm) on tap to make six forward gears feel about four too many. I reckon second and fifth is about all you need.” Despite being a large and heavy-feeling coupe, acceleration was surprisingly rapid. It leaped off the line at the lights before Ryan and I even realised how forcefully fast through the gears the Mustang would be. However, after selecting sixth gear, with the engine barely humming above 1600rpm, we realised there is a bona fide grand touring character to this car.
The good stuff
All versions of the new Ford Mustang include the usual dual front, dual side, and curtain airbags – as well as dual front knee airbags, a rearview camera, tyre pressure monitoring, alarm, Xenon headlights with daytime running lights, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, satellite navigation and dual-zone climate control. It also gets keyless entry and start, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, leather surfacing for the steering wheel, park brake, and electrically adjustable front seats – which are heated and cooled – an eight-inch touchscreen, Ford’s SYNC3 multimedia and voice control system with emergency assistance, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and iPod connectivity and 19-inch alloy wheels. Additionally, there are illuminated sill plates as well as a ‘pony’ projector light that beams the Mustang motif on the ground at night when a door is opened.
There is space galore for front-seat occupants in the new Mustang. Seated in low-slung bolstered buckets, the driving position is excellent, aided by a handsome leather-clad steering wheel, clear analogue instruments, excellent ventilation, and sufficient storage options throughout the cabin. There are a myriad of analogue-looking digital dials for water temperature, oil temp, vacuum boost, and a host of other minor engine-related readouts, providing a classic Mustang look and feel.
Ride and handling
If you’re a fan of the similarly independently sprung FPV Falcon GTs, there is a real genetic similarity to the way the three-mode electric rack and pinion steering feels, turns-in, and communicates what’s going on below. It means the helm – though happily hefty in Sport – really does connect driver and car. There’s no denying the weight of this car – 1739kg – in the Fastback V8. But with quality Pirelli P-Zero 255/40ZR19 rubber up front and 275/40 tyres on the back, the Mustang’s suspension and ride absorption are outstanding. Firm but never harsh, with a level of springing you just don’t expect, the Ford walks the fine line between comfort and athleticism. Going for the GT V8 scores you bigger brakes – 380mm x 34mm ventilated discs and Brembo six-piston 36mm fixed aluminium calipers up front, 330mm x 25mm ventilated discs, single-piston 45mm floating iron calipers out back – different patterned alloys, and wider 275/40R19 rear tyres, as well as one of the sexist exhaust notes known to humankind.
Hard core Ford fans or American muscle car wannabe’s rejoice – this is the car for you. Be prepared to marvel at how refined yet raw and visceral the Mustang is combining thunderous performance with true grand-touring capability. With Ultimate Motor Group Ford also offering a three-year/100,000km warranty, with intervals at 15,000km or one year and rumours of two demonstrators available, there are plenty of reasons to book a test drive.
Highlighted specifications as standard
• 5.0L V8 with 306kW of power and 530Nm of torque
• Also available in 2.3L EcoBoost with twin-scroll turbocharger
• 6-speed transmission with paddle shifters (or manual)
• Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Traction Control System (TCS)
• Standard, Sport and Comfort modes
• SYNC3 voice activated control system with 8” colour LCD touch screen
• Fords MyKey technology
• 19” alloy wheels
• RRP from $59,880 + ORC (2.3L EcoBoost – Auto)
Ultimate Motor Group Ford 150 Hewletts Rd, Mount Maunganui Ph 07-579 0180