It’s taken fifty years, but the Ford Mustang will be officially on sale in the UK for the first time in 2015, sporting V8 and – gulp – four-cylinder engines. Crucially, though, the Flying Ford will be offered in right-hand drive and will come with proper, grown-up independent rear suspension.
‘In Europe we want it to be seen as a credible sports car, and second, that the Mustang and the rest of our range be held in higher opinion,’ says Ford COO Mark Fields. ‘The Mustang will turbocharge our turnaround in Europe.’
What’s the new Ford Mustang line-up?
The four-seat Mustang will be offered in two body styles – the coupe and convertible – both riding on the same 2.7m wheelbase. Styling-wise, there’re clear nods to the past, with the blunt nose and triple-taillights on each side at the rear, but the ’Stang has been given a sharper, edgier look as it muscles up Ford’s Kinetic design language. ‘In America, people have a reference point. When it goes abroad you can’t rely on that, so it needs to stand out,’ says the Ford design director Moray Callum. ‘I want people to see a modern vehicle and see the heritage, but not think it’s retro.’
>> For the full Mustang design story from design director Moray Callum click here
What about engines?
The headline act fitted to the Mustang GT is the aluminum-block, quad-cam 5.0-litre V8. The bent-eight will deliver 420bhp and a 390lb ft of torque through a six-speed manual or six-speed auto, and while there’s no Euro-specific tuning for the cars sold in the UK, the standard Performance Pack (an option Stateside) brings uprated suspension, bigger Brembo brakes and 19in alloys (instead of 20s) shod with summer (instead of all-season) tyres. Ford hasn’t coughed up any performance figures, but expect a 0-62 sprint of less than 5.0sec from the bent-eight if it’s to be taken seriously.
Of the other two power options in North America, Europe misses out on the 3.7-litre V6 but gets the direct injection 305bhp 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder instead. Cry foul, but the very first Mustang came with only a six-cylinder in base form – and it turns 50 on April 17 2014.
And that famous back axle?
More infamous than famous was the Mustang’s archaic live-axle rear end. Rivals like the Chevrolet Camaro ditched the caveman tech years ago, but the Mustang has persisted with it – until now. The independent rear-end is more expensive to make, but it should deliver a better riding and sharper handling pony car thanks to its increased stiffness and compliance. A limited-slip differential is standard for Europe’s Mustang, too.
>> Chief engineer Dave Perciak talks to Ben Pulman about the new Mustang
Actually, Ford doesn’t yet know – it’s ages before the Mustang goes on sale in the UK. Nissan’s 370Z (with a 323bhp 3.7-litre V6) starts at £27k but the better-equipped GT is £32k. With 305bhp and only four cylinders, £29,995 sounds right for an Ecoboost-engined ‘Stang.
The cabin sees the traditional ‘double brow’ dash in what Ford calls an ‘aviation inspired’ design (check out the Aviator sunnies left on the dash). All European models come with leather seats, with the convertible offering slightly more rear legroom than the coupe – which already has 100mm more then its predecessor. On the dash, the clean instruments are joined by paddleshifters for the auto models, while all get a start button and switches that alter the steering feel, throttle response and ESP.
What about a Shelby model?
Ford hasn’t ruled out a hero GT500 coming to Europe, with provision for the (currently) 662bhp 5.8-litre V8 to fit under the bonnet giving it a fighting chance. Combined with that new rear suspension, the more potent versions will be even better performance cars. ‘Shelby is a very important part of the Mustang’s brand heritage,’ says Fields, ‘And heritage is history with a future…’. While Ford’s playing it down, in terms of drivability, this should be – on paper at least – the best Mustang ever.
>> Is the Mustang’s arrival in the UK a landmark occasion, or is it 50 years too late? Tell us in the comments below