The arrival of the sixth generation of the iconic Ford Mustang isn’t just a big deal for America, this time it’s a big deal for UK car fans thanks to right-hand drive and a modern Euro-friendly downsized engine.
But forget living out those Bullitt fantasies for a minute: is it actually any good? Read on for CAR magazine’s Ford Mustang review.
A RHD Mustang coming to a Ford dealer near you? Well, I suppose it only took them 50 years…
The Mustang’s compact size means cars have been coming to the UK since the first one was launched back in 1964, but this time there’ll be no messing with import duty and VAT, or steering wheels on the wrong side. And no wincing every time you fill the tank, because as well as the expected 5.0 V8, which now produces 420bhp, there’s also a 2.3 Ecoboost four derived from the 2.0 in the Focus ST.
A four-cylinder Mustang! Joe McCarthy must be spinning in his grave.
Yurpeans seem to think every Mustang ever built was a fully paid-up muscle car with 10 squillion bhp from a flame-shooting V8, but in fact many of them were powered by meek four- or six cylinder engines and not remotely fast.
But this time the four-pot is being billed as a performance engine. Punching out 310bhp and 300lb ft of torque, it’s as powerful as the V8 was when the fifth-generation car launched, and will hit 62mph in around 5.5sec (around a second behind the new V8). That’s not bad considering the car must weigh the wrong side of 1600kg.
The reality is it’s been tuned purely for torque. It pulls hard from around 1500rpm and keeps pulling until 5k-ish, but there’s nothing at the top end, it’s a little laggy, and it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as a Focus ST.
It’s an effective engine, but compared to something like the Golf R’s motor, it’s nowhere in terms of fun. We don’t have EU fuel consumption figures yet, but expect around 35mpg on the combined cycle.
Click here for an interview with the Ford Mustang design team.
What about corners? The new 2014 Mustang does do corners, right?
It certainly does, and surprisingly well, though we’re talking competent and entertaining here, rather than anything that rewrites the rulebook. The electrically assisted steering isn’t particularly quick, but it’s surprisingly precise and gives a fair idea of what the front wheels are up to. But the big news is at the back, where the Mustang gets independent rear suspension for the first time since the early-noughties SVT Cobra range-topper. It absolutely transforms the driving experience. The ride is settled and you never have to worry about mid-corner bumps deflecting you from your course.
US spec base-model cars are rather soggy, but all Brit cars come as standard with the usually-optional Performance Pack, with its stiffer suspension and limited slip diff. Of the two, the V8 feels the more serious, although its tighter damping comes at the expense of a a chunk of ride comfort. The V8 is also the only one with enough grunt to let you indulge in lazy tyre-smoking antics.
But even the four-pot looks like it could smoke its tyres for three blocks, and I suppose that’s half the battle.
Ford Mustang design: inside and out
This is a great-looking car, one with enough Mustang cues to keep aficionados happy, but strong and modern enough to stand on its own. And this time the interior looks like it cost more than five cents to put together.
It’s more overtly retro than the exterior and apart from some lower dash plastics, feels like a quality construction. Shame about the rear seat space. The back of a BMW 2-series feels positively palatial by comparison, and the Mustang’s boot (not hatch, note) has an awkward opening.
In previous years, you had to buy into the whole Mustang heritage to justify one in Europe, and even then you had to put up with too many compromises. This time the ‘Stang is a genuine rival for cars like the BMW 2-series, VW Scirocco and Audi TT, but, sad to say, the Ecoboost is not the stand-out car in the line-up.
A 228i M Sport is roomier, matches it on price and performance, and will cost far less to run. If you can handle the extra running costs, the beguiling V8 (more rumble, more tyre smoke, more Mustang, and only £4k more) is absolutely worth stretching for.