Mustang On Manoeuvres
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The Ford Mustang has been around for over 50 years and whilst early examples still set the pulses racing, it would be fair to say that some versions are entirely forgettable.
Always a rare sight on UK roads, this all changed in 2016 with Ford finally offering Mustangs in European trim and more importantly in right-hand drive.
A long waiting list quickly formed with buyers keen to sample a little American muscle car action. Although available in convertible form, most UK buyers seem to prefer the stylish coupe and of course V8 power.
After two years on sale, the Mustang has undergone a minor makeover and this seemed a good enough reason as any to get behind the wheel once more. An eight-cylinder coupe was duly booked in and I sat back and waited.
Sadly the car that was due to head north had been previously loaned to SKY and although I had no objections, Ford thought it best not to send me a stickered car. The best laid plans...
Instead my Kona Blue test car came fitted with Ford’s four-cylinder 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, which also sits proudly under the bonnet of the feisty Focus RS. Power is now down from 317 to 290PS, I’m told to improve emissions and economy.
Headline figures show that the sprint to 62mph will take just 5.8 seconds (a second slower than a V8-powered car) and a top speed of 145mph.
In reality, the Mustang doesn’t feel this fast from rest unless you are especially brutal with the clutch or use the newly fitted ‘Drag’ mode...
However once on the move, the EcoBoost engine is rarely found wanting and provides plenty of power for fast overtakes and relaxed high-speed cruising.
The six speed manual gearbox has a delightful short throw and is a pleasure to use.
An all-new 10-speed automatic gearbox is available for an additional £1,600 but unless you are urban-based and I would spend the cash on the optional MagneRide adaptive damper system instead.
Missing of course from my test car was the delightful V8 thrum and whilst the smaller engine is a refined unit, it lacks any aural excitement which to my mind at least is an integral part of the Mustang experience.
Payback however comes at the pumps with the combined economy figure of 31.4mpg bettering the V8 versions by around 10mpg. I averaged 28.3mpg over 400 or so miles of mixed motoring.
Selectable drive modes come as standard in all Mustangs - Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet are now joined by Drag Mode and My Mode. The latter allows the driver to configure the engine, exhaust sound and optional adaptive dampers (if fitted). Sport was my default setting, suiting as it did my ‘press-on’ style of driving.
I would strongly recommend the optional MagnaRide dampers. They allow the driver to set the car up to the prevailing road conditions and adds a level of composure and precision that will be welcome.
There is always an underlying firmness to the ride, as befits a car with sporting intent but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Mustang dealt with stretches of pock-marked tarmac. The big squashy seats clearly helped too.
Motorway cruising was a relaxed affair with wind and road noise well muted.
Away from trunk roads, the Mustang can be hustled along a country lane with ease. Sharp steering and a nicely balanced chassis inspire confidence with only the car’s not inconsiderable girth spoiling the party on some the narrower lanes that make up my usual test route.
All Mustangs come well equipped so expect to find LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and six-way adjustable powered front seats.
There’s a new 12-inch infotainment screen which is both easier to read and use than before.
Adaptive cruise control is now standard and the Mustang’s safety count has improved too with pedestrian detection and pre-collision assist systems now fitted.
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Though material quality seems to have improved, the Germans need not worry too much just yet...
So after a hard-charging week behind the wheel, the burning question is did I miss not having a V8 engine under the bonnet?
The honest answer is yes of course. A Mustang seems incomplete without the sonorous V8 soundtrack, but missing was the sub 20mpg economy that accompanies that engine.
The sensible advice therefore would be to buy an EcoBoost engine car, especially if you intend to cover plenty of miles.
But when has a purchase of a car such as a Mustang been about common sense? So buy the V8, dent the credit card and have fun!
Ford Mustang Fastback
290PS 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine
6-speed manual gearbox
Kona Blue paintwork (+£595)
Price: £36,035 on the road
Price as tested: £39,025
0 to 62mph in 5.8 seconds
Top speed 145mph
Combined economy 31.4mpg (28.3mpg on test)
Emissions 199g/km CO2
Mustang On Manoeuvres, 13th August 2018, 12:48 PM