Hyped to the outhouse and back, the new Mustang has landed. So what’s it like? Pretty damn good, to be honest, and we won’t demean it by saying `good for an American car’. Because we don’t need to.
The five-litre V8 is sweet and soulful and has the torque just where you, I and johnny Lunchpail (your typical Stateside buyer) wants it. But it’s the Ecoboost four-cylinder that is the big surprise package.
Then again, with 233kW that shouldn’t be such an eyebrow-raiser, so it’s all probably down to mental hurdles. You know; the fact that a Mustang with a four-banger engine can’t actually be a proper performance car. That was then…
The six-speed auto feels a little hunt-happy until you put in is Sport mode, but you’ll want to leave the drive mode set for normal to avoid a too-sensitive throttle pedal. In any case, the six-speed manual is more satisfying if you can be bothered. It also seems to be better matched to the V8 which also happens to have a pretty fat note when you get serious.
The ride quality is better than we imagined given those big 19-inch hoops, but it’s the handling and balance that’s the real headline grabber.
Okay, on a race-track, the stang is still a pretty natural understeerer (either engine) but if you pick your entry speed correctly, it’s surprising how accurate it can be and how easy it is not only to get it to rotate, but also to feel the precise point at which that rotation occurs. The steering is good, too, apart from a slight dead-spot at the straight-ahead.
On the road, it does suffer a little from road noise on really coarse-chip stuff, but the ride comfort is good and the damping ensures there’s no secondary bump nonsense. There’s a slight lack of theatre from the four-cylinder turbo, but beyond that, the Stang is a pretty involving drive even if you’re just going to the fish and chip shop.
Our biggest grizzle would be the interior. There are some hard plastics and even though the centre garnish is actually aluminium, it adds mainly only glare and dazzle to the equation. And while the traditional Mustang dual-cowl thing still exists, there’s absolutely no hint (the dodgy chrome pony on the horn button aside) that you’re astride a Mustang.
The faux-chrome toggle switches are cheesy and impossible to read and there’s no digital speedo. In any case, you’ll spend more time looking out across that huge bonnet with its twin strakes and pretending you’re Steve McQueen.
Engine: 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v
Power: 306kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 530Nm @ 4250rpm
0-100km/h: 4.9sec (estimated)