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2017 Ford Mustang GT long-term review, part five

By Nathan Ponchard, 10 Mar 2018 Car Reviews

2017 Ford Mustang GT long-term review part five

Suspension and exhaust upgrades apply spurs to this pony

FR3-M8 sounds like the sort of made-up name a non-driving, non-car person concocts when attempting to pay-out jargon-talking petrolheads like us, always to zero effect.

But in this instance, of our beloved Ford Mustang long-termer, FR3-M8 is legit – the typically American naming code for the Ford Mustang GT’s Track Handling Pack.

All $4130 worth (including fitting) of lowered, progressive-rate springs, new front struts and revised upper strut mounts, new anti-roll bars, rear dampers, rear toe links and toe-to-knuckle bearings have done very good things to the Mustang. Firstly, sitting 25mm lower, it looks bloody tough, even wearing the stock black 19s.

 

And secondly, its springy ride and pattery wheel control have disappeared in favour of an ultra-disciplined ride reminiscent of something Renault Sport would produce. In other words, uncompromising but not uncomfortable.

As for the Ford Performance exhaust system – a mandrel-bent 2.5-inch stainless steel arrangement from the cat’ back – it probably should be standard on every Mustang GT. A cold start sees a luscious rumble as the 5.0-litre V8 spikes to 1500rpm or so, then as you pull away, the cabin is filled with the bassy exhaust meat the regular car’s rich induction noise has been crying out for in accompaniment.

Beyond 6000rpm, the difference between stock and souped-up is much less noticeable, the bigger rear pipes failing to free up much in the Mustang V8’s upper reaches. But given I drive AME-495 predominantly in the city, low- to mid-range muscle is what I’m all about. There’s little in the way of overrun crackle, though given there’s no tricky flap work, I can live with that.

The reworked suspension brings a significant reduction in bodyroll, though I don’t think the Mustang’s transition into oversteer is quite as friendly as it used to be. And while the steering has gained some firmness, it still lacks crisp feel to bolster this bruiser coupe’s dynamic credentials.

On an efficiency high note, sluggish holiday traffic and multiple roadworks on the Sydney-Newcastle M1 saw the Mustang’s trip computer display an all-time low of 9.6L/100km over the double-demerit holiday break. That’s what a lazy 80-90km/h in sixth gear will do to a V8.

The full tank ended up averaging 12.8L/100km (thanks to much blatting during Sydney’s blissful every-bastard-is-up-the-coast new-year period), and it’s unlikely the new exhaust will realise any worthwhile reduction in fuel thirst. But I no longer have to drive the Mustang as hard to gain some aural pleasure from it, and that’s surely going to make some level of difference.

What’s looming, though, is the return date for AME-495. And a long, indulgent farewell drive over the Blue Mountains to NSW’s western plains, perhaps with a Mount Panorama vista thrown in for good bogan measure.

Child’s play

My seven-year-old niece is in love. She asks me if I’m bringing the Mustang from Sydney, always comes out to greet it, and has even had a steer in it, of sorts.

Riding in the back on her booster seat to Caves Beach, oblivious to the two-star ANCAP rating (due to poor head protection in side impacts for kids in the rear on booster seats…), her giggles as I chirped the rear tyres on 1-2 and 2-3 shifts warmed my heart. As for my 10-year-old nephew riding shotgun; he couldn’t care less. Maybe you’re born with it.

Read more of our 2017 Ford Mustang GT long-term review