AN ‘EVERYMAN’S’ car (or ‘every-person’ in 2017) is something that harbours appeal in all sectors of society, oblivious to race, gender, social status or upbringing.
The original Mini was one. The Type 1 Volkswagen was another. And you can add the sixth-generation Ford Mustang to that list.
Even in brash Triple Yellow, beefed up with black multi-spoke 19s, this Ford Mustang GT makes people happy. Kids take photos of it, adults want to talk about it, and other motorists regularly give me the thumbs up when I’m driving it. Hell, it even makes me happy.
There’s something about sitting behind the Mustang GT’s vast, bulging bonnet and hearing the rumble of its enthusiastic V8 that acts like a tonic for a rubbish day.
It’s a good-time companion; a bit rough around the edges, sure, but always up for some fun. And literally impossible to hate.
While this 4784mm-long coupe is the polar opposite of my old Holden Spark long-termer for manoeuvrability – 12.2-metre turning circle anyone? – the Mustang’s size somehow isn’t really an issue.
A wheel-twirling ‘Comfort’ setting for the electric steering certainly helps when trying to wedge it against the gutter (without kerbing rims) in Newtown’s narrow back streets, but its rear wheels are easy to place relative to those chunky muscle-car hips and decent-sized exterior mirrors help, though they don’t auto-fold when the car is locked (via touch points on the handles). Unless there’s a setting I’m yet to discover, the mirror-fold switch on the driver’s door needs to be manually pressed every time the Mustang is parked.
You do need to get used to the Mustang’s girth though. Unlike my other Ford – a gargantuan 1963 Galaxie with more glass than Centrepoint’s viewing platform – its proximities are hidden far from the driver’s eye line, and because you sit deep in the Mustang’s confines, at the mercy of its protruding front end, there’s definitely an initial feeling of intimidation that must be overcome.
But once you learn to trust the Mustang’s agility, and the purchase of its ‘integral link’ independent rear end (providing the 255/40R19 rear tyres are warm), it really does shrink around its driver. It’s a pity the Mustang’s steering wasn’t developed by Ford’s European arm. It has three settings – Comfort, Normal, and Sport – and so far I’ve used all three.
The first suits parking, the second is the most ideal for urban driving, and the third gels best when spanking the Mustang through corners, yet all three deliver a muffled feel that’s weirdly lacking in crispness and proper connection. I have a few other disappointments too.
The ‘Shaker’ stereo sounds a little confused, lacking in clear staging and genuinely meaty bass, and the Mustang’s six-speed Getrag ’box is a gritty, reluctant thing when cold (though quick and positive when primed). There’s also a fat chance of carrying adult-sized people in the rear ‘seats’ for more than a few minutes. Despite Ford’s claims, the Mustang isn’t a four seater – it’s a two-plus-two at best – though thankfully the rear backrests fold, usefully extending the Stang’s rather generous boot.
So for two people willing to embrace the Mustang GT’s likeable personality, there’s so much to like here. And in the coming months, perhaps more so when the sports exhaust, short-shift gearchange, and a few other Ford Performance extras now available through Ford dealers get fitted. But we’re off to a good start.
And I don’t even mind the yellow anymore.
Driven to drink
Parsimony is not the Mustang’s forte. A fuel consumption average of 16.5L/100km for its first 1000 kays disguises the fact that its first urban tank yielded a manly 24.8L/100km. Some highway cruising while on holidays brought the next tank down to 13.2L/100km, though I’ve rarely seen the Mustang’s trip computer drop into the 10s. A smallish 61-litre fuel tank also reduces range, though a very tall sixth gear (not really useable until at least 70km/h) attempts to compensate.
Getting the show rolling
My start-up process in the Mustang is as follows: clutch in (bless her cotton socks, she’s a ‘stick’), depress the start button, electrically unfold the mirrors, flick the Drive Mode toggle to Sport (for superior throttle response), then flick the steering toggle to Normal. Sounds laborious, and it is compared to simply jumping in and blasting off, but it’s a ritual that has become part of my Mustang experience, and will be until this baby goes back in six months time.