AS SPRING’S arrival offers salvation from the depressive effects of the cold, and life’s rollercoaster of emotion shows signs of levelling out, this bright-yellow companion has rarely failed to keep my mood cheery.
The colour helps, of course, but approaching the Ford Mustang GT’s handsome face and muscular hips each morning always adds some sunshine to my day. There’s a welcoming familiarity to clasping its door handle and hearing the clack of its slick keyless entry system, followed by the ‘thunk’ of its large frameless door shutting and the rustle of its window re-sealing itself closed.
Indeed, sitting low in the ’Stang is like being bear-hugged by a chunk of metal, reminding me that everything is going to be alright … even if we hit a telegraph pole sideways and test the MY17 Mustang’s 6.88 points (out of eight) for the NCAP pole test. Despite the media kerfuffle over a door unlatching itself after this severe perpendicular clobber, Euro NCAP offered a slight exoneration in its own words: “protection of the chest was adequate and that of other body regions was good”.
This brings me to the elephant in the room for any current Mustang – its overall NCAP score. Currently, the Aussie MY17 model rates just two stars, while Euro cars ordered from July 2017 get three stars (due to standard AEB, an active bonnet and other passive safety features due here with the Mustang’s 2018 facelift).
Alterations to airbags have reportedly since cured part of the problem and next year’s facelift will sport a lower grille and bonnet line for pedestrian protection. But the main issue is the rear seat for children in booster seats. “If we ripped that thing out of the 2018 car we’d get five stars,” commented a good-humoured source at Ford Australia.
The Mustang is a heavily style-driven coupe and delusions of treating it like an everyday four-seater are pure fantasy, kiddies included. That said, I endured a stint in the back seat the other day. A life-affirming Sunday cruise to Sydney’s Berowra Waters cafe with a Porsche-owning mate doing the steering was followed by a four-up strafe to test the Mustang’s muscle-car cred.
Wedged into the back-left pew, hands gripping the cushion between my legs, the Euro purists extended the hearty V8 and came away impressed with its chassis’ chuckability. Sitting stooped and hanging on for dear life, I was actually okay; I reckon a sub-180cm adult could endure a back-seat sentence for 20-30 minutes, even while being thrown about like a hacky-sack.
But it was the Mustang GT’s character that ultimately shone through. Even accounting its occasional driveline snatch, muffled steering, and fidgety ride, there’s something deeply likeable about this car – enough to make grey skies turn blue.
Baby’s got yellow eyes
In many other markets, the shark-gill-inspired slashes in the Mustang’s inner headlight sections act as its daytime running lights, but not in Australia. Apparently we have no specific design rules relating to the brightness or location of DRLs, but UK-market models do.
And because Australia’s Mustangs are European-spec, just like the UK’s, our ’Stangs use their yellowy fog lights instead as DRLs, radiating a touch of ironic ’90s car culture in the process. Hopefully that situation changes with Mustang’s imminent MY18 facelift.