The Blue Oval brand’s first genuine global Mustang has been a smash hit the world over, building on decades of pent-up demand for this muscle-car icon. But what’s good and proper for the US market isn’t necessarily so for Europe and Australia, hence why this MY18 version has spent some time at deportment and grooming college.
A higher-quality interior, moresafety features, more creature comforts, more technology and, in the V8 GT model, considerably more power make the restyled 2018 Mustang a better car all round, no matter how you look at it.
Read next: 2018 Ford Mustang GT review
But what has changed to make the MY18 Mustang so much better?
- Most of the things you see and touch inside this Mustang’s familiar-looking cabin are new, including the door trims. They’re now squishy, not rock hard, the centre console wrap has funky stitching, it’s the same for the dashboard trim insert, which is less cheap and putrid, and even the steering-wheel is now softer because it’s sourced from a cow’s belly, not its fence-damage-prone hindquarters.
- The MY18 Mustang’s fresh front end wasn’t prompted by pedestrian-impact regulations – quite the opposite, in fact. The designers’ word du jour was “sleek”, meaning a 25mm-lower bonnet height without the previous car’s muscular bonnet bulge flowing more obviously into the car’s front haunches, a 65mm-broader grille and a full-LED headlight arrangement, with the inner detailing inspired by an actual eagle’s eye. But with the lower bonnet sitting closer to the engine hardware, Ford’s safety designers had to work hard to get the Mustang to achieve its 78/100 pedestrian-impact rating.
- The new bonnet now has working air vents unlike its lumpy but vent-less predecessor, thanks to customer demand, and it’s made of aluminium. In an effort to reduce “bonnet flutter” on bumpy roads, Ford has increased the steel bracing and riveting underneath for strength, meaning the new bonnet is actually heavier than before.
- Both the 5.0-litre V8 and 2.3-litre turbo Ecoboost four (due here in September) have been upgraded for better driveability. But it’s the big-selling V8 that goes nuts on mechanical updates. A new direct and port fuel-injection system, a higher compression ratio, bigger-bore pistons taking capacity up to 5038cc, and revised heads with larger intake and exhaust valves means 11 percent more power and 339kW, while torque is up five percent to 556Nm. Ford has a new automatic transmission too – a 10-speed unit that costs three grand extra and does a terrific job mastering all those ratios.
- Both the GT V8 and the forthcoming Ecoboost turbo four get active-valve exhaust systems – a design that has filtered down the from the range-topping US-market Mustang Shelby GT350. This gives the V8 a much meatier, bassier note, and the Ecoboost - a purposeful “snarl” when your right foot is pressed. You can also select what level of exhaust noise you’d prefer: Quiet, Normal (which has a bit of a burble in the V8), Sport (which adds some serious thunder) or Racetrack (which is borderline gratuitous in both its sound and volume).
- MY18 Mustang introduces an “industry-first” feature that Ford calls ‘Good Neighbour Mode’. It allows you to customise the Mustang’s exhaust setting based on the time of day. You can electronically set it to ‘Quiet’ between, say, 6am and 9am, then have it switch to Racetrack after that, ensuring you don’t wake sleeping babies or grumbling locals when heading to the gym before work.
- The trickle-down effect from the supersonic Shelby GT350 has majorly benefitted the way the MY18 Mustang handles, steers and rides. An upgraded front suspension set-up with forged-aluminium lower knuckles and increased lateral strength not only means sharper cornering but also crisper steering and a more confident feel. And for $2750, you can option ‘MagneRide’ adaptive magnetic shock-absorbers, that adjust the damping rate 1000 times per second and make the Mustang feel much calmer over challenging surfaces. Brand-new tyres – Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S – developed specifically for the MY18 Mustang complete its impressive dynamic repertoire.
- Instead of regular analogue instrument dials, the MY18 Mustang gets a 12.4-inch all-digital cluster that can be customised in a number of different ways. There’s a rainbow’s worth of ambient lighting selections, as well as three different instrument layouts – Normal, Sport and Track. The digital dash also displays navigation information and has a ‘Mustang MyMode’ memory function that allows drivers to save their favourite drive settings (including suspension, steering and exhaust-note preferences) for each time they’re behind the wheel.
- Justifying its $4000 price rise over its predecessor, the MY18 Mustang backs that up with a bunch of fresh features, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, adaptive cruise control, auto-levelling LED headlamps with auto high-beam, and an upgraded 12-speaker ‘Shaker’ stereo, as well as the aforementioned trim-quality, engine and transmission improvements. There’s also some new-to-Mustang options for 2018, including OTT (for ‘Over The Top’) stripes in black or white for $650, a rear spoiler on the Fastback ($750), Recaro semi-electric sports buckets (Fastback only – $3000), 19-inch five-spoke forged alloys (GT only – $2500), and ‘MagneRide’ adaptive suspension ($2750)
- In line with recent changes to Ford Australia’s owner support, MY18 Mustang comes with a new five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, as well as fixed-price servicing, a loan-car program for when your car is in the shop, navigation updates (whenever they arrive) and a low-price tyre guarantee for those delightful Michelins tightly hugging each alloy.