Supercharging Ford Mustangs is all the rage at the moment, but from where I’m sitting it’s tricky to understand why you’d go to the bother.
Obviously 11sec quarters are pretty appealing, but there’s not much wrong with the way the standard car rips through the gears. The 5.0-litre Coyote V8 is a wicked engine, with ample mid-range urge that continues to swell towards 7000rpm, in the process delivering a satisfaction only achievable with a naturally aspirated engine.
If we’ve had a criticism previously it’s that the experience has been a bit muted, but thanks to Ford’s new range of Performance Parts, owners can now have their Mustangs belt out a bent-eight bellow courtesy of a Ford Performance 2.5-inch cat-back exhaust system with 4.0-inch tips in chrome or black ($3584).
Joining the new pipes on the dealer-fitted options list is the Track Handling Pack ($4130) and short shift kit ($805), all sourced from the extensive Ford Performance parts catalogue. Of course, a supercharger kit was part of the original plan before falling foul of local drive-by noise regulations.
Check out more MOTOR reviews
Nonetheless, according to Ford Australia President and CEO, Graeme Whickman, the upgrades go some way to “answering massive demand for factory-approved, fully warranted performance parts”. As you’d expect, our test car has the works, adding around $8500 to the $57,490 price, though that includes GST and fitting.
Of course, there’s no obligation to tick every box, just those that suit your needs, and the parts can be ordered at purchase time and fitted prior to pick up. When installed on a new Mustang the parts come with a three-year/100,000km warranty, but when fitted to a pre-owned ’Stang that shrinks to 12 months and 20,000km.
As you might have suspected from the opening paragraphs, the exhaust is a must-have, giving the Mustang the aural character it deserves. It might also liberate a few extra kilowatts, but regardless of whether the car is faster or not it certainly sounds and feels faster, which is arguably more important in the current motoring climate.
The short-shift kit is less compulsory. Ford claims throws are 19 per cent shorter, but they need at least 19 per cent more effort, too. For performance testing it would be very welcome, but for day-to-day use we’d stick with the standard ’box, particularly as the underside of the Ford Performance shift knob is irritatingly coarse; nit-picking, perhaps, however, it proved a constant annoyance.
The number of admiring comments from colleagues regarding the Mustang’s inch-lower (25mm) stance suggests the lowered springs, which can be purchased separately ($1260), are well worth considering, though this new stance would be best paired with some guard-filling rims. Despite the lower and stiffer suspension, ride quality has not unduly suffered.
Yes, it’s definitely busier and more reactive than the standard ’Stang, but there’s easily enough compliance to soak up speed bumps and the like without jarring. Ford Performance’s Track Handling Pack includes the aforementioned lowered springs, pre-assembled front and rear dampers, upper strut mounts, front and rear anti-roll bars, rear toe links and toe link-to-knuckle bearings.
Despite the name, the pack doesn’t turn Ford’s new Pony Car into a modern recreation of Allan Moffat’s Coca-Cola Trans Am, but it does have quite an effect on the Mustang’s handling. One of the most impressive aspects of the latest Mustang is its compliance and this softness prevents it being the rowdy power-oversteerer you might expect, at least in the dry.
In contrast, the Mustang Performance Parts loves a slide. It still feels heavy and over-eager entry speeds will wash the front wide, particularly in slow turns, but get the nose planted and even in third-gear bends corrective lock is often needed when cornering hard; knock it down to second and you can throttle-steer the car to your heart’s content.
Does that make it a better car? Not sure, but it’s masses of fun. There are criticisms: As with the Tickford 360 we drove recently, the suspension’s sharper responses exacerbate the slow, mute steering and our test car emitted an odd metallic, bearing-like noise from the transmission area under hard acceleration.
A consequence of the parts installed or almost 10,000 hard press kilometres? Whether or not these parts improve the Mustang and by how much will depend on what you’re after from your muscle car, but they alter its personality enough that you’d be wise to test drive a Performance Parts-equipped car before taking the plunge.
If you want to tweak your Mustang but find the aftermarket a bit intimidating, there’s plenty to like here – just choose wisely.
4 stars out of 5
Liked: More V8 noise; more hooligan; better stance
Disliked: Shift effort; odd noises; needs better wheels
Engine: 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v
Power: 306kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 530Nm @ 4250rpm
0-100km/h: 5.0sec (claimed)
Price: $65,990 as-tested