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2018 Ford Mustang GT performance review

By Dylan Campbell, 07 Jun 2018 Reviews

2018 Ford Mustang GT performance feature

More power and more tech, has Ford made its ponycar even better?

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT sounds better, goes harder and is smarter than its predecessor with some properly cool tech, even if the interior fit and finish continues to lag behind the rest of the car.

But Ford on the whole has targeted the areas the Mustang needed improvement the most, and in doing so has turned its V8 ponycar from a good one to a great one.

The changes to the refreshed Mustang are far more than the brand new front styling, too, which includes new headlights, front bar, front guards and bonnet.

There’s an all-new 10-speed auto and all-new six-speed manual. There are now MagneRide adaptive dampers. There’s a new, proper bimodal exhaust and the Mustang now comes on stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. There are svelte new Recaro seats, a new 12-inch TFT cluster and revised interior materials. 

Power from the 5.0-litre third-generation ‘Coyote’ DOHC V8 is up 33kW/26Nm thanks to new direct injection, a higher compression ratio and more revs, outputs now 339kW and 556Nm.

View our 2018 Ford Mustang gallery

The price is also up. A base manual GT used to cost $57,490, it’s now $62,990. A lot of the Mustang’s fancy new gear is optional. Get an auto GT Fastback ($66,259) with MagneRide ($2750), the forged 19-inch wheels ($2500) and the Recaros ($3000), and you’re looking at a $74,509 car, before on-road costs. Still good value in the grand scheme of things, but it’s enough to cause some acute pain in the hip-pocket.

Ford would counter that you’re getting a much improved car over the previous model and truth be told, they’re right. The 2018 Mustang is a cracking jigger.

The exhaust has made a huge difference to the sound and if we were running an aftermarket tuning business, specialising in ’Stangs, we’d be stocking up on fewer exhausts. The 2018 Mustang GT, with its bimodal set-up, makes us grateful you can still buy a big, naturally aspirated V8. For a factory system, it sounds great.

With multiple exhaust modes available, in its loudest setting and at low speeds, it almost sounds heavily modified as it burbles around, making a noise like it has twice the power and a slippy torque converter.

It sounds raw in the upper revs, too, a proper nasal snarl. In fact, it sounds good at any engine speed, in and out the car, a strangely distinctive ‘Mustang’ V8 note. You won’t be confusing this car with any C63 or VF II SS.

Of course, there’ll still be people out there who crave more decibels or something else altogether, and for them, the aftermarket is only too willing to assist. But we suspect for a majority of people, the awesome new bimodal exhaust will be all the V8 growl and roar they want.

The new 10-speed auto is a bit of a game-changer for this car as well. With so many gears, it’s easy to get lost in ratios; it’s fortunate that this new ’box is so fantastically intuitive in full auto mode, as manual mode, with the paddles, was not very enjoyable during our brief experimentation. Left in auto, full-throttle upchanges are seamless with no interruption to the galloping acceleration, only an audible reference that you’ve gone up a gear.

And even then, some of the ratios are so close, with such a small drop in revs between gears, there’s an odd NASCAR-vibe to the way this thing sounds as it rips through its tightly packed cogs at full noise.

It’s also a surprise how many revs it has. Judging by noise alone, you often look down at the tacho to see you’ve still got 1000rpm to go. By big, fat, lazy American V8 engine standards, this engine serves up a lot of revs — 7400rpm all up, 400rpm more than before. Although you won’t be counting down every last scintillating rpm to redline in this car, as for engine performance, by 7000rpm the Mustang has more or less given everything it’s got.

The MagneRide dampers also much improve the urban usability of the Mustang and are a must for anyone intending to daily drive their car, bringing a new and delightful suppleness to the lower speed ride, even if past 100km/h you’ll still be very aware that you’re on a bumpy back road as by this point the dampers have shown you all their talent. 

In the cabin, the new 12-inch all-TFT instrument cluster is the new centrepiece and basically a new toy, with multiple interfaces indicating revs, gears and speed to match most tastes. The new powered Recaros, if you’ve got them, also help lift the interior, as do the new wrapped centre console and ‘door toppers’, no longer hard scratchy plastics.

Although it must be said, the Mustang’s interior, while contributing to the old school good times in terms of styling, continues to serve mostly a functional role in the broader Mustang experience by way of its general material mix and build quality.

Neither are anything special. To the point that the fancy new TFT screen and Recaros create an interesting contrast. If you’re coming from a European car, you’ll know. And to think there are even cheaper interiors in the base US cars...

In some respects, who cares, but at $75K, many will.

Of course, thanks to the extra ponies under the bonnet and the shorter initial gears, the Mustang charges even harder to 100km/h and beyond, and is a bit of a drag strip superstar, we found recently.

We’ve recorded some pretty impressive times during a big pre-launch drive. We’ve driven the new Mustang at length on Aussie roads for our upcoming July 2018 issue, which is where I would point you for an in-depth review on the car — including its handling — as the opportunities to get to know the chassis character of the new 2018 Mustang, at the launch, were limited.

It seems to handle much the same as the old one, and no comment can be made on the effect of the grippier – on-paper – new Michelin tyres as we skated about a slightly slippery Bend Motorsport Park track.

But what we can feel is that Ford has made a better Mustang with its changes for the 2018 car, which run so much further than skin deep. They’ve made improvements in the areas that needed improving.

Putting that spec sheet on the real street on MOTOR reviews

In fact, they’ve made a great muscle car, one that goes hard, sounds awesome, is terrific fun and now comfortable with some proper tech. Not only have they made a better Mustang, but they’ve made a better car.

Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming July 2018 issue for the definitive 2018 Mustang verdict. It’s on-sale later this month (June 28).

2018 FORD MUSTANG GT SPECS:
Engine: 5035cc V8, DOHC, 32v
Drivetrain: 6-speed manual/10-speed automatic
Power: 339kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 556Nm @ 4600rpm
Weight: 1681kg
0-100km/h: 4.3sec claimed (auto)
Price: $62,990 (manual)/$66,259 (auto)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

More on the 2018 Ford Mustang GT
Gallery: 2018 Mustang GT up-close
2018 Ford Mustang GT dyno test
- 2018 Ford Mustang GT drag test