WE’RE a bit late to the party when it comes to driving the new right-hand-drive, independent rear-end Ford Mustang, but better late than never, right? We snagged the keys to our very own pony car over Christmas and for the cruise up to Street Machine Summernats, so we had a solid three weeks with it – plenty of time to come to grips with the good and bad (mostly good) of the new Mustang GT.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- It costs $64,911
- The Coyote V8 makes 410hp and 530Nm
- It’s about as fast as an LS3-powered Commodore – it wouldn’t see where an XR8 Sprint went
- The six-speed manual is fantastic
- The 5.0L V8 sounds great but doesn’t produce much grunt low down
- Aussie versions of the Mustang don't have the line-lock function, apparently it promotes hoon behaviour
- Everyone likes the Mustang logo-shaped puddle lights
- Not everyone likes the cooled seats that make you feel like you’ve wet yourself (although Editor Telfo does)
- Random people will ask you about the car
- You will feel like a rock star
- It handles
- It does feel like a big car…
- …but the cabin is quite small and people don’t really fit in the back seats
- Great stereo, but I couldn’t charge my phone and use Bluetooth at the same time – I had to negotiate the tedious Apple CarPlay system instead
- During our time with the Mustang we didn’t drive into any crowds of people
Yes, you can buy a four-cylinder turbocharged Mustang, and no, it isn’t front-wheel drive like some people seem to think. But naturally, we drove the 5.0L Coyote V8-powered version with a six-speed manual. If you’re going to buy a Mustang, this is exactly the one you’d want, because the manual is one of the best in the business. The brake and accelerator pedal could be a little closer though for some heel-and-toe downshift action; maybe Americans have wider feet.
We haven’t driven the four-cylinder turbo Mustang, but I can’t imagine it being any better than the 5.0. While the V8 doesn’t make a whole lot of grunt down low, it punches hard past 5000rpm while producing an incredible note. The exhaust is a bit quiet, but the induction howl is magic.
If you listen to what the internet says, Mustangs apparently have an appetite for running into pedestrians, parked cars, light poles and pretty much any other static or moving roadside object. I think I’ve figured out why this is: The traction control is nearly non-existent. It will break the tyres loose and slew sideways with all the safety systems turned on, and if you’re used to any other modern car that makes it impossible to do this without putting your finger in your ear and rubbing your belly five times in an anti-clockwise direction, this can catch you off guard.
Out on the open road – away from pedestrians and large crowds to run over – the Mustang really is awesome to drive. They’ve ditched the solid rear-end design that the ’Stang has used since 1964 and adopted something strange and foreign called independent rear suspension. It actually works really well; the Mustang feels very sure-footed and planted around corners, like a sophisticated sports car. It does feel physically big though, so it’s more at home out on the open road than tight narrow-lane twisties.
Living with the Mustang you will use a lot of petrol, but I think you’d fall in love with the feeling you get from the driver’s seat. So many people stare at it, take pictures and are just genuinely intrigued by the big, red, angry-looking phenomenon that is the Mustang – even cyclists!
It just feels special; you sit practically right over the rear wheels, that long bonnet stretching out in front of you. Then you look down at the speedometer that reads ‘Ground Speed’ and see the aircraft-inspired toggle switches by the gear shifter, and by then the car has you under its spell. The Mustang absolutely nails the finer details.
Life post-Falcon isn’t all bad.