Comprehensive changes set the Mustang up more accurately for Europe
Three years ago, Ford of Europe decided to bring the Mustang to Europe. They weren’t sure how well it would do over here.
30,000 sales later, all doubts have been squashed. We’ve taken to the Mustang like ducks to water, and now we’ve earned an update.
Predictably, the iconic shape hasn’t been overly messed with: there are more colours, wheels and seat trims to choose from, but otherwise most of the changes are not the sort that you’ll see reflected in a High Street shop window.
There’s a refreshed and more powerful ‘Coyote’ 5.0-litre V8 plus a new 10-speed automatic gearbox, a bigger suite of active safety systems, steering and suspension mods, and new digital instrumentation.
Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT automatic
Engine: 5.0-litre,V8, petrol
Torque: 389lb ft
Gearbox: 10-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 1831kg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.0sec approx
Fuel economy: 23.3mpg
CO2, tax band: 270g/km, 37%
After a short drive at Ford’s Belgian proving ground, there’s no doubt about the enduring appeal of this chunky but always positively surprising coupé. The new drivetrain delivers a sub-four second 0-60 time in US-spec cars, albeit in the ‘rollout a foot before booting it’ launch technique more commonly practised over there. We weren’t given a 0-60 time for European models, but even from our brief exposure to the car it’s clear there’s been an enhancement to the car’s acceleration, the new auto proving to be an excellent aide-de-camp for the engine in ‘drag strip’ and ‘track’ modes. Your only task is to crush the throttle pedal and watch the ten-speed box shuffle though its deck of ratios, maintaining optimal power delivery in the process.
Some might say that the whole point of a V8 Mustang is being able to interact with it in a way that perhaps isn’t possible with an auto, but this automatic complements the manual option rather than supplants it. Manual shifting using the paddles could do with being a little quicker, but the auto does a decent job in ‘D’ and ‘S’ modes. It can notch down by up to four ratios in one hit when you poke it, and the changing in more relaxed driving is smooth.
So is the ride. Before, the Mustang was given to choppiness. This new one, with magnetorheological dampers, feels a bit less fidgety. There are new parts in the power steering system too, retaining the Mustang’s faithful communication of its weight and substance without obviously queering up the body control and balance.
Inside, classier cabin materials on the interior door cards, centre console and instrument panel hoick the Mustang up the premium ladder a rung or two. Quality-wise, you’re still making a compromise relative to the usual European suspects – the new 12-inch digital instrument screen is still some way behind the class best in terms of its graphical and functional sophistication – but spending £40k no longer seems such a stretch.
For many, the Mustang continues to offer a tempting in-your-face alternative to what they see as po-faced Euro-coupés. Its genuine sporting character generates a unique buzz, and it’s good to see Ford carefully polishing out the blemishes.
Apparently quite a few Ford of Europe engineers are being brought around to the idea of an automatic Mustang by the new ten-speed ‘box, but we reckon the manual is still the comfiest fit for this car. Despite all the overdriven ratios in the auto, its efficiency advantage over the six-speed manual is only 0.5mpg on the NEDC combined fuel economy cycle. For us, the economy boost would need to be rather more than that to make the automatic choice automatic.