Ford Mustang review
New Mustang is on sale in the UK, and it delivers great performance and handling at a bargain price
The Ford Mustang is a terrific return to form from Ford, and the perfect flagship sports car for the range. It has striking, modern looks that manage to integrate some retro touches, so it’s instantly recognisable as a Mustang, while Ford’s engineers have produced a chassis that delivers great handling combined with a comfortable ride.
The V8 model is thirsty and some of the materials used in the cabin aren’t great, but you soon forget about that when you get behind the wheel, and with prices starting in the region of £30-£40k, those steep running costs are a bit easier to swallow. There aren’t many cars at this price level that can turn as many heads as the Mustang, while the great performance means it’s also something of a fast car bargain.
It’s fair to say that the name Ford Mustang is one of the most famous in the business. The original model first arrived in 1964 as an affordable sports car for the baby boomer generation, and the Mustang has stuck to a value-for-money performance philosophy ever since. It’s been in constant production since the sixties, and is a staple of Ford’s line-up in the US, although it’s only now that the Mustang is being officially sold in the UK as a fully homologated right-hand-drive production model. The sixth-generation Mustang arrived in the US in 2014, while UK sales began at the end of 2015.
There are Fastback coupe and open-top Convertible body styles, while two engine options are available in the UK, a 310bhp 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol, or a 412bhp 5.0-litre V8. The latter is badged the Mustang GT, and features extra kit over the standard car.
In addition, both engines are available with a six-speed automatic gearbox for £1,500 extra. In the US, the powerful Shelby models top the range, but these have yet to make their way across the Atlantic. However, seeing as demand for the standard Mustang is so high in the UK – there’s a 12-month waiting list if you buy new – Ford may well consider importing these versions at a later date.
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The Mustang is in high demand for a number of reasons. Firstly, the name is a big draw for petrolheads, as it taps into Ford’s sports car heritage. Secondly, Ford has priced it competitively, which goes some way to counter the steep running costs, especially for the V8 model.
The V8 GT is the cheapest V8-powered car on sale in the UK, coming in at £35k, which is around £20k less than the V8-powered Vauxhall VXR8 and Audi S6. Of course, these two are four-door saloons, and if you want a V8 coupe, you’ll be looking to spend at least £60k on a Lexus RC F, although it’s arguable that the Mustang is a better car to drive.
Sports cars that are similarly priced to the V8 Mustang include the BMW M235i and Nissan 370Z Nismo, while the 2.3 EcoBoost model has a price tag that puts it on a level similar to the Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport and top-spec Toyota GT 86.
In terms of Ford’s range, the Mustang follows the Mondeo as part of the One Ford philosophy of offering the same cars across the globe. That’s why it’s now offered in right-hand drive, and is being sold across the globe as the firm’s flagship sports car. It’s the only coupe it sells, although in terms of fast Fords, it lines up alongside the Fiesta ST, Focus ST and RS and new Ford GT supercar as the firm’s performance car range.
Engines, performance and drive
There’s an assumption that V8-powered American sports cars are fast in a straight line and hopeless in the corners, but the new Ford Mustang knocks that theory for six. An archaic live rear axle set-up hamstrung the last Mustang, but Ford has engineered the new model with independent suspension at all four corners, and the end result is a car that’s satisfying to drive.
UK manual cars feature four selectable driving modes - Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow/Wet - and these adjust the car’s throttle, steering and stability control settings accordingly. In addition, the steering has three levels of resistance, although feedback is a little vague in all modes.
On the road, the car’s suspension soaks up bumps, although the stiff chassis does tend to follow the contours of the road, but overall it’s a comfortable place to be. In town, the small windows limit visibility, but the controls are light enough that the car is easy to manoeuvre, while a reversing camera is fitted as standard to boost rear visibility.
On fast, twisty roads the Mustang performs admirably. It’s well balanced and changes direction quickly, while body roll is kept in check. Get on the power in corners, and the back end will squirm to get the power down, but switch the traction control off completely and you can provoke the car into slides relatively easily, while a smooth power delivery means it’s easy to control, made easier by the standard limited-slip diff.
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On the motorway, long gearing in sixth means the V8 is only turning at 1,800rpm, so there’s not much engine noise, although tyre roar is noticeable at speed.
Of course, the rumbling 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet is a big draw for buyers, and its performance doesn’t disappoint. Peak power of 412bhp is made at the 6,500rpm red line, and you have to wind the engine up through the gears to make progress - if you’re pressing on, you don’t need more than third or fourth for the best response, as fifth and sixth are better suited to cruising.
We tested the V8 in slippery conditions, which meant we could only record a best 0-60mph time of 5.6 seconds. The rear wheels broke traction easily in first and second gear, but Ford’s claimed 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds seems achievable if it’s dry. The manual shift is short and precise, while a launch control system optimises the car for perfect standing starts.
Ford also includes an electronic Line Lock, which is a piece of electronic trickery sourced from drag racing. The system fully applies the front brakes while allowing the rear tyres to spin up under power, letting you achieve smoky burnouts. The system shuts off after 15 seconds, although that’s still long enough for you to wear out a pair of rear tyres faster than you would in normal use.
Elsewhere, the GT gets six-piston Brembo brakes, and while pedal response is rather sharp, there’s strong power to get the car to a halt quickly.
The 5.0-litre V8 is the flagship of the range, and it makes 412bhp at 6,500rpm, so you need to rev it to make the most of its performance. There’s also 524Nm of torque on offer, and the broad spread of power means it’s possible to trundle along at 30mph in sixth gear with the engine turning at 750rpm without any trouble.
The 2.3-litre turbo EcoBoost engine is punchy, although with 310bhp it’s not as fast as the V8, although some buyers might appreciate the extra economy you get without sacrificing too much performance.
As it is, around 70 per cent of UK buyers are going for the V8 model, attracted not only by its performance, but also its V8 rumble. It sounds good, although it’s not as loud as a Jaguar F-Type, for example.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The Mustang range is priced in the £30-£40k bracket, and while that’s more than it costs in the US, it’s still good value when compared to rivals. The 5.0 GT is the cheapest V8 car on sale in the UK by the best part of £15k, but it’s also well equipped, with leather, climate control, a limited-slip diff, xenon lights and DAB radio all included. The only options are sat-nav, rear parking sensors, climate seats and a Custom Pack, which adds all of this and silver wheels, but even this won’t break the bank at £1,800.
If you want a car with a V8 engine, then the next cheapest option is the Vauxhall VXR8, and if you want a V8 coupe, then you’re looking at the Lexus RCF, although it’s arguable that the Mustang is more enjoyable to drive. In contrast, the 2.3 EcoBoost model is priced to match models such as the Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport or BMW M235i, although it’s bigger than either of these two.
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The big blot on the Mustang’s copybook is the expense of running a 5.0-litre V8. There’s no stop-start, so economy of around 20mpg is the best you’ll see if you intend on using its performance, while the lack of eco systems means emissions pump out at 299g/km, so road tax is at the top rate of £505. The EcoBoost is better, with claimed economy of 35.3mpg and emissions of 179g/km, but that’s still behind the Audi TT and BMW 2 Series. Add an auto box to either car, and emissions are made worse on the EcoBoost, but the V8 is slightly better at 281g/km, although that doesn’t improve road tax or company car costs. You get a 61-litre fuel tank in the Mustang, which means you’ll get a range of around 270 miles in the V8 model.
The Mustang sits in insurance groups 41-46, which is on the high side, but then if you’re happy to stump up the fuel and tax costs, then it probably won’t be too much of a concern. The V8 has the same Group 43 rating as the EcoBoost Convertible, which is lower than for rival V8 models.
One useful feature is Ford’s MyKey function, which allows you to set controls and functions to limit who can use the car, including setting a speed limiter.
Our experts predict residuals between 50-56 per cent for the Mustang after three years, which is good, but there’s currently a 12-month waiting list from the factory and speculators are offering lightly used cars with a £10k premium over list price to take advantage of the model’s popularity.
If you’re feeling brave, then you could jump the queue by importing a Mustang from the US. There’s a wider range that includes a basic V6 and the track-focused Shelby GT350 and GT350R versions, and prices start at $24,000, which is around £16,500. A V8 GT specced to match a UK car is around $40,000, or £27,000, which doesn’t include local sales taxes - if you’re exporting, you shouldn’t need to pay them.
Once you’ve found a dealer that will export a car for you, then you need to arrange shipping, which will cost from £1,000. Once in the UK, you need to pay 10 per cent import duty, VAT at 20 per cent, and then set aside at least £500 to get the car through Individual Vehicle Approval, which the car must pass before you can register it. Tot it all up, and you’re looking at more than £38k for the car tested here, although of course you’ll have a left-hand drive car. In reality importing is only really worthwhile if you want a Mustang model that’s not sold in the UK.
Interior, design and technology
American cars have a reputation for being big and bold, and the new Mustang doesn’t disappoint. The four-seater coupé is nearly as long as a Mondeo, but the low roof and wide track provide a sporty look.
It’s an evolution of the last model, yet while there are retro cues to the design, it still looks modern. Up front is a large grille with a galloping horse logo in the middle, while the small light housings either side emphasise the imposing front end.
A pair of sculpted lines rise from the long bonnet, and the blistered wheelarches add to the muscular look. There’s a low roof and small glass area, while the Fastback rear barely deviates from horizontal.
The tail-lights are set into a black panel with a big GT badge in the middle – a nod to the sixties Mustang – but lower down the body-coloured section in the rear diffuser is similar to the Fiesta ST’s. The V8 gets black 19-inch multispoke alloy wheels as standard, while going for the Custom Pack adds silver wheels in the same design, plus silver trim for the windows.
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Everywhere we went, the Ford turned heads, with its kerb appeal certainly matching the Jaguar F-Type. Our car’s Triple Coat Yellow paint is a £795 option, but even opting for standard red or orange will make an impact. Metallics include a vivid blue and a dark green to match Steve McQueen’s Mustang in the movie Bullitt, and you also have the option of adding black or white body stripes for the all-American look.
Climb inside, and there are more retro touches. The three-spoke steering wheel has a silver finish and a chrome-ringed Mustang logo, although the multitude of buttons on the wheel adds a hint of modernity to it. A swathe of silver plastic covers the dash, and there’s a ‘Since 1964’ plaque on the passenger’s side of the upright dash, while the rotary volume and tuner controls create a nostalgic feel. The rocker switches for the temperature controls are a bit fiddly to use, while the bank of toggle switches beneath the climate buttons are another nod to the sixties car, although again the big red-ringed starter button adds a modern touch to the controls. Ahead of the driver there’s a pair of deep cowled instruments – the speedo has the legend ‘Ground Speed’ emblazoned upon it – and between them is a full colour trip computer display that shows a comprehensive amount of information.
Unfortunately, it’s the interior that gives away the Mustang’s budget roots, and some of the cabin plastics feel cheap. The silver trim on the dash looks a bit low-rent, while hard plastics are used for the glovebox, centre console, door trims and the overhead light switches. Thankfully, the standard touchscreen and full-colour display is shared with the Mondeo, and goes some way to make up for the slack materials elsewhere, while leather seats are fitted as standard.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Mustang comes with Ford’s latest infotainment system, although sat-nav is an option that’s included when you add the optional Shaker 10-speaker stereo system. Bluetooth, DAB radio and a USB socket are all included as standard, and so is Ford’s advanced Sync voice control system. This allows you to make hands-free adjustments to the radio, phone and climate controls by pressing a button on the steering wheel to speak your instructions. This system works well and is easier to use than some of the fiddly buttons that pop up on the touchscreen.
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Pairing a phone to make calls and stream audio is a straightforward process, and you can set one phone as your favourite to automatically connect every time you get on board.
The optional Shaker sound system adds a subwoofer that’s set into the side of the boot behind the offside rear wheel. It doesn’t really reduce boot space, and adds some extra bass to the sound system, for those times when you’re bored of listening to the Mustang’s V8, although if you get tired of that, then you have no soul and this isn’t the car for you.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Mustang is reasonably practical for a sports car. It’s a long car, but that means there’s room for a pair of back seats and a reasonably sized boot. There’s more space than you’ll find in an Audi TT, although access to the boot is a bit trickier thanks to the narrow opening of the saloon-style bootlid.
At 4.8 metres long, the Mustang is nearly the same length as the five-door Ford Mondeo (4.87 metres), but it’s not as wide and a lot lower. Compared to rivals such as the BMW 2 Series and Audi TT, the Mustang is a fair bit larger, but that does mean there’s more space inside.
The suspension has been set up to deliver a good mix between handling and comfort, and unlike some rivals, the ride height is set so that the car doesn’t scrape over speed bumps.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Up front, access is easy thanks to the wide opening doors. At night, Mustang logos are projected on the floor by the puddle lights in the wing mirrors. There’s plenty of space inside and no issues with head or legroom, while a wide range of wheel and seat adjustment means it’s easy to get comfortable at the wheel. Forward visibility is compromised slightly by the long, bulging bonnet – it would be nice if Ford offered front parking sensors, but they aren’t available. The thick rear pillars and narrow rear glass limit the rear view, but a standard-fit reversing camera is a helpful addition.
There isn’t much leg or headroom in the back seats, so they’re only really suitable for small children. However, there is more space in the back than you’ll find in similarly sized coupes, like the Nissan GT-R. The back seats feature Isofix child seat mounts, but adding a child seat is tricky because access to the back seats is tight behind the folded front seats. And if you have fitted a chid seat, legroom is reduced even further.
The back seats fold 50:50 to improve boot space, which measures 408 litres in regular use. A high load lip and narrow opening thanks to the saloon-style bootlid make access to the boot tricky, but you can fit in a couple of medium sized suitcases pretty easily. There are no lashing eyes, but there is additional storage under the boot floor in the spare wheel well around the standard tyre repair kit.
The boot can be opened via a button above the number plate, with two presses of the keyfob, or via a flimsy button on the dashboard.
Cabin storage is reasonable for a sports car. The door bins are pretty good, and there’s a decent-sized glovebox, while the small armrest cubby is supplemented by a pair of deep cup-holders, although even a canned drink can get in the way as you reach for the gearlever.
Reliability and Safety
Ford has fitted a raft of electronic driver aids to keep the Mustang on the straight and narrow. There’s a multi-stage traction control system with different settings for road or track use, while the V8 GT model gets six-piston Brembo brakes for improved stopping power. All models get a full set of airbags, while a pedestrian-friendly pop-up bonnet boosts safety. The back seats come with Isofix mounts for child seats, too. There’s no Euro NCAP rating, and because the Mustang is likely to sell in low volumes, it’s unlikely to be tested by the safety body.
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In terms of build quality, the Mustang feels well built, even if the materials used aren’t of the highest quality.
The Mustang is available across the Ford dealer network, but that could be a mixed blessing, as its franchises don’t have the best reputation and placed 26th in our Driver Power 2015 survey. You might be better served by the handful of Mustang specialists that are dotted around the country – they will be able to service your car and maintain its warranty if you use genuine Motorcraft-branded Ford parts.
Like every new Ford, the Mustang comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, which is backed up by one-year’s breakdown assistance. That’s fairly average, and no better or worse than rivals which offer similar coverage.
Ford has yet to confirm servicing costs for the Mustang, but you can expect them to be cheaper than they are for premium rivals. Add in Ford’s vast dealer network, and it should be pretty easy to get the car maintained on schedule. Service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000 miles, which is a shorter distance between dealer visits than it is for some rivals.