Car group tests

Ford Mustang vs Nissan 370Z

New four-cylinder Ford Mustang promises muscle and efficiency. We find out if it delivers as it meets the Nissan 370Z

It looks as if Ford is on to a winner with its Mustang. Dealers are struggling to keep pace with demand, and our drives of the UK-spec right-hand-drive model have shown that the bulging order books are entirely justified.

However, the big question still to be answered is whether it makes as much sense with forced induction and half as many cylinders. Purists may feel that fitting a 2.3-litre turbo EcoBoost engine in a car as down-home American as the Mustang is sacrilege, but on the other hand, it delivers nearly as much pace as the V8 and offers greater efficiency.

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To see how the EcoBoost model fits in, we’ve lined up a stalwart of the coupe class in the form of the Nissan 370Z. While it has only two seats compared to the Mustang’s four, it’s similarly priced, power comes from a 3.7-litre naturally aspirated V6 and, just like the Ford, promises to deliver rear-wheel-drive thrills.

We headed for some great driving roads to find out if the Mustang is still a winner in efficient EcoBoost guise.

Head-to-head

Performance

At the track, the more powerful Nissan was faster in the sprint from 0-60mph, but the torquier Ford delivers a broader spread of power for overtaking.

In corners, both models feel agile and grippy, although the EcoBoost steals a march with its more composed ride and sharper steering, giving drivers more confidence when pressing on. 

Badge history

The Mustang can trace its roots back to 1964, and the 370Z’s lineage started in 1969 with the Datsun 240Z. Both are now into their sixth generations, but while the Ford has been in continuous production, Nissan’s Z cars took a break from 1997-2002 between the 300ZX and 350Z.

Turbo first?

The EcoBoost isn’t the first turbo Mustang to be sold in the UK. Ford shipped the 2.3 Turbo Ghia here as a special import in 1979 and converted it to right-hand drive. Not many were sold, though, as it was slower and more expensive than the Capri. 

Verdict

First place: Ford Mustang

The Mustang wins as it offers decent handling, reasonable running costs and better everyday usability than the 370Z. However, it’s not without its faults. Standard kit is good but quality isn’t up to scratch, and the engine lacks character. If you can afford £4,000 extra, we’d choose the V8 every time; if you can’t stomach its running costs, the EcoBoost is a fast and fun alternative.

Second place: Nissan 370Z

While the 370Z had old-school charm when it was launched, seven years on it just feels dated. The V6 performs well, but it sounds unpleasantly strained and harsh when extended. And although the rear-drive handling is entertaining, the Ford is just as good and far more comfortable when you’re taking it easy. Factor in the higher price and running costs, and the Nissan loses.

Other options in this category

New: BMW 228i M Sport

BMW 2 Series coupe 2014 front

Price: £29,750Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 245bhp

There are few rear-drive coupes at this price, but the BMW 228i closely matches the Mustang. It does 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and handles well. It has less kit, but cabin quality is well ahead of the Ford’s.

Used: Ford Mustang Fastback (Mk1)

Ford Mustang Fastback (Mk1) - front

Price: £30,000Engine: 4.7-litre V8, 271bhp

You could have a classic Mustang with the famous 289ci Windsor V8 for a similar price to the EcoBoost. It’ll cost more to run, and finding an unmodified car will be hard, but you’ll likely be able to sell it for as much as you bought it once you’re done.

Figures

 Ford Mustang Fastback 2.3 EcoBoostNissan 370Z GT
On the road price/total as tested£30,995/£32,680£32,960/£33,235
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£16,675/53.8%£15,195/46.1%
Depreciation£14,320£17,765
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,957/£3,915£2,369/£4,739
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£2,076/£3,460£2,146/£3,576
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost41/£668/I/£23044/£722/L/£500
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£590 (3yrs)£219/£309/£219
   
Length/wheelbase4,784/2,720mm4,265/2,550mm
Height/width1,381/1,916mm1,315/1,845mm
Engine4cyl in-line/2,253ccV6/3,696cc
Peak power/revs313/5,500 bhp/rpm324/7,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs432/3,000 Nm/rpm363/5,200 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/rwd6-spd man/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel59 litres/repair kit72 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity408 litres235 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,655kg/N/A1,496/304kg
Turning circle12.2 metres11.0 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/7819,000 miles (1yr)/225
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.25th/26th (2015)28th/29th (2015)
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/AN/A
   
0-60/30-70mph6.3/5.6 secs5.7/5.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.0/4.2 secs3.4/4.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th5.3/7.1 secs5.1/7.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph145mph/2,250rpm155mph/2,600rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph52.2/35.7/9.0m44.8/34.7/8.2m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph72/54/65/72dBN/A
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range27.8/6.1/361 miles26.9/5.9/426 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined28.0/41.5/35.3mpg18.3/36.2/26.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined6.2/9.2/7.8mpl4.0/8.0/5.9mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket235/179g/km/32%243/248g/km/37%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£295/yesSix/yes/£366/yes
Automatic box/stability/cruise control£1,500/yes/yes£1,450/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/climate seatsYes/yes/£495Yes/yes/heated
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£595/yes/yes£550/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£795/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/£179/yes

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