GOES GREAT, LOOKS GREAT, THAT’S THE 2016 FORD MUSTANG… AND IT’S LESS THAN $50K. THAT, MY SCEPTICAL BLUE-OVAL-ENCRUSTED FRIENDS, IS THE NEW, AND VERY SEXY, FORD OF AMERICA ROAD-WARRIOR.
Sure, the EcoBoost 2.3 litre twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder under the bonnet is wrong in at least 27 ways, and at least four-pots less than “what should be there”, but it’s also so right. It's right because it works so well.
Nimble, light on its feet, beautifully balanced, this car will redefine what many may have expected of the new Mustang, and will re-align their thinking about the blue-oval brand. And perhaps even re-align their thinking about whether a V8 is really, really necessary.
Vehicle style: Two-door sports coupe
Price: $47,490 (plus on road costs and charges)
Engine/transmission: 233kW/432Nm 2.3 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel consumption claimed: TBC | Tested: N/A
It’s a damn shame, but all of the first allocation of 4000 cars to Australia is sold. Gone, vamoosed. And you, and me, we’ve missed the boat.
And will the next allocation be such a bargain for such a desirable car? The new Mustang looks so good – those hooded eyes, that bulging bonnet and that glorious fastback style – if it had three stoats running around in a cage under the bonnet, it would still sell.
We, here in Australia, get just two engine choices – the 2.3 litre EcoBoost turbo, and the cojone-swinging 5.0 litre V8. And there are only two body styles, Fastback and Convertible. Which would you prefer? It’s academic anyway, because they’re all sold.
Ford put us behind the wheel for a quick blat at its You Yangs Proving Ground. And by “quick” I mean “short”, but also quick, because we could, and because the licence-shredding devices were on the other side of the fence.
Not much of a test, but enough to get a reasonable feel for the car.
- Standard features: Heated/ventilated electrically adjustable front seats, leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel and handbrake lever, leather upholstery, keyless entry and start, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, power windows,
- Infotainment: Multi-function colour control screen with Ford SYNC 2.0, Bluetooth app-based functions, premium sound system
- Cargo capacity: TBC
First the interior. The seats are big and wide and comfortable, they grip nicely, and are easily adjusted for the right driving position. Both driver and passenger get electric lumbar adjustment.
The leather quality, perforated, finely-grained and neatly stitched, is thick and inviting, and feels like ‘real leather right through’.
The wide metal strip running across the dash is a bit heavy-handed, and a colleague commented it looked a bit cheap, but I quite like it. The dash and door tops – those tactile touch-points that can ‘make or break’ a first impression – have the right soft-feel, and the fit (on our pre-release cars) looked tight and nicely aligned.
The console is high, placing the gearshift right at hand (there were only ‘selectshift’ six-speed automatics made available), and the sports dials under the leather hooded binnacle are clear and easily read.
The leather-trimmed adjustable wheel, a little larger than you’ll find in a European sports coupe, sits nice and square to the driver and the feel of the electric assistance is good. It’s very light at low speeds, but firms and gives a good sense of the wheels when giving things a lash.
Back seats seem roomy enough, but we didn’t jump in there, and the boot, with a nice big wide access, has ample space.
The paddle-shifts at the wheel are tucked tightly in, but nicely placed at the finger tips for rapid up- and down-shifts.
We didn’t try the audio system, nor try to pair the mobile – there simply wasn’t the time nor opportunity.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.3-litre intercooled DOHC VVT turbo inline four, [email protected], [email protected]
- Transmission: 6-spd sports automatic, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
- Suspension: Independent front and rear, limited-slip differential
And, yes, it goes very well, but we might not have been surprised. Our testing of the 2.0 litre EcoBoost in the Falcon showed that it could easily run with the naturally-aspirated i6, and was only shaded by tenths of a second in the 0-100km/h dash.
This 2.3-litre turbo in the Mustang is a much more potent affair. In any language, 233kW and 432Nm are very reasonable numbers.
And those numbers can move the Mustang along with surprising eagerness.
A stopwatch will be needed at some later date to confirm the impression, but the ease with which it hit the old ton, 160km/h, when powering into the back straight at Ford’s Proving Ground suggest that the Mustang ‘four’ could keep a Falcon XR6 Turbo honest in a shoot-out (which is no slouch).
The sound is a bit bleaty and naff, Ford could have done a lot better there, but, shift the six-speed automatic into ‘Sport’, and it can be whipped through the gears via the paddle shifts at the wheel – it’s not DSG fast, but changes are quick and decisive (though it does change up on the limiter).
The sublime balance, however, is the strongest impression. That turbo-four is set well-back in the nose, hard against the firewall, and with the weight nestled behind the front wheels.
The result is a car that feels very light on its feet, and quite a bit less than the Mustang’s 1640kg weight. It doesn’t lurch when cornering, there is no kneeling to the outside front wheel, and it changes direction much more quickly and eagerly than its weight and size might suggest.
It also sits beautifully flat on exit. With the live-axle rear despatched to history, this new Mustang now feels like a ‘cross-Atlantic’ sporting drive. There is an alive feel to the suspension that is more European than US.
We’ll have to confirm those impressions on a longer hit-out, but this new Mustang would seem to be a genuine driver’s car, and not just another beautiful, but boofy, ‘pony’.
It runs on ULP (natch) and we feel like daft bunnies but we missed getting the fuel consumption reading (though the cars were getting a heavy work-out on the tarmac so the relevence of that number would be dubious anyhow).
This car will sell its nuts off… in fact it already has. It simply looks sensational, and whatever Ford Australia can get here will sell on looks alone.
The 5.0-litre V8 will be a must-have for collectors and rusted blue-oval devotees. But this one, the 2.3 litre turbo-four is the real surprise.
It feels like a sports coupe should, goes like it should, and is one the best lookers to come out of the US in many, many years.
And it will do what Ford Australia hopes it will do – it will bring those buyers who may be lamenting the impending passing of the home-grown Falcon sports sedans, back to Ford showrooms.
I’d certainly have one.