Of all the cars launched in Australia over recent years, none has been as eagerly awaited as the new Ford Mustang.
With nine million Mustangs sold worldwide since 1964 and Ford Australia holding upwards of 6,000 orders since announcing it was coming to Oz, has it lived up to all the hype?
The Mustang is the second most recognised Ford, behind the Model T and the car that gave the brand its mojo. It transcends generations and genders like no other and finally, it was mine for a week.
No photos can prepare you for your first sighting of the new Mustang.
It is jaw-droppingly seductive from every angle and like nothing else on the road.
The unmistakeable coupé body, signature three-bar tail lamps, long bonnet, wide haunches, dual exhausts, crisp body lines, the pony on the grille and big black alloy-wheels shouts power and performance and give the ‘Stang an overwhelming presence.
Put simply, the new Mustang is moving art.
Whether on the road or parked, which was rare, the $57,490 (+ORC) afforded more attention than the entire Kardashian clan could ever hope for and everyone adored its muscular physique.
Inside is equally captivating, with superbly crafted retro chrome toggle switches and trimmings, a raised dash panel in front of the driver and passenger (circa 1969) large, round air vents and analogue instruments. Contrasting neatly is the leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel (housing 16 switches) and the Sync2 infotainment system, with its 8-inch touchscreen, that is one of the best and easiest to use in the business.
The plush, body-hugging, heated and cooled, leather sports seats have you sitting low, in true muscle car style, and you look out along the Mustang’s long bonnet with its pronounced character lines.
It’s roomy for two, but not four, the rear seats more token than useable. But the boot is big enough to fit a couple of Samsonite’s finest without much trouble.
Sitting behind the wheel brought back childhood memories and my bedroom wall, covered in posters of Allan Moffat’s Coca Cola Trans Am Mustang. I sat for a few quiet moments, closed the door and took it all in.
Hitting the start button the big 5-litre V8 burst into life, the exhaust burbling away as I paired my phone and music, adjusted the mirrors, seat and steering wheel and clicked in the seat belt.
Selecting first gear in the surprisingly light 6-speed manual gearbox, I trundled through the city, feeling like Steve McQueen searching for the bad guys in Bullitt, a movie that added to the Mustang’s legendary status.
Every now and then I prodded the throttle to give myself a taste of what to expect and ingest the throaty V8 roar, bouncing off the glass and concrete lined streets.
A few hours later I found myself on a flowing coast road and a perfect place to flex the Mustang’s 306 kW and 530Nm muscles. To fully explore the Mustang’s steering and handling and (first-for-a-Mustang) independent suspension, I selected ‘Sport’ mode.
Pushing the throttle the big V8 dumps equal doses of power and adrenalin from 1200rpm to the redline, its ferocious acceleration, bags of torque and limited slip diff fire it out of corners like a missile. All feisty thoroughbreds have to be treated with respect and the Mustang is no exception, as it willingly breaks traction if pushed too hard and is very lively in the rear end. And that exhaust noise is just epic.
What I was kind of expecting was a rock hard ride, dull steering and average handling, as by and large American cars have a reputation for straight line cruising, not attacking corners.
How wrong I was.
The big two-door coupé is set up with a firm ride but one that excels in taking dips, bumps, rail crossings and blemishes in its stride.
It’s wonderfully balanced, points well and is wonderfully agile for its size.
It hunkers down through corners, its big Michelin tyres provide massive grip, its Brembo brakes extraordinarily strong and the perfectly weighted electric power steering delivers loads of feedback. The whole package is both immensely rewarding and thrilling to drive again, and again and again and…….
You could be having the worst day of all time, but when you hop into the Mustang and fire it up, everything instantly becomes rosy. Guaranteed.
The Mustang is a lavishly equipped GT with dual zone aircon, sat nav, auto headlights, keyless entry, push button start/stop, aluminium pedals and SYNC2 infotainment system, including a 9-speaker Sound System with Amplifier.
Safety wise, it is equally well kitted with: MyKey – the car key that’s programmable to limit the vehicle’s speed, stability control, six airbags, including two knee bags, perimeter alarm, tyre pressure monitoring system and a rearview camera.
I loved the finer details of the Mustang, like the speedo being named a Ground Speed Indicator and the pony symbol that lights the ground under the doors, when you unlock it at night.
So….does it live up to the hype?
Absolutely. Which ever way you look at it the Ford Mustang exceeds the hype, by a long, long way.
And you can’t say that about many cars.