Hi, car fans! If you’re like me, suffering Top Gear withdrawal (and bored while waiting for the presenters’ new Amazon series), you can get your regular fix here. Starting today, your very own self-confessed incurable petrolhead (name’s James, hi!) will be blogging about top new car trends, releases, events, and cool road-trips to try. Let the journey begin, as I find out why the new Ford Mustang is worth all the fuss.
I’m sure you’d agree, some special editions of iconic car models look fantastic but don’t always have significant changes made to their spec. Thankfully, Ford have seen fit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang – their contribution to the muscle car field – in a much grander and more useful fashion. For the first time in its history, Ford are manufacturing their all-new Mustang with its steering wheel on the correct side, and are selling it outside of North America. Rule Britannia (and 195 other countries)!
What the heck is a ‘muscle car’?
Historically, the best definition would be: “A morbidly obese sports car that can’t go round corners”. Okay, that may be a bit harsh, but it’s rooted in truth. For Europeans and Japanese, a sports car is lightweight, low, powerful, and above all, nimble. After all, it’s in the corners where the race is won. But Americans don’t have quite the same concept of ‘sportiness’ in their automobiles. They like them to be big, go fast in straight lines, and to roar like a lion. If the suspension is lifted straight from a knackered mattress, so be it. The Mustang itself started out life in 1965 as a relatively sleek 2+2, but over the next decade, dubious design decisions caused it to become bulkier, with less good handling. It then went through various streamlining revisions over the next four decades, and in recent years has faced competition from the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. But the Mustang is the first, and so far only one, to cross the Atlantic.
Why do I want this in my life?
Quite simply, it offers a lot of vroom for your money – the performance figures speak for themselves. Even the less powerful model has a 310bhp 2.3 litre ‘EcoBoost’ engine, enough to propel it from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds, yet costs less than £30k. You’ll pay closer to £40k for the base models of its German competitors, the Audi A5 and the BMW 4-Series. The Mustang even comes pretty well specced in its base configuration, with grippy leather seats, an 8-inch touch-screen control centre, lots of jazzy LED lighting, and more speakers than your house. Contrast this with trying to spec up the Germans to a civilised level – “Oh, you want an FM radio? £500. You want a headrest? £300. For the passenger too? £800.” The EcoBoost (which admittedly sounds more like something you’d find on your washing machine than on a 310bhp beast) is indeed relatively ‘Eco’, returning 35.3mpg. But if you really want a true dose of Americana, consider the very reasonable £4k upgrade to the full-fat 5.0L V8 engine, which boasts a rather intimidating 412bhp, and will deliver this stampede of horses in a most acoustically dramatic fashion. 0-60 drops down to Porsche 911-worrying 4.8 seconds with this chap under the hood. Fuel consumption is a claimed 20.9mpg, but frankly if you’re getting double-digit mpg figures, you’re not driving it as Uncle Sam intended. Your remaining moral dilemmas are whether to go hard-top aka ‘Fastback’ or convertible, and whether to choose manual or automatic transmission. The latter decision isn’t as obvious as it appears at first glance (“manual obviously!”), as the auto option offers a rather snappy 6 speed paddle-shift to make you feel just a little bit like an F1 driver. Ford have even addressed the old ‘going round corners’ issue, by finally fitting the Mustang with independent rear suspension. And yeah sure, I know your Granny’s Ford Focus has had this ‘performance feature’ since 1998, but at least it shows that the Mustang is moving with the times. I reckon the sexy all-new Mustang does deserve its shortlisted place as a top-three contender for World Car of the Year.
I want it NOW!
Yup, me too! But don’t forget that while the Mustang is a thoroughbred Yankee, we’re still British and therefore love queueing. Since the order books opened, pre-orders for the Mustang have been stronger than Ford anticipated, with over 1800 in the UK so far, filling Ford’s order book until mid-2016 (the 5.0L V8 manual Fastback is the most popular choice). Can’t blame ‘em, myself – this stacked car is seriously desirable. So head down Route 66 to your local Perrys dealership and reserve your Mustang before all the other thrifty speed demons get in line. And hey, if you want a bit of fun while you’re waiting, check out Ford’s website to 3D-print your Mustang – it’ll be a cool scale model to play with until the real thing arrives.