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First drive: Ford Mustang V8 Fastback. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford Mustang V8 Fastback
You could buy a 2.3-litre four-cylinder Mustang, but why would you when there's a V8?

   



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Ford Mustang V8 Fastback

4 4 4 4 4

Well, look at what we got here. A gen-yoo-wine Yankee V8 coupé, with the wheel on the wrong side so that some durned Yurp-eans can buy it.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 Fastback
Pricing: Mustang from £28,995; V8 Fastback from £32,995 on-the-road
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door 2+2 coupé
CO2 emissions: 299g/km (VED Band M, £505 per annum)
Combined economy: 20.9mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Power: 421hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 530Nm at 4,250rpm

What's this?

It's a Ford Mustang. For those who've been living under a rock, in a cave or simply without access to a television, magazine or the internet for the past 50 years, that means this is the latest evolution of the original 'Pony Car'. The first Mustang, launched in 1964, was designed to be an affordable, yet stylish sporty coupé onto which buyers could ladle their own choice of options - everything from special paint finishes to bucket seats to monstrous V8 engines and, oh yeah, maybe some disc brakes.

This new Mustang represents a major break with that half-century tradition. Why? Because for the first time ever, the Mustang has been designed to have right-hand drive and to be sold in very market around the world where Ford operates. The Pony Car has gone global.

Now, Ford isn't being daft - it knows that not everyone has an appreciation for big, growling V8 engines, so it has developed a turbocharged 2.3-litre petrol EcoBoost four-cylinder unit too, which develops a robust 317hp and frankly delivers as much power and oomph as you're ever going to need in a Mustang. It's the sensible choice. It's the Mustang you really could buy and use every day in the UK, once it goes on sale towards the end of the year.

It is not the V8, though. Ford may know that not everyone appreciates the V8, but equally it knows that without a V8, a Mustang really isn't a Mustang. This 5.0-litre, variable valve-timed V8 lifts the Mustang from Pony Car to Muscle Car. Peak output of 421hp doesn't sound like a lot from 5.0 litres (and, frankly, it isn't), but the Mustang weighs a relatively trim 1,700kg at the kerb, so believe me, it's enough.

Oh, don't worry about the interior. Yes, it has some deeply crapulous plastics and some truly nasty fake leather, plus the dashboard layout is a terrible mess, but it's comfy, spacious for two (not for four though - those back seats are hopeless) and the boot's big enough for a Trans-Continental touring holiday.

How does it drive?

Sideways, mostly. No, really. Even a hopeless driver such as myself, ham fists and all, can easily tweak the Mustang V8 into a truly delightful power slide, all delivered with a rolling bark of V8 backing track. Tweak the car's electronic control settings (accessed by a nasty fake-chrome toggle switch on the centre console) into Sport+ mode and hook second and off you go. A tweak of the throttle is all it should take, even on dry tarmac. It's not snappy or whippy or anything - in fact, it's remarkably well balanced, arguably better when drifting than it is when going around conventional corners.

Actually, when you do come over all sensible again and start to drive properly, you soon realise that the Mustang is actually much more of a bruiser-cruiser than it is a sports car. In dynamic terms, the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 run utter Germanic rings around it. The best way to drive the Mustang is to simply find a high-numbered gear in the meaty, six-speed manual gearshift (yes, manual, really) and let the torque do the work. The steering is surprisingly good - a little light at times, but actually quite good on the feel front and when you're not pushing too hard, the Mustang feels capable and faithful and eats fast, sweeping corners with delight, chewing them up and spitting out the remains into a wake of burbling eight-cylinder noise - the sound of pure freedom, with a side order of democracy.

Try a little harder and it all goes a bit wobbly. The suspension just can't seem to keep the Mustang steady in a really fast, tricky corner and it all starts to get rather vague and unsettling. Slow in, fast out is definitely the order of the day. Corners on roads are, after all, a Communist plot...

Verdict

Look, if you're being sensible, then there's no point in this. Most of the big European or Japanese car makers offer perfectly good, handsome, brisk coupés that are dynamically well-sorted and ideal for everyday driving.

They're not Mustangs though. It's a very curious thing. I know, objectively, that this is at best a middling-to-good car. The engine isn't right for Europe or the UK, it's a bit big for narrow roads and the cabin space is just silly. Plus any BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar is going to leave it for dead in anything but a straight line.

And yet. This is one of the most flat-out desirable cars I've ever driven. It's gorgeous, loud, fast and massive, massive fun and yet it's relatively affordable - who else offers a full-on 305-cubic-inch V8 for a shade under £33k? OK, so satnav and some other crucial toys are extra. OK, so it won't go around corners as quickly as a 428i. OK, so it's a little bit cheesy. I just don't care. I want to drive a Mustang with a burbling V8, a car that makes me feel like a superhero or a cop with just 24 hours left to crack the biggest case of his life. And now I can...

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

3 3 3 3 3 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 12 May 2015



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2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.



2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Mustang V8. Image by Ford.
 






 

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