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Driven: Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.

Driven: Ford Mustang55 Edition
A celebratory model of the American classic turns out to be the finest Ford Mustang yet.

   



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Ford Mustang55 Edition

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: the best all-round Mustang we've driven yet, especially in bright orange with black detailing and that spoiler on the back

Not so good: still not the most delicate performance car in the world, getting pricey these days

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Mustang55 Edition Coupe
Price: Mustang range from 39,420; 55 Edition Coupe from 46,185, car as tested 48,985
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 268g/km (VED Band Over 255g/km: 2,175 in year one, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 28.2mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
Power: 450hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 533Nm at 4,600rpm
Boot space: 408 litres

Our view:

We've driven quite a few Mustangs since Ford finally did the honourable thing and, after a wait of half a century, brought the big legend over to Europe. We've driven the Bullitt special, with its phenomenally cool Dark Highland Green paintwork and perhaps slightly less cool exterior graphics, plus the obvious questionable connections to Steve McQueen - who was, um, not the most salubrious of fellows in real life, let's put it that way. We've also driven the fun-but-flawed Convertible model and the one with a four-cylinder engine too, which is perfectly fine but not really a 'true' Mustang without that V8 burble. Even doing a poor homage to Route 66 from Newark to Huddersfield couldn't persuade us to side with the undoubted merits of the 2.3-litre version.

This one, though... this one's different. Judged with our heart, we'd give this thing full marks. One week and nearly 620 miles behind its wheel had us completely smitten. It's the Mustang 55 Edition, or Mustang55 in Ford's preferred textual styling, and it celebrates (go on, guess) 55 years of the Blue Oval's 'Pony Car'. In essence, all it is underneath the window-dressing is a facelifted 5.0-litre V8 GT Coupe, with the same 450hp and 533Nm Coyote motor it has had since it was updated in 2018 (it had 421hp from 2015-2018). This one's the manual, so there's a six-speed H-gate unit to play with and a limited-slip differential at the back, but you can buy the 55 as either an automatic with the ten-speed self-shifter or a Convertible, making for four possible models in total; all V8s, natch, as this special edition is not available as a 2.3-litre.

The 55-specific changes amount to a set of 19-inch Black 55 Edition wheels, a GT front grille with a black Mustang logo (like all models of the sixth-generation icon, you won't spot a Ford badge on it, either outside or in), a black contrast roof (only on the Coupe, of course, and on models finished in black overall then you get silver roof stripes instead), and a unique set of decals as part of the 55 Edition Stripe Pack. Inside, it's pretty stacked with stuff, such as a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker, 1,000-watt Premium Audio System, Ford's dual-zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC), SYNC3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, climate seats (heated and cooled, mark you), a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a Ford KeyFree system with Power Starter Button, Adaptive Cruise Control, a rear-view camera with parking sensors at the back, MyColour ambient interior lighting, LED headlamps and a 12-inch digital LCD instrument cluster, among more.

Then there's the chassis kit. Yes, we're about to say that the 1,818kg Mustang isn't quite as sharp as some of its obvious European rivals, that it lacks for a certain degree of... finesse in the corners. But it's a long, long way from the softly-sprung, ill-handling barge its detractors would have you believe of it. Standard equipment in this department is pretty serious, with the limited-slip diff already covered off going hand in hand with six-piston Brembo brakes and this generation of Mustang's more advanced independent rear suspension. On top of this, 1,600 brings in MagneRide Adaptive Suspension (variable dampers) and another 350 equips the Large Rear Spoiler, in black, which perhaps brings in some more downforce. Frankly, though, we think that spoiler is well worth the outlay alone for the aesthetic pleasure it brings, as it balances out the rear of the car and gives the Ford some real purpose. As does the exclusive-to-the-55 Twister Orange paint (850). It looks stunning on the outside, time not having dimmed the Mustang's appeal one iota.

The final joy is the Active Exhaust. This isn't specific to the 55, of course, you'd get it on any V8 model, but as the crowning touch on a quite spectacular coupe then it provides a soundtrack to die for. Don't worry about augmentation and sonic fakery; the Mustang55 has the big-hearted, bent-eight singing voice that you dream about listening to 24/7. It sounds terrific at idle, it sounds terrific at low revs, it sound terrific in the mid-range and it sounds cataclysmically terrific as you swing the needle round to the 7,000rpm peak power output. For that fact alone, Ford ought to be commended; a supposedly lazy V8 which nevertheless revs willingly to seven grand. Remarkable.

Also, don't let anyone try and convince you the Mustang isn't quick, nor poised either. An on-paper 0-62mph time of sub-five-seconds seems entirely believable to us on the strength of its step-off accelerative force, yet the beauty of having a barrel-chested nat-asp 5.0-litre up front is that you're never having to work around turbo lag (no matter how minimal modern systems may make this trait seem, it can never be truly extinguished) and so the throttle response is immediate; anytime, anywhere. Even if you ask the motor to lug from 1,200rpm in fourth or fifth, it'll do it happily. Don't make it labour low-down, though, just to marvel at its astounding flexibility; instead, revel in spinning it right out and seeing just how well the Mustang can corral its sizeable output figures. This is not a car marred by rampant wheelspin nor unruly tractive behaviour - while it requires a degree of circumspection from its driver in greasier conditions, it never renders itself unusable and in drier climes it can properly fly across even lumpen ground.

The mighty powerplant is mated to a lovely six-speed manual gearbox, too, so eliciting pace from the drivetrain is a genuine delight. And then there's the handling. The steering's heavy and somewhat slow, but it's precise, consistent and actually possessed of some feel. The MagneRide dampers keep the mass of the Mustang well in check during faster corners, and the wheel control is pretty damned exceptional too. It's not quite as taut or sorted as some of the Teutons we list below, of course, but do you know what? We wouldn't say it was less enjoyable as a result. Actually, we'd say quite the opposite: it's not merely a weak defence of 'the Mustang's got character' when in fact we mean 'it's a bit kinematically rubbish', but rather it's the realisation that while it's maybe not quite as technically adept as the established competition, it is far more engaging to hustle along. You get the Mustang flowing right on an undulating road, you know fine well it's you doing the work and not a whole load of clever, unseen chassis electronics instead. An Audi S5 is nothing like as much of a hoot as this, it really isn't.

And the Ford is wonderfully refined when you're not on it. Brilliantly, the rich snarling of the V8 never truly dies away, even on a cruise, but of course it's not intrusive to have its murmurings reverberating around the cabin. Yet the ride comfort and the suppression of external noise contributors is truly superb in the Mustang. On long motorway runs, with its hearty V8 doling out great gobs of torque to ensure you never need once drop the 'box out of sixth, even in those accursed SPECs-enforced 50mph zones on the M1, it simply burrs along effortlessly, swallowing up mile after mile in more comfort than we remember either an S5 or a Mercedes-AMG C 63 (a vehicle which has quite a lot of tyre roar) being capable of. And while the 5.0-litre's obvious weakness is its raging thirst, we'd happily take a cruising 33.4mpg all day every day to have a machine as utterly charming as the Mustang. It even managed 26.8mpg overall, which is hardly ruinous for the strident performance you're getting in return.

Honestly, the enthusiast in us completely detests our critical faculties for only marking the Mustang55 as a 4.5 out of five. We have to do that, because it's no longer the conspicuous bargain it once was (at 48,985 as tested, it's still cheaper than the Audi, BMW and Merc alternatives, but not by a massive margin), some of the interior finishing isn't quite as good as it could be (but we happen to really like the design and ambience of the passenger compartment), and mechanically - while it is undoubtedly far more polished than any Mustang which has gone before it - the Europeans its up against are operating on a slightly higher plane.

Doesn't bother us, mind. If you asked us right now which circa-450hp two-door coupe we'd have out of all the ones available in this sort of price range, we wouldn't hesitate for even the slightest of slight seconds to choose the Ford Mustang55 Edition. It took 50 years for it to arrive on these shores and 55 years for it to be fettled into its finest form yet, but this V8 hunk of goodness is a proper thoroughbred and therefore entirely worth the agonising wait. It's a quite spectacular performance car that you ought to buy now while you still can, because vehicles of its exceptional ilk will not be on this Earth for much longer. More's the pity.

Alternatives:

Audi RS 5: another one of those underwhelming Audi RS models. Has a stonking engine and all the traction/grip in the world, plus a lovely cabin. And yet, we'd rather have the Mustang. However, we've got a solution to the RS 5 and it involves two extra doors... more on this subject soon.

BMW M440i xDrive: we mean, you could buy one of these instead of a Mustang Coupe, if you wanted. But then you'd have to continually look at its stupid face and keep trying to desperately convince yourself that 'it's not that bad, really, especially because I specified it in all black'. Avoid.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe: you'll want one of these V8-powered Mercs to rival the sonic pleasures of the Ford. But then you'll look at the price tag with a few options and most likely end up with the 390hp, V6-propelled C 43 instead. Buy the Mustang.


Matt Robinson - 5 Nov 2020



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2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.

2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.2020 Ford Mustang55 Edition. Image by Ford.








 

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