From $57,490 MRLP* (GT Fastback Manual)
If you look back on the history of cars, there are only a very small number that achieve ultimate Icon status. I’m not talking about a one off like the Aston Martin DB5 – I’m talking about every single generation of one particular car. Nissan Skyline, BMW M3, Toyota LandCruiser. But they’re all fairly run of the mill compared to the big daddy of them all.
Whilst it’s earliest beginnings weren’t so great, by the time it went on sale in on late 1964, it was destined to be a great. Even though the original 260in³ V8 only produced 122kW, in it’s first 18 months in showrooms, more than one million Mustangs were built. The iconic pony car was born.
Now, in it’s 6th Generation, the Mustang is better than ever before – and you can finally have one in your own driveway.
Engine and Drive Train
The Mustang is powered by the same 5.0 litre Coyote V8 that was found under the bonnet of the last FPV machines. Without the aid of a supercharger, the Mustang GT produces 306kW at 6500rpm and 530 Nm at 4250rpm – so it’s no slouch. The Getrag 6MTI500 6-speed manual shifts with the ease you would expect from a car thats been run in and will easily rocket you to licence losing speeds in seconds.
It’s a beautiful engine. From the second you press the engine start button until you turn it off, the sound is pure, unadulterated V8 noise. Every gear purrs and roars, depending on how much throttle you give it.
Unlike typical naturally aspirated Australian V8’s, the Mustang never feels like it’s lacking low down torque – such as what you would find in older Falcon’s and Commodores. Of course, the torque has to build up but the Mustang is geared in such a way that even a driver who doesn’t know the clutch from the door handle could drive it.
The transmission is silky smooth and the diff gives superb control to the rear wheels. Dump the clutch and it will rocket off the line; feather it and it will pull away like you’re Driving Miss Daisy. The Mustang is as at home at the limit as it is being an urban cruiser.
The Coyote V8 is remarkably economical. Bear with me on this. Yes, when you drive the Mustang GT as it should be driven – hard – it’s pretty rubbish. And whilst Ford claim a 13.1L/100km for the Manual GT, we drove 300km along the Hume Highway and saw the average fuel consumption get as low as 8.8L/100km. It should be noted here that the Mustang only comes with a 61 litre fuel tank – but the joy of the car makes that minor issue almost redundant.
There’s a reason for this. No, it doesn’t shut down a bank of cylinders or revert to an eco-mode. It’s actually buried deep within the mechanical design. Ford developed a new intake manifold that houses all new charge motion control valves. These allow the engine to partially close the port flow. This increases the air charge tumble and swirl, creating a better air-fuel mix. So when cruising at highway speeds and the engine is basically idling, economy is vastly improved. A by-product is lower emissions, so for all you greenies out there, the Mustang is a good choice.
Ride and Handling
Running on 19” wheels generally makes for a rough ride. But the Mustang contradicts that stereotype. You can select from 4 difference drive modes – Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow/Wet – as well as 3 different steering modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport. You can use these in any combination but what we found worked best was a combination of Sport+ and Comfort steering.
The Sport+ mode gives the Mustang better steering and throttle response. Whilst we haven’t confirmed this, it feels like the suspension stiffens up just enough to absorb the bumps nicely. Normal mode feels too loose and lightweight, so you feel like you bounce over uneven roads like you’re in a boat. Track is stiff but it’s designed for a perfect racetrack.
The steering is electronic, so achieving quality feedback through the wheel is hard. But Comfort seems to give the most natural response. We found Normal and Sport mode to have a minor flaw.
When cornering hard, the wheel felt like it would lock in place where it was turned, so realigning the steering would become a bit of a challenge. This inevitably created a few hairy moments.
But handle it does! After 50 years of jokes about American cars not being able to corner, we tackled the twisting mountain roads of Thredbo and Charlottes Pass with ease. Like, German sports car ease.
The newly designed completely independent suspension system keeps the car planted all the time. Not once did we feel any attempt of understeer, and, unless you forced it, the oversteer kept to itself. The power is there to have fun with, but when you want to gallop through twisting back roads, the GT will grip and go without question.
A large part of this grip is down to the new suspension. Featuring an all new double-ball-joint MacPherson Strut system at the front and aluminium knuckles at the rear, the whole system is lighter, yet stiffer than ever before. Ford have tuned it to specifically avoid squat, lift and dive forces which allow you to really push the ‘Stang.
But the other part is down to the huge strips of rubber at each corner of the coupe. The front wheels have 255/40 tyres and the rear feature massive 275/40. Coupled to the 380x34mm ventilated front discs – featuring 6 piston Brembo’s – and 330x25mm rear discs, you always feel like you are in control of the Mustang. It can pull up in a heart beat and hit any point of a corner you want to hit.
This isn’t an American coupe, this is a world class sports car!
The Mustang suffers from the same disease the Falcon’s do. Cheap plastic interiors. But where the later model Falcon’s just became bland and uninteresting, the Mustang does try and Macgyver it’s way out of it’s cheapness.
Taking styling cues from it’s roots, the interior is flush with retro features and hints that all remind you of the first generation ‘Stang’s. There’s even some subtle hints to the WWII fighter planes that inspired the name.
From the second you step into the cabin, you feel the legacy, the love and passion the workers at Flat Rock, Michigan feel about the Mustang. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the passengers dash, where there is an engraved plaque reminding you how old the Mustang is.
The 8” touch screen is new, but below it the toggle switches shine with their polished chrome, enticing you to play with them. The gear stick is rounded and retro, the air vents are circular and haven’t been updated in years, but it all works.
Then you get to the dash cluster. The rounded tunnels for the taco and speedometer hark back to the early days. The speedo reads in km/h and mph. Under the reading it states in proud capital letters, “GROUND SPEED”, reminding you this all began with a fighter plane.
But Ford haven’t forgotten that the Mustang has to remain relevant in the modern era. You get an LCD screen that showcases all the consumption and economy readouts. It also tells you your driving and steering mode. You can view a range of Engine Info options, edit your Driver Assist settings and vehicles settings.
Then there’s the Track Apps. You can view your lap times, g-force meter (measuring acceleration, braking and steering G’s) and best of all, launch control. Of course, these are not to be used on the road, only on a race track…
It has heated and cooled leather seats, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and auto headlamps. It is lacking some of the safety features you would find in cars with similar price points, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and lane keep assist, but if you rely on those to drive a car maybe your shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
There’s also a 9-speaker “Shaker” sound system, USB connectivity and 8 airbags.
The leather seats are comfortable and come with 6 way power adjustment. You can change the colour of the dash lights and the ambient lighting around the cabin. When you open the doors, puddles lamps in the shape of wild horses illuminate the ground and the scuff plates light up with the word, “Mustang”.
But the absolute best part about being inside the GT is when you press the engine start button, the 8” touch screen fires up with a galloping horse and you know, that you are sitting in one of the worlds greatest icons.
There is one minor flaw with the exterior of the Mustang. When you want to change the windscreen wipers, you will, without fail, scratch the paint off your bonnet. There is a pointed edge at the rear of the bonnet that blocks the wiper when trying to raise it. But it’s a minor issue which can be virtually avoided if you open the hood. But good luck trying to change the blade then.
There are a variant of colour choices, but which one you pick is irrelevant. Because no matter the colour, it’s a Mustang. The front is a blend of old and new. You can see the 1964 ‘Stang as clear as day, yet it echo’s the current climate of Ford’s “One Ford” mantra. It’s mean, angry and sharp.
From the back, it’s pure fastback. The wide rear arches remind you it’s a muscle car and the big GT badge on the boot shows it means business.
One of the best parts is no where on the car does it have the words “Ford” or “Mustang”. Just a Pony on the front and the “GT” badge on the back. People just know. And that makes it so much more special. Whenever you catch yourself in the reflection of a shop window, you won’t see yourself sitting in the drivers seat. You will see Frank Bullitt. What more could you ask for.
Starting at $57,490 MRLP* for the Manual GT, it’s an absolute steal. Want to add all the optional accessories? Here’s a breakdown:
– Prestige paint – $500
– Racing Stripes – $650
– Black Roof – $975
That’s it. The GT comes fully equipped. You don’t have to question whether it’s worth paying the extra for Sat-Nav, it’s just there. If you want to compare Apples to Apples, the Mustang GT sold here in Australia is a step up from the GT Premium you can buy in America, due to our model having reverse sensors and the Premium Audio system as standard.
Want an Auto? Just add $2500 – which is standard across the industry.
The Mustang is far from a perfect car. The steering issues and the cheap interior make that clear. But it is a Great car. And that is some pretty high praise – especially for an American car.
It’s a low cost, fast, grunty, loud and powerful alternative to an Audi RS5 or BMW M3. And I would pick the Mustang any day.
Why? You might ask. It’s simple really. And any enthusiast would be able to tell you why. A great car has soul, it has character, it has a voice. The Mustang is oozing with character and soul. As for a voice – well you can hear it coming from miles away.
Regardless of the 2 star safety rating – which is biased and frankly, stupid (we will go into that into an article shortly) – the car is a dream. It’s a car you could live with every day and it will, without fail, put a smile on your face. As we know, any car that can make you smile is a damn good car.
Overall Rating: 8/10
*MRLP – Manufacturers Recommended List Price. Includes GST. Does not include any on-road costs, government taxes, dealer delivery charges or registration fees. Please see your local dealer for pricing to suit your situation.