- It's a Mustang
- Poor economy
Matt Joy reviews the new 2015 Ford Mustang. Can it compete with the Euro elite?
One of the world’s most famous automotive nametags is back, and this time it’s something for us Brits to be excited about. Ford has launched its 2015 Ford Mustang, the sixth-generation performance car for the everyman, but for the first time in its history it will be sold officially in Europe and in right-hand-drive.
There’s a 5.0-litre V8 model plus a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder version using a unit very similar to that which will appear in the Focus RS. Coupe – or Fastback in Ford speak – and Convertible models are available, but we tried the most desirable V8 version with the fixed roof.
Creating a modern version of a design classic is something of a challenge, because it needs to balance recognisable design cues without being a complete rehash of the original car. Happily the Mustang in Fastback form hits the nail square on the head. Even a motoring ignoramus could tell that this was a Mustang; it has the menacing grille, the sharp C-pillar and the vertical tail lights which are signature features but it looks fresh and appealing.
A similar approach is taking on the inside, where the classic twin-cowl dash meets the latest touchscreen infotainment system and toggle switches. It’s a less happy mix in here as some of the materials feel a little cheap, but the truth is this is a cheap car.
The Mustang is a relatively large car, but its layout dictates that it is a 2+2 rather than a proper four-seat coupe. Up front the space is reasonable; driver and passenger have respectable head and legroom, while hip room is a little compromised by the large transmission tunnel. The rear seats are only really suitable for children or very short adults, as headroom is in short supply and the front seats are a little fiddly to fold.
On the upside the glovebox is a good size and there’s decent oddment space available in the cabin. The boot offers a useful 408 litres of space, too.
Performance & handling
Previous versions of the Mustang have been undoubtedly fast, but not always particularly sophisticated. This latest version won’t have Porsche and BMW quaking in their boots, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun.
The characterful V8 up front isn’t terrifically loud at low revs but chimes in with a tuneful backbeat when extended, and the performance is all there; 0-62mph is despatched in a rapid 4.8 seconds. The gearshift is meaty but quick and traction is good, although you can switch off electronic interventions. In fact the V8 version even offers ‘line-lock’, a feature that drag racers use to lock the front brakes so you can smoke the rear tyres to warm them, which tells you all you need to know about the Mustang’s attitude.
Handling-wise the Mustang is straightforward whilst being enjoyable. Its suspension isn’t rock-solid and very tied down like its European rivals, but that’s not to say it isn’t well judged; it grips gamely and communicates well through the steering. Of the three modes on offer Sport offers the most weight and suits keen driving best.
In contrast the 2.3-litre turbo version is a pale imitation. It moves it along smartly enough with the 0-62mph despatched in under six seconds, but it never sounds very engaging and doesn’t appear to steer as well as its eight-cylinder sibling either.
Economy & environment
The major downside with choosing the more desirable V8 version is old-school fuel bills. There’s little in the way of modern eco-technology to help other than a very long sixth gear in the manual gearbox, but even that can’t help it manage more than 20.9mpg combined and 299g/km of CO2.
The 2.3 Ecoboost claws back some ground here, managing 35.3mpg and 179g/km, and while that’s a significant saving over the V8 version, if you’re buying a Mustang because of fuel consumption then you may be missing the point.
Equipment & value
The Mustang is good value just on the basics with that mighty engine and the performance it delivers, but the equipment list is pretty generous too. All models get climate control, 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, leather seats, a nine-speaker audio system and the eight-inch touchscreen with FordSYNC system. Better still, in Europe all V8 models get the performance pack as standard which adds bigger brakes and uprated suspension too.
Ford claims the Mustang has a stiff structure and while the Convertible is clearly not quite as stiff, the way the Fastback behaves on the road suggests a good level of passive crash safety. As well as the multiple modes for the ESP system the Mustang has a clever new airbag feature called Active Glovebox, which cleverly expands to form an airbag in the event of an accident.
The Mustang in all its previous generations has been about (relatively) cheap thrills and the latest version sticks to the same much-loved recipe. Compared to some European rivals it is less polished but it is undoubtedly huge fun to drive and excellent value for money. It’s acceptable for every day use but is best-suited to pleasure than commuting.
The most obvious rival is BMW’s M235i which is close to the V8 Mustang’s performance. It’s much more fuel efficient too, but doesn’t have the same visual appeal nor the cache of that famous badge. The Audi TTS is on the money in many respects too and brings modern style rather than the more retro appeal of the Mustang.
|Acceleration||0-62mph in 4.8 seconds|
|Emissions||179g/km of CO2|