Five decades is a long time to wait for a car. Ben Griffin takes the 5.0 V8 Fastback out for a spin in his 2016 Ford Mustang video review to see if it was worth the hassle.
As a fan of American muscle cars, I was always a bit miffed the UK was never given a proper right-hand drive Mustang. Yet here we are in 2016 with a convertible and fastback and a choice of two engines, one of which is a V8.
Perhaps, as Jeremy Clarkson joked, Ford had finally found the UK on a map. Maybe it had been waiting for the British to tire of their usual German steeds. Maybe Ford stopped worrying an American car would be treated with the same disdain as American 'football'. A sport you play with your hands.
Whatever the reason, Ford now runs an international car exchange program of sorts. The US finally gets the Ford Focus RS and all the thrills of hot-hatchbacks. The UK gets the V8 rumbles of the 2016 Ford Mustang. A fair swap, if you ask me.
In some ways the delay was a good thing because we dodged the 2016 model's predecessor, which was much less stylish and lacking a multi-link rear suspension to name a couple of the many positive changes and additions.
Bet the interior is awful, right?
There has been a lot of criticism aimed at the cockpit but I can honestly say it is far better than the Focus RS in this area. Cheap plastics reign supreme, but you get nice touches such as 'ground speed' on the dials and airplane switches that elevate it above being bland.
Then there are the seats, which hug you and provide a lower seating position to add to the drama. In the Focus RS you are so high above the road you may as well be on stilts.
Boot space could be better and the 2+2 arrangement will be uncomfortable for anyone with legs fatter than pencils, but most people will be only too happy to sit in the back.
One annoyance is the fact the handle used to put the front seat forwards to let anyone out is also used for adjustment, which means unnecessary fiddling – there's no electric adjustment with memory function here. Or you can force everyone to get out of the passenger side and it becomes a non-issue.
What about that 5.0-litre V8?
As for the engine, the V8 an absolute treat. Noisy enough to delight when you want it to, but capable of quietening down when you want it to, with only a hint of artificial sound attempting to make it louder and scarier.
It runs out of puff as you hit the higher revs but by then you are moving forward very rapidly, which is somewhat terrifying in a car that weighs more than a P&O ferry. 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds is bloody quick, even if you have to work the gears somewhat hard to eke out every mile-per-hour.
Perhaps the biggest achievement is the fact the 2016 Ford Mustang does a good job of undoing years of the 'American cars can't corner' image. It has a planted nature, one that will understeer if you treat it like a small car, but those big tyres and the sheer bulk help stick it to the floor.
Then again, the Mustang encourages you to tackle corners with the rear wheels spinning furiously. The former Stig, Ben Collins, went as far as saying it is the best stunt car ever and I can certainly attest to how easy it is to initiate sideways mode.
What about driving on British roads?
The biggest strength of the 2016 Ford Mustang the fact it is an absolute pleasure to drive slowly, which is a real plus in British traffic. It cares little about what gear you are in because the V8 knows it will pull you along without any fuss, all the while providing an engine note I never tired of.
The huge bonnet gives the impression the 2016 Ford Mustang is big car but in reality it is actually svelte for an American cruiser. A Jaguar XJ is longer, for instance, and its Germanic rivals are about as wide if you get the tape measure out.
Let's not dwell on physical dimensions too much anyway because the Mustang feels grand. It is unashamedly macho and everything from the engine noise and the huge door mirrors to the chunky steering wheel and brutish front-end makes every drive feel like an occasion.
Steve McQueen would have happily driven this version up and down the streets of LA, make no mistake.
As for how people react to it, I've never had so many waves and thumbs-ups from onlookers. People love how ridiculous it is and although it looks expensive and shouty, it avoids saying you are Mr or Mrs Loadsa Money. Buying it says you love cars. End of.
So what is the catch?
Cars that emit over 255g/km will have to pay a first-year rate of £2,000 and only the 2.3-litre EcoBoost flies under that radar from the 1st of April 2017 onwards. Not only that, cars that cost more than £40,000 will have to pay a £310 supplement for five years and that is easily done with a few extras.
V8 motoring, then, is about to become more expensive than it ever has, even though the 5.0 engine can manage up to 30mpg. To anyone who has already taken the plunge, you should count your lucky stars and stripes because you grabbed yourself a veritable bargain.
Would you buy one, then?
Whereas the Focus RS left me wanting more and the Fiesta ST200 pining for the days of truly unforgiving hatchbacks, the 2016 Mustang made me want to go out and buy one. It is the biggest bargain of the year – with the BMW M2 a close second – because it makes every journey a joy.
Yet these words must come to a close on a sad note because it seems the 2016 Ford Mustang is likely to be one of the last V8s we get in the UK. What was meant to be a belated introduction to Mustang motoring is actually a farewell – and that is a shame when it only took Ford 50 years to get here.
2016 Ford Mustang video review