Ford Mustang coupe
“The Ford Mustang combines old-fashioned charm with modern performance and is fantastic value”
- Fantastic fun to drive
- Huge performance
- Great value
- Lacks sophistication
- Ride slightly too firm
- Suspect interior quality
The Ford Mustang is the world’s most iconic and popular muscle car, but had never been officially sold in the UK until the latest version arrived in 2015. The Mustang has come a long way from the original version, too – it now goes around corners as well as it powers down straights.
Ford hasn’t forgotten the most important selling point, which has always been huge performance for not a lot of cash. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost model with 286bhp starts at around £39,000, while the Mustang GT, with a 5.0-litre V8 and 444bhp, starts at around £44,000.
For 2018, the Mustang received a raft of mid-life upgrades, most notably swapping the six-speed automatic gearbox for an advanced 10-speed transmission. The V8 power figure above also received a boost and there are new colours, alloy-wheel designs and a sleek new nose to help the car stand out.
If you’re considering one of the Mustang’s German rivals for a similar amount of money, you’ll be looking at a relatively low-spec Audi A5 or BMW 4 Series, with less power and road presence, but with better cabin quality. Some of the materials inside the Mustang don’t look as good as you’d hope, but they’ve been improved somewhat in the facelifted car, and at least its SYNC 3 infotainment system is very good and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The car might be cheap to buy but running costs are likely to see it lose out to some rivals. The V8 has high emissions, and while the 2.3-litre EcoBoost is better in that regard, fuel consumption is still high for both. The facelifted version can return 31.7mpg with the EcoBoost engine and a manual gearbox, while the thirsty 5.0-litre manual posts a figure of 23.2mpg and the automatic manages 25.2mpg.
Despite the running costs, we can’t help but pick out the V8 manual as the best Mustang. You might have to spend a lot on fuel, but if you want the authentic Mustang driving experience, it’s the only option. While the 2.3-litre isn’t a bad engine per se, the rumble of the V8 and its sweeping power delivery make it far more enjoyable.
While it’s an option in the USA, all right-hand drive cars get Ford’s Performance Pack as standard, with enhanced brakes and firmer suspension. The Mustang certainly feels planted, resisting body lean in tight corners, but the ride is also firmer than many competitors. Still, even taking its size and weight into account, the Ford is serious fun. Choosing the optional MagneRide adaptive suspension makes it even better, rounding off bumps for an even more sophisticated feel.
If you want it to be even faster, you can also dip into Ford’s Performance Parts catalogue, without invalidating your warranty. Options here include a Roush supercharger that elevates the V8's power to around 600bhp.
You can also choose one of the limited models offered in the UK, with the Edition 55 bringing black wheels, roof and racing stripes, along with an upgraded stereo, heated and cooled seats and improved connectivity. The Mustang Bullitt pays homage to one of the mosticonic movie star cars in history, with unique five-spoke alloy wheels and paintwork. It also gets a new air intake, throttle bodies and exhaust, sharpening its responses and producing an incredible howl under acceleration.
Look in the Mustang’s boot and it’s easy to convince yourself it’s a practical car, with room for two large suitcases, but the rear seats are cramped, with poor knee room making them virtually off-limits for adults.