Fast, aggressive, iconic: Ford Mustang GT 2018 review

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The Ford Mustang. The very name conjures up heritage, history and raw emotion. Since its birth in the mid 60s, it has offered up muscular looks, V8 power, and performance that is in reach of the working man. Despite its lengthy time in production, us Brits didn’t get the chance to buy a Mustang until 2015, a mere 50 years after it hit the motoring scene. Before then, if you wanted one, you would have had to import it – but not anymore.

You won’t need to import this one though, say hello to the face-lifted version of the sixth generation. Nor will you need a set of glasses in order to see it, due to its bold shade. This particular model is finished in a paint work called ‘Orange Fury’ – what a name that is. It’s a very loud paint work, which I really like, although it’s not quite as loud as the 5.0 litre V8 engine that lurks under the aggressively styled bonnet.

Tell me more about that V8…

Speaking of which, it’s about time I talk about said engine. As part of the changes to the new model, power has been increased from 418hp to 450hp. There’s also been a very slight increase in torque, which now comes in at 527Nm. So far, so good.

Ford Mustang GT
It’s a big ol’ lump with some big ol’ power

This power can either be mated to a old-school 6-speed manual, or a new automatic gearbox that has no less than 10 gears. Yes, you read that right, 10! Thankfully the model I’m driving has kept it simple; I’ve got three pedals and 6 gears on the floor – that’s right, I’ve got the manual, baby. Hook it up right and you’ll be able to smash 62mph in under 5.0 seconds and continue to a top speed of 155mph.

Ford Mustang GT
You’ll find no flappy paddles in here, thank you very much

The 6-speed manual feels great to use; it’s got a lovely short, mechanical action to it, and it feels like the perfect handshake. The clutch pedal has a satisfying heaviness to it, meaning that every time you change gear, it feels like you’ve done a set of calf raises. Drive this for a long time and you’ll have a left calf to rival Chris Hoy. Sorry, Sir Chris Hoy. The brake pedal also has a nice firmness to it, and the controls just feel like they’ve been designed for Chuck Norris – it all feels very manly.

Actually, I know a few facts about Chuck Norris, did you know, he’s the only person who can slam a revolving door? He also counted to infinity – twice. This car feels so manly, I’m surprised it hasn’t got a pair of testicles on the front grille. Actually, that would be stupid, that would be very good for cooling or aerodynamics.

Ford Mustang GT
The front end may look more aggressive, but it also serves a purpose – better aerodynamics

Speaking of aerodynamics, the new Mustang features a lower bonnet and a lower grille that has been tweaked to make the car slice through the air better, and also to help it look meaner as well. At first I wasn’t a fan, but the more time I spent with it, the more I began to appreciate the looks.

Is the V8 just one big, lazy brute?

As you would expect from the V8 engine, it offers a good amount of performance, but that’s not to say it’s lazy, and is willing to give the performance over with no effort. Although you can make progress pretty well without needing to ever venture near the redline, this V8 is naturally aspirated, meaning that the really juicy power is around 7,000rpm.

Ford Mustang GT
Don’t. Ever. Call. Me. Lazy.

The noise it makes is simply thunderous as well, it’s like hearing Lucifer gargle. The exhaust has active valves, meaning you can be loud and proud when the mood takes you, or you can use the Good Neighbour mode, which gives the car a quiet start up.

Ford Mustang GT
Don’t want to upset your neighbours? Don’t worry, Ford has got you covered

That’s very good if you don’t want to become the bane of your community. However, once you get out on to the open road, all you’ll want to do is to hear that V8 roar its heart out. It makes you wonder why Ford bothered to fit a stereo. It’s a stereo supplied by Shaker, which sounds pretty good, but it’s no match for the sound supplied by Ford.

Ford Mustang GT

Good selection of driving modes

As well as offering a new exhaust system, the new Mustang also offers a variety of driving modes; Normal, Sport+, Race Track, Drag Strip. Snow/Wet and MyMode. These all do pretty much what it says on the tin, but in case you weren’t sure, MyMode is basically Ford’s name for individual mode. This is where you can pick and choose what settings you like to best suit you. So let’s say for example, you wanted the exhaust loud, but the steering light – you can do that.

Ford Mustang GT
The car may be in ‘Normal’ mode in this pic, but it didn’t stay that way for long…

Speaking of the steering, even in its Normal mode, it offers a nice weight, but I like my steering on the heavy side, therefore, Sport+ is where I leave it as it feels bang on to me. It’s direct, offers a good amount of feedback, and is able to give the impression of the Mustang being nimble. I say, give the impression, because this is far from a light car. It tips the scales at around 1,800kg, so a Lotus Elise, it is not. Can you feel this weight when you corner? Yes, you can, although it’s not quite as bad as you think.

So it’s a Mustang that can actually corner?

In all honesty, yes. Ok, it’s not as poised as what Germany could offer you, but isn’t that part of the Mustangs charms? It’s a bit rough around the edges, but who cares, because it’s delivers V8 power at a price that very few can match. The interior could be a little better, but I’ll get on to that in a bit. Going back to the topic of handling, the Mustang does a convincing job of it.

You’ve got the optional Magneride suspension, fat Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres, meaning that the Mustang has got all the relevant credentials in which to offer a great amount of handling. And I don’t mean a great amount for a Mustang, I mean a great amount full stop. To help with this, the new model has got re-calibrated shock absorbers, the rear suspension has been beefed up and the thicker anti-roll bars have been installed as well.

Ford Mustang GT
Think a Mustang can’t corner? Think again…

The brakes also deserve a special mention, because they are simply fab. They are crisp and offer a nice amount of bite, although I have found them to be a bit grabby in stop/start traffic. To be fair though, this car was not made for commutes around greater London, although that’s not to say it can’t do it, especially if you get the Magneride suspension I mentioned earlier.

At a price of £1,600, it’s quite a pricey option but it will make the Mustang an easier car to live with, as it’s able to offer more comfort thanks to a system that is able to make adjusts thousands of times a second.

When you have the car in Normal mode the Mustang feels extremely compliant, although that’s not to say that in the racier modes your teeth will fall out. They may be disturbed a bit, but you would need to get your dustpan and brush you retrieve them from your footwell. On the topic of comfort, this car has the optional Recaro seats, which are…£1,400. They may look as about as uncomfortable as being used as Antony Joshua’s punchbag, but you’d be wrong.

Believe it or not, but I’ve covered a few fair motorway miles in this thing and at no point have I wished for standard seats in order to get be comfort. Could you a daily a Mustang? Most definitely, but I’d urge you to select the Magneride suspension option. However, even if you go with the standard suspension, comfort is unlikely to be your main concern – that will of course be running costs.

Yeah, about the running costs…

I think it’s safe to say that you’d have to be as mad a box of frogs if you were shocked that this V8 is thirsty, but in case you’re looking for some real word experience, let me share what sort of MPG I’ve been getting. On a combined run, I should be getting up to 23.3mpg, and to be fair I’ve pretty much hit that. However, in and around town I was getting, erm, 15mpg.

Ford Mustang GT

However, on motorway journeys I was able to get around 33-34mpg, so it’s not all bad I suppose. I’m clutching at straws aren’t I? As you would expect, it emits a lot of CO2 – 277g/km to be exact, so for the first year of VED you’d be required to pay – are you sat down? Good – £2,070. If you can’t quite afford this, and you must have a Mustang in your life, don’t forget you’ve got the EcoBoost version, which will not only be cheaper to run, but it’ll be cheaper to buy as well.

And that leads me very nicely on to price. For the EcoBoost version, you’ll be required to pay a reasonable £37,045, but if you want the ‘proper’ Mustang experience, you’ll need to hand over £42,145. The EcoBoost is able to offer similar features to the GT, but it doesn’t get the Brembo brakes, the active exhaust system, and of course, that desirable V8 engine. As a result Ford states that 70% of buyers are likely to opt for the GT version as opposed to the 2.3 litre EcoBoost.

Speaking of features, the Mustang is able to offer different driving modes, a new 12 inch digital display which looks very snazzy and is customisable, plus you also get adaptive cruise control, 8 touchscreen with Ford Sync 3 system, navigation, 6-way electronically adjustable front seats, heated steering wheel, keyless entry, dual zone climate control, limited slip diff, track apps and led headlights.

Erm, what about the safety aspect?

That’s all good and well I hear you say, but is it able to offer more safety than its predecessor, which scored just two stars from Euro NCAP? The new Mustang now features safety system such as pre collision assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and driver alert. This has only helped the car gain an extra star, making it 3, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Ford Mustang GT
The Mustang is not the safest car you can buy, but it is better than before

Is it practical?

Whilst, I’m on the topic of the less exciting stuff, I just want to quickly touch upon practicality. This car does offer four seats, but much like the Subaru BRZ I had a few months back, not many people will be able to make use of the rear seats. However, it does offer quite nicely sized boot. It offers 408 litres, meaning it should be more than big enough for your needs. However, there’s a good chance you’ll just end up using the rear seats as a secondary boot anyway.

With it being a sports car, there’s not a lot of cubbyholes inside, plus the cupholders are put in a place which get in the way of you changing gear, which seems like a glaring  – and unusual – oversight from Ford. Some of the interior materials also feel a bit suspect despite Ford’s attempt to improve the cabin, but to be honest, I’ll think you’ll be having too much fun to care. Thankfully, space for occupants in the front is good, plus getting a good driving position is easy thanks to a steering wheel and seat that offer a strong amount of adjustment.

Final thoughts

The Mustang has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1965. Thankfully though, it still retains a naturally aspirated and despite all the tech it has, it still has a whiff of a raw, old-school feeling. Is it the last word in handling? No it’s not, but I reckon you’d be surprised just how capable this thing can be when it gets twisty. However, once you hear that V8 powers up, you’ll fall in love – well, that is until you need to fuel it. Speaking of which, I best get to a petrol station…

Ford Mustang GT

Car Obsession Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Pros:

  • An addictive V8 soundtrack
  • Fantastic performance
  • Keen handling
  • More comfortable than you’d think
  • Iconic great looks
  • Decent amount of kit
  • Good value
  • Easy to live with (if you take running costs out of the equation)

Cons:

  • Unsurprisingly, it’s heavy on fuel
  • Rear seats are borderline pointless
  • Launch control didn’t work quite as well as I expected
  • Some interior materials are a bit suspect

Rivals

Chevrolet Camaro

Like the Mustang, the Camaro features a V8 engine and is currently in its sixth generation. It may not be a popular choice in Blighty, but it’s a little cheaper to buy, and it offers up more power. It will be a lot harder to buy though, thanks to a very limited dealer network, and it’ll be left hand drive only, which won’t be for everyone…

BMW M4

So you’re looking for something that will offer more luxury and sharper handling? The M4 could well be a better alternative, although it will cost significantly more. However, it won’t cost as much to run, but that’s because it’s running a straight-six as opposed to a V8, which could go against it for some buyers. If you can get past that though, you’ll have a car that is a great overall package and is able to tick a lot of boxes.

Lexus RC F

If you really must have a V8 engine and for whatever reason don’t fancy the Mustang, then maybe the Lexus RC F may interest you. Like the Mustang, it offers a displacement of 5.0 litres and it offers a similar amount of power. It will cost more to buy though, and the interior isn’t a nice.

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