MY EARLIEST memory of a Ford Mustang is when I was 12 years old. One Friday afternoon, some friends and I decided that we were going to go and watch Gone in 60 seconds. After our moms had dropped us off at the cinema we had to lie about our ages because the movie was PG13. My one friend, Anthony, sucked at math so he ended up telling them that he was 11, his mom had to come and fetch. Apart from Angelina Jolie’s big lips, the other real star of the movie was Eleanor, a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. After the movie all we could talk about was Eleanor; I dreamed about her but never in my wildest imaginations did I think that 15 years later I would get to drive a Ford Mustang on South African roads.
This week I did just that; I drove not one, but three, different models of the all-new Ford Mustang around the Cape. It’s been two long years since Ford South Africa announced that they will be introducing the pony car into our market and finally the time has arrived. Over 170 Mustangs are headed our way and will be arriving at dealerships soon. Unfortunately, all of them are sold.
Why in SA now?
It’s a question that even Ford is asking. Close on 19 million Ford Mustangs have been sold since they were introduced many moons ago. It used to be an American specific model and if you wanted one you would have to import - a few made it to Europe and Asia. Ford has decided that its most iconic model ever, needs to be a global product as it is loved worldwide. I also think that the new Mustang is now able to compete with the European market, which includes South Africa.
I wasn’t a big fan of the reincarnated ‘retro’ Mustang that came out a few years ago. This latest model draws inspiration from the original Fastback design and it closely resembles its granddaddy. Several design features stand out on this new model… for instance, its low roof height and wide stance, its sleek profile and those famous three-dimensional tri-bar taillights. The new Mustang looks muscular and at the same time - for some angles - elegant.
For those wanting more headroom, then you could opt for the ultimate boulevard cruiser, the Mustang Convertible. This model is fitted with a soft-top multilayer insulated cloth top that gives the car an upscale appearance and a quiet cabin. The Mustang looks great with and without a roof as proven by the countless amount of attention it gets from camera-flashing onlookers.
Improved look and feel inside
I recently sat in an older Mustang, which I think was a 2004 model. The interior was not good at all. The dashboard was very plastic and it was a poor quality plastic. This new model on the other hand is worlds apart from that one. Ford says that its designers looked to aviation for inspiration of the interior. Behind the steering wheel the large, clear instrument cluster puts vehicle information right in front of the driver. The seats are also very comfortable and offer a decent amount of support and they’re also ventilated. Rear space in both the fastback and convertible is somewhat limited but show me a coupé in this segment that has room at the back.
Ford tech inside
Not only does the Mustang get the latest Ford SYNC infotainment system it also gets some other driving orientated technologies. Situated on the lower end of the centre console are various switches, which give drivers the option to alter things like steering input, transmission and electronic stability control settings. There are also various driver modes to suit your needs, which include: Normal, Sport+, Track or Snow/Wet.
Apart from the various driver modes, the Mustang also comes with Track Apps. These are systems that have been put in place to satisfy the cowboy in us all. The 5.0-litre V8 Mustang is also fitted with a feature called, Line Lock. This system applies only the front brakes, allowing drivers to warm the rear tyres, or in other words do a controlled burnout. I really do like this mode very much.
Power and handling
Ford will be offering the Mustang with two engines options: a 2.3-litre EcoBoost, which develops 233kW and 430Nm of torque and a5.0-litre V8, which is good for 306kW and 530Nm. The 2.3-litre will reach 100km in 5.8 seconds, whereas the V8 will do it in 4.8 seconds. Now I was worried that the 2.3-litre would sound and feel underwhelming but it actually doesn’t. Its little four-cylinder turbocharged motor performs well and it has a rather nice sound to it. The V8 on the other hand is a hoot to drive. This new Mustang needs to be a European competitor and Ford has spent a lot of time fine-tuning the suspension on the car. The results can be felt when driving the car. Both 2.3 litre EcoBoost and V8-powered GT Mustang models feature high-performance brakepackages behind 19-inch wheels as part of the Performance Pack, which is fitted as standard on all South African models. On the V8 powered GT models, six-piston Brembo front callipers ensure formidable stopping power.
I have waited many years to drive a Mustang and I can now say that I have. Was it worth the wait? Let’s be honest, the Germans do know how to build sports cars and although the new Mustang is sporty it’s just not German sporty. That said though, the Mustang will offer you something that not many cars at this price can offer and that is…character!
People recognize the Mustang everywhere you go; I felt quite special, driving it around. Seeing the reaction from young and old, men and women, is something that other cars just don’t give you. No other car has starred in as many movies or has been mentioned is so many songs as what the Ford Mustang has. Its desirability here in South African can be proven by the fact that you will probably have to wait until next year Christmas if you want one.