Four wheels? America? There isn't an image that defines the two terms as much as the Mustang. It's THE American icon. It's been around for half a century and has sold more than 9-million units. The car has done so well for Ford in America that the company until recently didn't bother making a right-hand drive version. "Y'all drive on the wrong side of the street!" But with the sixth-generation Mustang, Ford decided it was time to give these long ignored regions a taste of American muscle. The move did wonders. The Mustang became the top-selling sports coupe worldwide in 2015. This also meant that the car was finally coming to India over 50 years after the original Mustang went on sale in the US of A. That, of course, meant that we just had to take the pony out for a spin. Which we did at a racetrack, recently. But what about the road? Now's the time we find out what this icon can do in real life conditions...
To me, and I'm sure a lot of you will agree, the original Mustang is the best looking of all. The Mustangs sold in the 80s and 90s looked nothing like the classic and were confused about their identity. Ford designers however brought back the retro styling inspired by the original fastback in the fifth-generation model. The all-new Mustang you see here is an evolution of this and continues to remind one of the original. It's classic, yet completely new. The angular headlamps are a lot sleeker while the huge front-grille continues to dominate the front end. The long hood gets prominent muscle ridges adding to that mean, angry character. The ridges however reflect the glare from the sun directly onto your eyes. Overall, the footprint has grown. So the car is longer than before. It sits lower, though, and looks like it's ready to leap when viewed from the side. The muscular haunch blends with the rear spoiler lip perfectly and the 19-inch wheels are finished in gloss black and feature a pleasing multi-spoke design.
The rear-end is one of the best examples of retro modern design. The tail lamps are a full LED unit but feature tri-bar strips that mimic the original. There's also a GT badge (since India gets the 5.0 V8) that sits on the centre section finished in gloss black. Twin-exhausts are standard while the diffuser is body coloured. The Mustang definitely stands out on Indian roads and looks great when viewed from any angle, a proper attention magnet for sure.
The Mustang's interior is a modern take on a retro themed interior. Quality of materials used however could have been better. Note handbrake lever on the outer side and cup-holders
It's the same story inside too. The all-black interior is inspired by a classic airplane cockpit and it shows. The toggle switches, metal and chrome detailing and the bucket seats are all classic highlights. It's unlike any other interior we've seen before and a nice place to be in. The only familiar bits are the headlight switches that look similar to the ones in the Endeavour. All the controls are well within reach but the toggle switches are hidden by the gear lever and can take some time getting used to. Quality of materials used, especially the hard plastics aren't as good as the competition and feel more like they came off a Ford family car. The Ford Mustang offers a 2+2 configuration so there are rear seats and they fold too. Unlike other European coupes, the seats offer slightly more knee-room and can just about accommodate a grown-up. Head-room however is low thanks to the sloping coupe roof. It's quite practical too - there are cup holders and the boot offers an impressive 320 litres of storage.
While a lot of us expected Ford to introduce the Mustang with a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder EcoBoost motor, the company decided to give us the heavy-duty V8 instead. There's no replacement to displacement especially in an Amercian icon. The 5.0-litre motor sounds angry and goes well with the aggressive character of the car. The V8 puts out 401PS of max power at 6,500rpm and an equally impressive 515Nm of torque. This is one of the few modern V8s that continue to be naturally aspirated. It's one of the biggest USP of the Mustang. Push the starter button and the engine comes to life with a loud growl. It's a unique engine note and very different to most modern V8s.
Steering offers various controls including cruise-control
We started off by driving through rush-hour traffic. The engine offers various drive modes (Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow/Wet) that alter power delivery. In town, it's best to drive in Normal mode. The large motor and quick throttle response took some time getting used to but we managed to comfortably drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic. The Mustang even gets a dual-clutch 6-speed transmission. It's tuned well and offers quick shifts. The engine has been specially tuned to offer better low-speed breathing at idle speeds. The car is usable in town which proves that the Mustang is a capable everyday tool. We were surprised by the car's touring abilities as we hit the highway. Triple digit speeds come up in no time and the engine is hardly stressed, the car cruised effortlessly too.
Toggle switches look great
Slot to Sport+ mode and power delivery changes drastically - best felt on an open road. Despite weighing close to 1.7 tonnes, the car hit 100kmph from standstill in 5.4 seconds! This is an impressive figure considering the car has been detuned for India to cope with fuel quality. Top speed is a claimed 250kmph. We couldn't take the car past 220kmph as the bonnet started to flap and threatened to lift up despite being shut properly. It didn't, but the sight was extremely unnerving. Fuel efficiency is pretty decent, the car returned 5.5kmpl in town and 7.8kmpl on the highway, translating to an overall figure of 6.1kmpl.
The Mustang is longer and lower than before, adding to the aggressive stance
401PS and RWD translates to easy burnouts!
While we haven't driven any of the earlier Mustangs, the current generation model is the first to ditch the solid live axle in favour of a fully independent rear suspension. Ford claims this has improved the ride and handling considerably. On our test route, the car did ride well over potholes and broken sections making it a great daily driver despite running on 19-inch wheels using low profile tyres. Ground clearance is slightly higher than the average sportscar, another positive for India. Out on the highway, the same suspension setup makes it a great tourer. However, the slightly softer setting makes it roll more than expected around corners. The car lifts up and nose dives noticeably hard acceleration and braking. While the V8 easily propels the car to high speeds without much effort, the chassis and suspension setup is better suited for laid back straight line driving. If you're looking for a car to go break some lap records, look elsewhere. Unless you like doing that sideways. The Mustang loves kicking its tail out. Laying rubber down while power sliding out of corners is its favourite pastime. Massive grins guaranteed.
GT badge is exclusive to the 5.0 V8 model
The steering though is slightly heavy for city use. It does get different modes (Normal, Sport and Comfort) to alter weight, but the fact that it stays slightly heavy even in Comfort mode points towards its intended use.
The Mustang comes loaded with all kinds of goodies - all available in the one variant that is sold here. It gets rain sensing wipers, heated and cooled seats, seven airbags, a reversing camera, cruise control, hill launch assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a whole lot more. There are even track-based applications like a lap timer and a performance data recorder. They're no gimmick either. The data recorder proved to be quite accurate. The 0-100kmph figure was only 0.1 slower than what the VBOX recorded.
Boot space is decent
The Ford Mustang GT is an icon and a very unique offering in a market filled with European sportscars. It may not be the perfect car but offers enormous amounts of fun, looks out of this world, rides well and that V8 soundtrack... Oh man, it makes you weak in the knees. That's not all. It oozes character and is as American as cheeseburgers, fries and the right to bear arms. Can you put a price on that?
Images by Ashok George