Not exactly a bargain, but plenty of muscle for your money’
- Decent value for money
- Straight-line performance
- Americana image
- V8’s muscle
- Feels bulky on UK roads
- Handling lacks finesse
- Patchy interior quality
- V8’s thirst
It’s rare that the name of a car transcends beyond automotive enthusiasts into popular culture, but the Ford Mustang is one such vehicle. You can thank decades of cameos in Hollywood films for that.
Somewhat ironic then that it’s taken Ford over 50 years since the original ‘Stang made its Stateside debut to make a serious effort to import them here – and in right-hand drive.
Yes, there are thousands of older Mustangs already in the UK, the vast majority of them privately imported, although Ford had a half-hearted official channel back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This time it’s for real. Ford imports the Mustang in two guises: the Fastback – read coupe – reviewed here, and a Convertible.
Mustangs are physically large compared with their European and Japanese rivals such as the Audi A5 Coupe, BMW 4 Series Coupe, Infiniti Q60, Lexus RC and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, but the packaging is poor, resulting in a cramped cabin and a not especially commodious boot.
American image, engineered for Europe
Mustangs coming here feature some European-specific engineering modifications to make them go, stop and turn better than their predecessors.
America gets a wider range of powerplants, but here there is just a pair of engines to choose from – the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost with 317hp, similar to the unit fitted to the Focus RS, and a 5.0-litre V8 with 416hp on tap.
Clearly the former is the more efficient of the pairing, with promised economy nudging 35.3mpg and CO2 emissions a reasonable 179g/km. But who buys a muscle car for economy and efficiency? Turns out not many people, with the around two-thirds of Mustangs ordered with the larger engine.
In performance terms, the 2.3 Ecoboost manages the 0-62mph sprint in 5.8 seconds, its brawnier sibling in 4.8.
A six-speed manual gearbox, with a meaty throw, is the more popular transmission, although the six-speed auto feels aligned with the car’s American ethos.
Small range of Mustangs available
It’s very un-Ford-like, but the Mustang Fastback comes in just two regular trim levels – and each is specific to the engine.
Both offer a high level of kit, though, so no matter which Mustang you go for you’ll enjoy 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control and Ford’s Sync3 multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (the earlier Sync2 system was fitted until 2016).
For those wanting to behave like a hooligan the V8 is the only choice, though. Here you’ll discover the Line Lock and Launch Control systems that allow you to perform burn-outs with ease and accelerate as quickly as possible from a standstill.
The Parkers Verdict
On paper, the Ford Mustang Fastback is outclassed by its more established German and Japanese rivals in almost every regard: it lacks cabin space, it feels cheaper inside and it’s woefully inefficient in comparison with them. About the only thing it appears to have going for it is how much performance you get for your pound.
Yet the Pony Car’s greater than the sum of its parts. It oozes charm and brash charisma, it makes kids point and mouth ‘wow’, and although it’s dynamically beaten by the opposition on a winding B-road, you’ll get out at your journey’s end with an enormous grin on your face.