In an act of automotive heresy second to very few, I have never been on the Mustang train. I mean, I get it, I understand it, but I am not onboard.
But, each to their own and all that - the great thing about automotive iconography is that it's harmless. Bought a nasty old shell and spent 10 years doing it up? All power to you. Just don't expect me to look all delighted and ask questions about provenance or whatever.
Despite the genesis story featuring a birth in the 1960s, we're only up to the sixth generation of the pony car. I drove a 2015 car and I don't mind telling you, not only was I not on board, I was looking for any other train. The seats were squidgy, the V8 was virtually silent (slight exaggeration) and the interior was just plain ropey.
Editor Flynn was aware of my displeasure - in fact, he rode with me while I listed the litany of issues I had with it. Three years on and things have changed, apparently with the release of the updated MY19 Mustang. Let's find out if it's enough to at least get me on the platform.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The GT is the meaty 5.0-litre V8 version of the Mustang. Starting at $62,990 for the six-speed manual, you can have the 10-speed auto for $65,990 and yet more for an auto-only convertible.
The GT arrives with 19-inch wheels, a 12-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, comprehensive safety package, active cruise control, partially electric drivers seat (with heating and ventilation), full digital dashboard, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, leather trim, heated folding rear mirrors and a sports exhaust.
The Mustang gets a full digital dashboard with loads of adjustability.
Our car had the terrific (optional) Recaro front seats, well worth the $3000 outlay. The MagneRide suspension ($2750) is also very good, but I'd like a go in a car without it and it also had the retina-troubling 'Orange Fury' paint for a reasonable $550. You can get forged 19-inch alloys ($2500), stripes ($650) and spoiler ($750).
`The sixth-gen Mustang is by far the best-looking since the original. The second generation was basically the first but slightly different, the third horrifically ugly (with strange Sierra-style headlights), fourth was doughy, fifth was getting there but the sixth looks contemporary-with-nostalgia-done-right. A bit like the Jaguar F-Type, actually, though not quite as brave. That's okay, though, because being brave with the Mustang wouldn't work out.
The MY19 came with a few detail changes to the front end - a lower grille means a new bonnet (complete with snorting nostrils) that curves down to meet it, some really nice details on the plastic skirting on the reshaped bonnet and new lights here and there.
The sixth-gen Mustang is by far the best-looking since the original.
The sixth-gen Mustang looks contemporary-with-nostalgia-done-right. A bit like the Jaguar F-Type.
Down back there's a new diffuser, new LED lights and quad exhausts. Still no Ford badge on the bodywork, which I find a bit strange - yeah, everyone knows its a Mustang but Ford could do with the PR, I reckon.
Inside is way better. The crap seats are gone, most of the awful plastics are in the bin (we get the 'export' interior, which makes me remember how tolerant Americans are of rubbish interiors) but that kitschy row of chromed switches is still there. But it's way better inside than before, it's an interior that better fits the price tag.
Objectively speaking, this isn't really a four-seater car, despite the inclusion of four seats and corresponding seat belts. The rear seats are as token as a Toyota 86's in that you can cram a good-natured human in there for a short time.
Front seat passengers have two cupholders that are largely unsuable when you're changing gears. Thankfully the cupholders aren't a bad place for your phone as they're joined by a slot. As there isn't really room for rear seat passengers, Ford skipped offering any storage.
Up front, you get a small bin under the armrest, bottle holders in the doors, and a glove box with room for things.
Like the Toyota 86, the Mustang's rear seats are a token.
The boot takes a very decent 408 litres, meaning two people can actually go away on holidays.
The rear seats can be folded forward to help create more space.
Back up front, you do a get a small bin under the armrest, the doors each have small bottle holders and the glove box even has room for things other than the owner's manual.
The boot takes a very decent 408 litres, meaning two people can actually go away on holidays with the things they need to take with them rather than having to post them ahead.
Ford says you'll get 13.0L/100km on the combined cycle and by golly, we got damn close. In fact, I bettered the official figure by a decent margin. I was fortunate enough to have the car over three weeks and when it went back, the indicated fuel figure was 12.4L/100km. I can categorically state I did not baby this car around. That just wouldn't have been cricket.
Each service is around $500 and includes an extension to state motoring organisation membership for up to seven years for roadside assistance. You can also book a free loan car. All of that together is uncommon, so it's a good package. Ask a BMW or Audi owner if they get that with their $150,000 sports coupe.
I still wasn't expecting to like it, despite all the hoo-haa over the MY19.
The Recaro seats are nice, if a bit weird - the fore-aft adjustment is electric but the backrest is manual. Doesn't matter, they're really comfortable (I think they're $3000 comfortable, you may not). You sit low and the view out is not at all bad, but over the shoulder vision is poor, which makes the lack of blind spot monitor annoying.
I like the feeling of being pushed back in the car, even if it means there's a long bonnet ahead of me. The Mustang feels like a sports car, rather than the more prosaic origins of its 1960s original.
Corner exits are a complete hoot in Race mode, the tail wagging all over the place as you unstick the rears.
The new exhaust brings the V8 to the fore - hit the starter button and it growls into life, settling into an agro idle. You've got a choice of driving modes, each delivering more noise as you step up. The drag race mode seems dumb, but the dashboard Christmas tree display is at least funny.
You can set up a whole bunch of options in each of the driving modes. Doing so is more annoying than it needs to be, so thankfully you only do it once. One of the things you change - if you've specified it - is the excellent MagneRide suspension. In the lower modes, it provides a lovely compliant ride. As you move into Sport + and Race, it firms things up, but still keeps things interesting by not making everything rock-hard. It's a nice balance and fits the muscle car vibe.
I love a V8 and this is a good one. The lovely deep growl follows you everywhere you go and the long, long first gear encourages you to rev it out a bit as well as give the throttle a prod as you shift down.
Brake feel is good and the assistance is spot on
The Mustang isn't about cornering finesse and that's perfectly fine. It's a chunky fella at over 1700kg but really moves in a straight line while cornering tidily. Corner exits are a complete hoot in Race mode, the tail wagging all over the place as you unstick the rears (on a track, obviously).
Another of my complaints in the previous car were the mushy brakes. That may have been restricted to the car I drove. The MY19 packs a big set, with 380mm discs up front and 352mm at the back. The discs are gripped with aluminium Brembos, the fronts have six pistons and the rear four. In short: they're excellent. Brake feel is good and the assistance is spot on. While I didn't get any track time, the stoppers took a pretty good hammering in their stride. So I certainly can't complain about the brakes anymore.
It's also a lovely cruiser - comfortable, quiet when you want it to be and in sixth gear just coasts along with a distant V8 rumble.
I'm now ready to step on the Mustang train. Not in a dewy-eyed, Steve McQueen, show and shine way but in a, "Yeah, this is a good car" way. I enjoyed the Mustang's long stay over Christmas, as did the legion of passengers who for some reason needed lift somewhere when I had it. Despite arriving at my house in a perfectly functioning car of their own.
It's comfortable, fast and brings out all the right emotions. Less rage over the formerly nasty interior, more happiness about the way it goes about its business. It looks great (don't tell my wife, I liked the orange), sounds brilliant and is by far the cheapest V8 coupe on the market today.
It's also one of the best-priced sporting coupes on the market - despite the imminent arrival of a few new entrants from Japan and Germany, a fast coupe for around sixty grand looks unbeatable. Add in that lovely V8 and it seems unbeatable, too.
Are you with Peter? Is the Mustang now a car on your list? Or are you waiting for the rivals to arrive?