Holden Commodore 2018 review
The new ZB Holden is a whole lot more Commodore than you may realise. Whether it lives up to its reputation is another matter.
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Name a car more famous than the Ford Mustang? There isn’t one – even people who don’t care or know much about cars know what a Mustang is.
But unlike movie stars, it’s reborn time and again with each new generation of Mustang. Sure, there were some years where the Mustang lost its way in the design wilderness, but by the 2000s it was making a comeback thanks to looks which channelled those 1960s cars.
In late 2016 the six-generation Mustang arrived in Australia just in the nick of time – Ford was ending production of its Falcon and that would leave it without a V8 performance car. Since its arrival the ‘Stang’ has been a sales success for Ford, and now the updated version of the car has arrived.
This update is way more than just a slightly new look. So, what’s changed? Stacks. We found out when we drove the V8 GT at its Australian launch.
Oh, and there is one Ford badge on Mustang – know where it is? Read on and we’ll point it out along the way.
|Ford Mustang 2018: Fastback GT 5.0 V8|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Okay, let’s be honest with each other – the main appeal of the Mustang is its looks. Yup, this thing could be powered by a couple of cocker spaniels and have a top speed of Kyle Sandilands’ walking pace, and people would still be shouting “shut up and take my money”.
The good news is the V8 engine in the GT is magnificent, and you can read all about that magnificence below, but all you need to know right now is the grunt matches those restyled, but still drop dead gorgeous looks.
So how have the Mustang GT’s looks changed? Look at its face. The bonnet has lost its gunsight ridges and grown large nostrils and that nose curves down now more like a Jaguar F-Type thanks to the grille being placed lower. The LED headlights have been restyled and so has the bumper and the circular fog lights have been replaced with LED strips.
It’s hard to make out in the images but the contours of the black plastic skirting the front spoiler are beautiful – I’ve never written that in any review ever before, and I found myself getting a bit lost in the little details like that are all over the new Mustang.
Look at the lines in the bonnet, see how they flow to the side of the car; check out those perfect door gaps; and see how the back bumper is fixed to the rear of the car – it’s a three-dimensional join with a gap that’s almost seamless. Below is a new quad exhaust system – yes, twice as many exhaust tips as before - set in a sophisticated grey rear diffuser under those new LED tail-lights.
If the previous Mustang looked great, then this is polished greatness.
What wasn’t at all great about the last model was the cheap feel of the cabin with its hard plastics and uninspiring fit and finish. Ford took the criticism seriously and this updated Mustang has a more refined ‘export’ interior. That means a better-quality fitment and feel to the materials used – brushed aluminium instead of chrome trim in places, optional leather power adjustable Recaro seats, softer plastics and a stunning 12.4-inch virtual instrument cluster. The refinement could still be better, but it’s a noticeable improvement.
You can have your GT as a Fastback or Convertible. Both have the same new front and rear treatments, the only big difference in the bodies apart from the roof is the aerial on the Convertible’s boot lid.
What you can see is the reinforcement which has gone into the structure of the Convertible adding about 60kg of extra weight, too.
While the Convertible carries off a great execution of an automatic soft top roof (there's no retractable hardtop option), it looks better with the tonneau cover off, but nothing quite beats the teardrop shape of the Fastback’s hardtop.
Also, the Fastback lives up to its name and is actually faster to 100km/h than the Convertible. What the heck? I’ll tell you why in the engine specs section below.
This is just an update, so the Mustang’s dimensions don’t change – well, not much anyway. The wheelbase stays the same at 2720mm, and the new front and rear treatments have only added a mere 5mm for an overall length at 4789mm, while width including mirrors (folded out) is 2097mm.
It’s not a massively long car but it can feel that way looking out over that powerboat like nose – you can read more about what the Mustang is like to drive in the section below.
If you’re keen to find out what the interior dimensions are, and which ones have changed then dip into the section on practicality.
Oh, and the Ford badge – have you spotted it yet? There’s only one Ford badge on the outside of the Mustang and it’s almost invisible – you ‘ll see it high in the middle of the windscreen near the rear-view mirror. It’s a Blue Oval sticker and you can really only spot it if you’re standing right in front of it.
There’s a four-cylinder Mustang? Yup, it’s called the EcoBoost, but only the V8 GT was available for us to drive at the Australian launch. That was fine by me, as I’m of the thinking that it’s a V8 or nothing when it comes to muscle cars. [full disclosure: I have a Ford V8 tattoo on my arm].
That V8 is the same 5.0-litre Coyote engine which was in the previous GT, but Ford has developed it further and squeezed another 33kW of power and 26Nm of torque out for a new grand total of 339kW (about 455 horsepower) and 556Nm.
The six-speed automatic transmission has been given the heave-ho and now there’s a quick shifting 10-speed auto, while the six-speed manual has been redesigned to handle more torque (but remains unavailable in the Convertible).
How fast is the V8 Mustang? Well, testing showed the previous GT could nail 0-100km/h in about 5.5 seconds despite the claims of it being a sub-five second car. Ford says the updated Fastback can do it in 4.3sec thanks to that quick shifting 10-speed automatic while the Convertible is only 0.2sec behind it – don’t forget it’s about 62kg heavier. With the manual gear box Ford reckons the Fastback can make the jump to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. Impressive figures, but we haven’t yet tested them.
It gets me every time I slip into the driver’s seat of the Mustang – that bonnet stretching away out in front like the bow of an offshore powerboat. Just piloting it out of the airport car park felt like I was moving away from a marina and into open water where I could squash my right foot hard against the floor. But you don’t need to open the throttle fully to feel or hear anything from the GT because the active exhaust system lets you change the note from Normal, Quiet and Sport to Track. Sport is plenty loud enough and just cruising at 70km/h that exhaust note growls beautifully and will bark if you prod the accelerator.
The Mustang shrinks as you drive it – well it seems that way because after steering the GT for 15 minutes that large powerboat feeling disappears as you begin to get a sense of its size.
Starting out in the automatic Fastback and using the shifting paddles to climb through the gears I found that it was better to leave the transmission in Drive – 10 speeds is a lot to choose from and when you’re up around ninth it’s easy to get lost and end up hunting back through gears to find the best one to overtake that truck in front.
All of our test cars were fitted with the optional MagneRide adaptive dampers which are capable of adjusting up to 1000 times per second on the fly for better ride and handling. The 100km from Adelaide to Tailem Bend would be a good test for how that coped with ordinary Australian roads while The Bend Motorsport Park at our destination would give a better picture on the handling.
Not having a car fitted with the standard suspension was a bit cheeky, as I have nothing to compare the MagneRide cars to, but in comparison to the previous car (which wasn't available with adaptive dampers, even as an option) the ride on the potholed and coarse-chip roads was definitely more comfortable and composed, almost luxury car-like even rolling on those 19-inch, 40 profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres (255 front, 275 rear).
The Bend is one of the newest racetracks in Australia and the surface was pristine – until we arrived. Within a few hours we’d painted it with rubber because – science.
Yup, the track had been cordoned off into a handling section while the main straight was turned into a drag strip because the Mustang GT has a Drag Strip Mode – I kid you not.
First, handling – I’ve driven more nimble and agile cars, but the Mustang GT is a muscle car, and it performed well for one, with good grip, direct and accurate steering, and it powered like an absolute beast out of the corners. And in Track mode that exhaust note roars into battle like a Viking that’s got out of the wrong side of bed.
Drag Strip mode is sort of Mustang speak for launch control, and it ensures continuous torque through the gears without any ‘downtime’ between the shifts. It works superbly and hilariously well.
You may also like to know also in the name of science that the GT can break traction through first second, third and fourth gears.
If you’ve ever owned a muscle car you’ll know about fun:fuel relationship. Both fun and fuel are both directly proportional to each other. So, at best you’ll use 12.7L/100km – that’s Ford’s consumption claim for the GT automatic (both Fastback and Convertible) after a combination of urban and open roads. The manual uses a smidge more, at 13.0L/100km.
If you’re seriously worried about fuel usage, then the EcoBoost four-cylinder model could be perfect for you because it looks identical to the GT only nowhere near as thirsty. But then it also sounds and feels like a four cylinder.
As for a plug-in hybrid or electric Mustang - never say never, well that's what Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann told me. While he said he wasn't working on one right now, he didn't rule out a future EV model.
The GT now costs more than it used to – at least $6000 more depending on the version. So now the automatic Fastback lists for $65,990, while the manual is $62,990. The Convertible automatic lists for $74,338 including luxury car tax (keeping in mind that the LCT threshold is $66,331 for non-fuel-efficient cars.)
Coming standard on the GT is the clever and colourful 12.4-inch instrument cluster, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, a 12-speaker stereo with DAB+ digital radio, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, the selectable drive modes, push-button start, active exhaust with quad tailpipes, and 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Is it good value? Well the price increase over the outgoing model is steep, but you’re getting more equipment and technology, more grunt and a better-quality cabin. Plus look at it like this: the Mustang GT with a manual is the only rear-wheel drive V8 coupe you can get in Australia for less than $65K. Still think it’s too much? Well, how about this: the Kia Stinger V6 is $59,990. Did McQueen drive a Kia? I think not.
So, the answer is still: yes, it’s good value.
What are the rivals to the Mustang? Well, the answer is: there aren't any direct ones in Australia - not at the time of writing. Sure there's the Kia Stinger, but that's a four-door. There's Nissan's 370Z but that's smaller and not a muscle car. Then there's the Chevrolet Camaro (sold by HSV), however, which will be in Australia before the end of the year and it will be the perfect competitor to the Mustang.
The Mustang has four seats, but those rear ones don’t offer much in the way of legroom – not for me anyway. I’m 191cm tall and I can’t sit behind my driving position – not even nearly. I have seen shorter adults sit back there though, so if you had to ferry an extra couple of people somewhere occasionally you could with those back seats.
Room up front is excellent – leg and shoulder room is good, and headroom was ample enough for me to wear a helmet with plenty of clearance while on the track.
Storage isn’t bad. The boot space in the Fastback is 408 litres while the cargo capacity of the Convertible is 332 litres.
There’s two cupholders up front, thin door pockets and a centre console bin that’s not quite deep enough to close with a 500mL bottle in it.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
A two-out-of-five-of-stars ANCAP rating in 2017 has been addressed by Ford in this latest update with the addition of advanced safety equipment such as AEB, Lane Keeping Assistance and forward collision warning. But - and it’s a big but - the updated Mustang has been tested and scored three ANCAP stars losing marks for poor child protection and rear adult protection in the rear. Whiplash protection was also given a low score. It’s a disappointing score for a new car and we’re hoping Ford can continue its work to improve occupant protection further.
In the back you’ll find two ISOFIX points and two top tether anchor points.
Ford’s Mustang GT is covered by a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended annually or every 15,000km and is capped at about $500 a visit for the first 10 years (it's a lifetime capped-price service plan).
The Mustang GT is unique in Australia as a relatively affordable high-powered rear-wheel-drive coupe. It’s also accessible in that it’s easy and fun to drive. This car lives us to its iconic name and in my view is the best Mustang Ford has ever created.
|2.3 Gtdi||2.3L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$49,998 – 57,705||2018 Ford Mustang 2018 2.3 Gtdi Pricing and Specs|
|2.3 Gtdi (5 YR)||2.3L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$36,000 – 46,530||2018 Ford Mustang 2018 2.3 Gtdi (5 YR) Pricing and Specs|
|GT 5.0 V8||5.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$52,999 – 67,900||2018 Ford Mustang 2018 GT 5.0 V8 Pricing and Specs|
|GT 5.0 V8 (5 YR)||5.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$44,200 – 55,880||2018 Ford Mustang 2018 GT 5.0 V8 (5 YR) Pricing and Specs|
|Engine & trans||8|
|Price and features||8|