Few cars are as iconic and tied to their brand’s identity as Ford’s Mustang.
The very shape of it is unmistakable, yet there isn’t a single Ford badge to be found anywhere on its exterior.
When the current generation arrived here in 2016 it was the perfect time for Ford to claim its identity at the end of the locally manufactured Falcon. Unlike arch-rival Holden, there would be no confusion as to what Ford was all about.
And the success speaks for itself. The Mustang and Ranger define what Ford in Australia is now. A competitive player with a fun twist that not only holds on to its audience but offers them the best of both worlds.
After all, the dual-cab ute is the new casual enthusiast’s car, while the Mustang is the living aura of the old-world V8, rear-wheel drive tourer.
But does it really make sense in 2020? Can a long-bonneted burbling V8 still exist alongside today’s world of quiet, efficient, small-capacity SUVs?
I took a very loud (in multiple ways) Mustang GT for a week to find out.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10
You may have noticed from the pictures this unmissable green missile is hardly a base-spec vehicle. And, as you might imagine, there’s a premium to be paid in this day and age to have such luxuries as a massive V8 engine and a rear-wheel drive layout.
Still, in terms of cars like it, the Mustang is relatively affordable. Steer clear of the options list and you can have a 5.0-litre GT Fastback with the 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission for $64,190.
It’s fair to say that nobody is complaining about the Mustang’s current visage.
To make the Mustang look like the one pictured, you’ll need to tick an options box or four. Our car had 'Grabber Lime' paint ($650) and the ‘black shadow pack’ ($1000) to add to the visual appeal, plus Recaro seats ($3000), and the performance-focused 'MagneRide' suspension package ($2750) for a total of $71,590, before on-road costs.
Pricey, sure, but still in well under the premium-badged Euros. The way this car frequently defies market trends for the two-door coupe segment shows Ford has managed to bring us a right-hand drive car in at least the price ballpark for its target audience.
Standard spec is high with 19-inch alloys (I'm a particular fan of the mag-look rims fitted to our car), 12-speaker audio (ours had a Bang and Olufsen-branded set), an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in nav, a 12-inch digital dash cluster, leather seat and wheel trim, full LED front lighting, rain-sensing wipers, heated and power folding wing mirrors, illuminated scuff plates, ‘pony’ puddle lamps, RGB LED ambient interior lighting, and keyless entry with push-start.
The 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto.
An option-box that might be worth ticking is the one for a space-saver spare, as the car only comes with a repair kit standard.
Our car may not be as cheap as its left-hand drive US-market version, but that standard spec is nothing to be scoffed at. Especially since there are few cheaper ways to get a V8 in front of you on Australia’s car market right now.
When it comes to general spec though, we’d still prefer a more thorough active safety package over some of those flashy aesthetic items, but we’ll get to that later in this review.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
The Mustang is a success story of an iconic silhouette remastered for the modern age. It seems Ford’s design department is no stranger to simply giving the fans what they want.
This means a muscular frame, long bulging bonnet, wide stance, squared-off rear with referential three-bar light clusters and that sleek coupe rear that flicks up into an integrated tail.
It could have been to the point of self-parody, but no. It’s fair to say that nobody is complaining about the Mustang’s current visage. Its dimensions are undeniably massive, though, which seems wasteful for a two-door coupe, no matter which way you try to justify it.
The Mustang is a success story of an iconic silhouette remastered for the modern age.
Unlike America, where this car’s popularity is perhaps its only downfall, the Mustang is still just rare enough for it to turn heads in Australia’s traffic.
And sure, our car was a walking, talking advertisement for the Pony, but there are much more subtle (if you can apply that word…) colour, decal, and wheel combinations to be had.
The interior quality of the Mustang has jumped significantly for this generation, and while I wouldn’t call it anywhere near as sophisticated, as, say, a BMW, or as pragmatic as Kia’s Stinger, it hits the mark with a character to match its exterior.
The interior quality of the Mustang has jumped significantly for this generation.
Two things struck me as odd, however. First, the parts commonality in this car with any other Ford I’ve driven in the last year seemed to be limited to the function stalks and the media screen.
Second, you feel every last bit of this car’s weight and size from behind the wheel. More on that when we get to the driving section…
How practical is the space inside? 6/10
Does anybody buy a Mustang with this topic front of mind?
No, right? Let’s take a look anyway in case you were curious, and get something out of the way from the start.
The Mustang is not a great car for ferrying around four passengers. It’s a 2+2 and has rear seats. I fit in them, but I had to move the front seat forward from my ideal driving position slightly, and even then, my headroom and especially legroom was severely cramped. I would not want to be there for long.
You have to wonder whether it was really worth Ford’s time to put rear seats in this car at all.
That is less of a problem than getting in, which, despite the Mustang’s gratuitous dimensions and huge doors, was an entirely clumsy affair.
You have to wonder whether it was really worth Ford’s time to put rear seats in this car at all, but then I suppose an uptick in sales from people convincing their partners that “it’s not just a two seater!” could justify their inclusion.
Front passengers are treated in relative opulence. The optional Recaro seats are far from racing buckets, with comfortable leather trim and US-market jumbo-sized bolstering for plenty of space.
It feels like a nice throne for touring, with plenty of adjustment at your fingertips provided you don’t care about objects or people that may want to use the seats in the rear.
The optional Recaro seats are far from racing buckets.
There is plenty of room for arms, and plush surfaces wherever you may want to rest elbows, with two jumbo-sized cupholders in the transmission console to hold any manner of objects.
Aside from a smallish armrest console, small pockets in the doors and shallow glove box, that’s sort of where storage areas end, even for front passengers.
Adjustability is nice for the driver, although there are some notable left- to right-hand drive issues when it comes to ergonomics, like the analog handbrake being on the 'wrong' side, or the volume knob being a bit of a reach.
While there’s not a huge amount of storage in the cabin, the Mustang still has a 408-litre boot, which is enough to fit our whole three-piece CarsGuide suitcase set with ease. For context the boot is larger than most hatchbacks, and on-par with even some mid-size SUVs.
The Mustang still has a 408-litre boot.
The boot is larger than most hatchbacks and can fit our whole three-piece CarsGuide suitcase set.
Oddly, opting for the space-saver spare does not raise the boot floor, makes you wonder why Ford didn’t make it a standard fitment.
One practicality item that was addressed by Ford was the exhaust. The 5.0-litre V8 is, as you might imagine, not quiet. The folks at Ford have added a ‘Quiet mode’ which is actually fantastic for not waking your neighbors up when you kick it to life in the morning.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 8/10
You’re looking at this car for this. The 5.0-litre V8 does exactly what it says on the tin. It barks and burbles and makes 339kW/556Nm without the assistance of a turbo or supercharger.
Who knows how long the brand will be able to produce such an engine as the world’s emissions regulations tighten? Ford is even suggesting some form of electrification is inevitable in the next-gen pony car.
I was initially disappointed to find our car fitted with this unit rather than the six-speed manual, but it turned out to be a pretty nice drive regardless. Especially if long-distance touring is your thing.
How much fuel does it consume? 6/10
With such a large, naturally aspirated engine in a car that weighs a whopping 1784kg, this story was never going to be good.
The claim is 12.7L/100km, and although that is a lot of fuel by today’s standards, I was surprised to land so close to the claim anyway, with our car drinking 13.5L/100km over a week of testing.
Annoyingly you’ll also need to give this Pony the good stuff to drink, with Ford recommending top-shelf 98 RON premium unleaded to fill the 61-litre tank.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 6/10
Despite some surprises here, the Mustang is still marred with a three out of five-star ANCAP safety rating, as of June 2018. We know that this does not deter buyers, but it’s still worth looking at.
There’s no blind spot monitoring or driver attention alert available, and the Mustang was marked down heavily for its rear occupant (both adult and child) protection in side and frontal offset crash scenarios.
The rear seats get two ISOFIX and two top-tether child-seat mounting points.
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / unlimited km
ANCAP Safety Rating
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
Drive enough performance-oriented cars and you get a feel for how they ‘talk’ to you. You know, through the chassis, the steering, the pedals, everything. Thing is, I’m not sure I like what the Mustang has to say.
Things like, “My traction isn’t great right now, haha” and, “Go on, press that go pedal a little further, don’t you want to find out what happens?”
It whispers disturbing comments like this frequently. Fine when you’re out on a skidpan, nerve wracking when you’re just trying to do your daily commute in the wet.
I’ve also never driven this generation of Mustang without the MagneRide suspension package, so I can’t tell you whether this feeling is better or worse on the standard set-up.
What I can tell you is the ride is pretty rough at low speeds, and settles out as you get faster. It’s crashy over bumps in the suburbs, and a bit loud in the cabin over shoddy surfaces and coarse-chip surfaces. Mark that against its otherwise comfortable cabin as a tourer.
The firm ride and solid weight can also cause some issues with traction as already alluded to. When the weight of the car springs back over bumps, you can feel the pressure lift of those all-important rear tyres.
the Mustang's ride is pretty rough at low speeds.
There were many moments where I felt slight slides, or the fact that a loss of control could be as simple as an ill-timed slight prod of the accelerator when cornering. I see how so many of these meet unfortunate ends at the hands of teenagers leaving cars and coffee meets…
Regardless, if it’s a bold V8 chariot you’re after, the Mustang doesn’t disappoint. All the muscle-car romance is there, the sound, the smell, the linear progression of torque as the engine growls through its rev range. That transmission isn’t bad either, with plenty of ratios to keep your fuel consumption down, but that satisfying torque converter feel.
You can’t help but love it. When I started my week the thing was so loud and green and shouty that I shrunk into my leather-lined Recaro throne as I burbled past people. But when it came time to return it, there was a distinct sadness in knowing it would likely be a long time before I had control of such a satisfying V8 burble under my right foot again…
There are two camps of people. Those that love the entire idea of a V8 RWD Pony car, and everybody else.