Audi S4 and S5 2021 review
The S4 and S5 line-up is arguably the sweetest balance between serious performance and everyday comfort Audi produces, and all five bodystyles have been treated to an update for 2021.
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From the moment Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager first punched a hole through the sound barrier, high above Southern California in 1947, the term ‘Mach 1’ has been inexorably linked with speed.
The blue oval has offered up various iterations of the Mustang Mach 1 since then, and this is the latest, a 5.0-litre V8-powered version of the current pony car featuring extensive engineering upgrades and a look that screams old school performance.
With an electric car wave already starting to break on our shores this pumped up beast feels like the automotive equivalent of a polar bear on shrinking ice.
So, is this your last chance to own a traditional US horsepower hero? Maybe, but the more important question is, is it any good?
|Ford Mustang 2022: Mach 1|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Mustang Mach 1 bears all the hallmarks of a modern muscle car, courtesy of a traditional wide stance and fat rubber matched with a contemporary take on aero efficiency and go-fast graphics.
The standard Mustang is already well balanced visually, and the Mach 1’s marginally wider 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels (echoing the original car’s ‘Magnum 500’ rims) shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S Z-rated rubber (255/40fr-275/40rr) enhance its firmly planted look.
Slimline LED headlights, a black mesh grille (complete with additional light cut-outs as another tip of the hat to the ‘69 car), and a deep splitter dial up the take-no-prisoners vibe.
Black functional bonnet vents (as per the standard GT) stand out from our test car’s vibrant ‘Twister Orange’ paint (with ‘Satin Black’ and white stripes); a $650 option.
The single no-cost colour is ‘Oxford White’, with other extra-cost shades running to ‘Velocity Blue’, ‘Shadow Black’, and ‘Fighter Jet Gray.’
Car spotters will immediately pick the signature Mach 1 badges on the car’s front fenders and bootlid centre, but keener eyes will also register a black bootlid spoiler, deeply channelled diffuser (borrowed from the Mustang Shelby GT500) and huge 4.5-inch quad exhaust tips.
The focus on aero elements isn’t just for show, either. An underbody pan smooths and increases airflow under the car, working with the splitter and diffuser to add downforce while improving brake cooling at the same time.
Inside, the look and feel is familiar, although a sleek, customisable 12-inch digital instrument cluster lifts the tech factor. But it sits in contrast with the relatively modest 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen sitting above the centre console.
The ultra-cool white cue ball gear knob makes a reappearance, having featured in the Mustang Bullitt from 2019, and a dash-mounted Mach 1 plaque displaying the car’s chassis number is another reminder you’re in something special.
Nice to see a mechanical parking brake lever (all but a museum piece these days), although its left offset on the centre console says the bean-counters in Detroit drew a line at moving it over for right-hand drive markets.
The Mustang’s mix of buttons, levers and rotary dials feels dated in a world of screen-dominated dash design. But on the other hand, it suits the car’s retro aesthetic, including the symmetrical double-hooded dashtop and circular vents. It all works pretty well from an ergonomic point-of-view, too.
Standard front seats are generously bolstered sports buckets, but our test car’s beautifully sculpted Recaros (with contrast stitching) dial up the sense of occasion, while adding $3000 to the ticket.
Practicality is a relative concept when assessing a car like the Mustang. And within the parameters of a two-door coupe the Mach 1 has a few tricks up its sleeve.
First, it’s a ‘2+2’ rather than a strict two-seater. So, if you need to transport a couple of extra people, you can. But, make sure they’re small, preferably kids, because while the front is snug but accommodating, the rear is snug but painful.
I tried folding myself in there and before I could get my backside anywhere near the cushion my head was making meaningful contact with the roof. The further I pushed into the seat the closer my chin came to my sternum.
With the driver’s seat set to my 183cm position, rear legroom is next to non-existent, too. So, while spindly pre-teens will be okay, adults will need to hold a tightly coiled yoga pose for what will hopefully be a short journey.
Storage runs to slim door pockets, a pair of sizable cupholders in the front centre console, a decent storage box/armrest between the front seats, a phone-sized oddments tray in front of the gear shift, and a generous glove box.
The rear seat’s short-stay status is reinforced by a lack of storage for cups, bottles or anything else. No adjustable ventilation for back-seaters, either.
Connectivity and power options include a USB-A port and 12V outlet at the front of the centre console, a pairing repeated in the storage box. Again, nothing for those consigned to the rear.
Another surprise is the boot’s 382-litre volume. Enough to hold our three-piece suitcase set (just), or the bulky CarsGuide pram (easily). And the rear seat split-folds 50/50 to open up even more load space.
Worth noting the Mustang is a no-tow zone, and don’t bother looking for a spare of any description. Despite the boot floor featuring a recess to accommodate a full-size fifth wheel, your only option with the Mach 1 is a repair/inflator kit.
With cost-of-entry for the Mustang Mach 1 sitting at $83,365, before on-road costs, it’s hard to line up a direct competitive set.
A Lexus RC F sends 5.0-litre, atmo V8 power to the rear wheels, but it departed the Aussie new car market late last year, and was double the dollars anyway.
We’re theorising Nissan’s new twin-turbo V6 Z will sit at around $70K for the top-spec Proto version, but it’s not due until mid-year. Which leaves some vaguely comparable options (dollar-wise) from the German Big Three.
Nah, this a Mustang, and right now there’s nothing quite like it. However, traditional doesn’t have to mean bare bones, and you’re going to want your fair share of standard features for the $80K+ price tag.
Aside from the safety and performance tech we’ll get into shortly, the Mach 1 equipment list includes, LED headlights and tail-lights, chunky 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, configurable ambient lighting, a customisable 12-inch digital instrument cluster, and cruise control, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and parking brake lever.
There’s also sat nav, keyless entry and start, leather-accented seats, six-way power-adjustable as well as heated and cooled sports front seats, alloy pedal covers, an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen running Ford’s ‘SYNC 3’ system (with voice control), and a 1000W 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with (corded) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The sub-woofer in the boot is a monster!
There’s more, but you get the idea. A solid basket of fruit for the money.
No electric motor or mild-hybrid shenanigans here… not even a turbo or supercharger. The Mustang Mach 1 is powered by a naturally aspirated, 90-degree, 5.0-litre (302ci) V8 engine, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox (as tested).
But the block and heads are alloy, the twin overhead camshafts sitting on top of each bank actuate four valves per cylinder, and the induction system is a combination of low-pressure port, and high-pressure direct fuel-injection.
It also features dual variable valve timing, and the Mach 1 picks up the track-focused Shelby GT350’s intake hardware, and recalibrated engine management software.
The result is 345kW (463hp) at 7500rpm, and 556Nm at 4600rpm, with delivery of those substantial numbers supported by a suitably gruff active exhaust system.
Other pieces lifted from the Shelby GT350 parts bin include an engine oil cooler, rear axle cooler, and the heavy-duty Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual ‘box.
For those who choose to sidestep the delights of swapping ratios themselves an upgraded 10-speed paddle shift auto is available (at no extra cost), featuring a revised calibration and beefier torque converter specifically for the Mustang Mach 1.
Ford’s official fuel economy figure for the Mustang Mach 1 manual on the combined cycle (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) is 13.9L/100kmL/100km, the 5.0-litre V8 emitting 320g/km of C02 in the process. The auto comes in at 12.4L/100km and 284g/km.
Over a week of city, suburban and at times enthusiastic B-road running we saw an average of 14.5L/100km. Not exactly miserly, but a decent result for a V8 2+2 offering this much performance potential.
With the 61-litre tank brimmed (with 98 RON premium unleaded) that real-world test number translates to a range of around 420km.
There’s s-o-o-o much to like about driving the Ford Mustang Mach 1. The engine and exhaust, the Tremec six-speed, the clutch, the steering, the adaptive dampers. It’s a wonderfully engaging, straight-up fun car to steer.
Sinking the slipper into the 5.0-litre quad-cam V8 feels like a wicked indulgence, and while peak torque (556Nm) doesn’t arrive until 4600rpm, there’s mega pulling power available well below that.
Sure, a high-performance turbo will give you that initial burst of low-down thrust, but this car’s rapidly building stream of acceleration is hugely enjoyable.
There’s copious amounts of grunt available across the mid-range, and maximum power (345kW) is quoted at a lofty 7500rpm (100rpm above the notional rev ceiling!).
By that time the grumbling exhaust has turned into a full-blown howl, and suppressing a smile is impossible. Expect 0-100km/h in just over five seconds for this manual and a little under five for the 10-speed auto.
The six-speed ‘box delivers a mechanical feel without being notchy or awkward. Throws are short, the clutch is perfectly weighted, and the grippy cue ball shift knob is a (white) cherry on top.
Despite light-weighting measures like an alloy bonnet and front fenders (common to all current Mustangs), the Mach 1 tips the scales at a not inconsiderable 1.7 tonnes. But it doesn’t feel like a heavyweight. The electrically-assisted steering is well-weighted, road feel is excellent, and the leather-trimmed wheel is satisfyingly grippy.
Suspension is strut front, multi-link rear, the latter connecting to a rear subframe featuring stiffer bushings and a Shelby GT500 toe-link.
A close to 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution combined with stiffer sway bars and front springs, as well as adaptive dampers keeps the car balanced and steady in the corners. In the ‘Normal’ setting ride comfort is surprisingly good, with the shift to ‘Sport+’ immediate and noticeable.
Push as hard as you dare into tight corners and the standard Michelin Pilot Sport rubber bites hard, then the limited-slip differential puts maximum power down on exit, without fuss.
And when it comes to washing off speed the Mach 1 goes professional grade with Brembo six-piston fixed aluminium calipers on 380mm vented discs at the front, single-piston iron units clamping 330mm vented rotors at the rear, and a higher spec brake booster.
They can be a little grabby if you don’t grease your initial application in smoothly enough, but from there stopping power is progressive and strong.
Other general points? Our test car’s optional Recaro leather sports seats ($3000) look and feel great, but remember ticking that box means you lose the standard heating/cooling function.
The handbrake’s location on the left side of the centre console is a mild inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless. And the configurable 12-inch digital instrument cluster is brilliantly clear and simple.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Mustang scored three from a possible five ANCAP safety stars in 2017, the main areas affecting its assessment being adult and child occupant protection.
There’s been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on the rating with ANCAP citing only “adequate” crash protection for the driver and front passenger’s chest and lower legs in a frontal impact, the potential for whiplash injuries in a rear impact, and a “poor” head injury result for a ‘10-year dummy’ in the back seat during side impact testing.
Ford says the Mustang is a "safe car", suggesting ANCAP ratings emphasise features required in family cars and SUVs, preventing the Mustang securing a higher score. Things like ease of ingress and egress of the child seat, an area where two-door coupes are traditionally disadvantaged.
But ANCAP, and its sister organisation Euro NCAP, are the auto industry’s leading independent safety assessment groups, and no matter which way you cut it, three out of five stars ain’t ideal.
In terms of active safety tech, the Mach 1 features city and highway speed front AEB (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane keeping assist (with lane departure warning), active high-beam control, and tyre pressure monitoring.
No rear AEB, adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring, or rear parking sensors. Things you might reasonably expect in an $80K+ car.
If a crash is unavoidable there are eight airbags on board (dual front and front side, dual curtain, and knee bags for driver and front passenger), and the active bonnet rises up to minimise injuries in the case of a pedestrian impact.
There are two top tether points and two ISOFIX child seat anchors in the rear seat, and (given adequate mobile reception) an ‘Emergency Assistance’ feature dials back to base in response to a crash where an airbag is deployed or the fuel pump shut-off function is activated.
The Mustang Mach 1 is covered by Ford Australia’s five year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance and sat nav updates included for the first 12 months, with both renewed for another year each time the car is serviced at an authorised (participating) Ford dealer.
That main cover is the norm for the mainstream market, although some like Kia and SsangYong offer seven years/unlimited cover, and Mitsubishi is at 10 years.
Speaking of service, it’s recommended every 12 months/15,000km, and the Mustang Mach 1 is eligible for the ‘Ford Service Benefits’ program, which includes a service loan car.
A capped price servicing deal means each trip to the workshop is set at $299 for each of the first four services, up to four years/60,000km. Not bad.
The Ford Mustang Mach 1 represents a moment in time. With combustion engines under pressure, this naturally aspirated V8, rear-wheel drive, manual coupe is one of the last ‘traditional’ cars standing. It’s far from perfect, but I loved driving it, and to labour a cliched car reviewing phrase, it was hard to hand the keys back.
If you’re thinking about buying one, my advice is buy two. One to drive, and another to hermetically seal for future generations. And the good news is you won’t lose money on either of them.
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