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Ford Mustang


Subaru BRZ

Summary

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang 2018 model is more than just a facelift, this is a comprehensive rework of the brand’s iconic muscle car.

There are big changes outside and in, but the most important ones are to the way the 2018 Ford Mustang drives. 

More than just brawn - although there’s plenty of that - this updated Pony Car has a bit more brain about it, too. 

We drove the new models in Nice, France, ahead of the Australian launch of the updated Mustang this month.

Safety rating
Engine Type5.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.6L/100km
Seating4 seats

Subaru BRZ

Small rear-drive sports coupe enthusiasts should be thanking their lucky stars, specifically the six lucky stars in Subaru’s logo, that a second generation of the BRZ even exists.

Cars like this are rare because they are expensive to build, difficult to homologate, hard to make safe, and attract a niche audience.

Even if they're well received and relatively good sellers, as the original BRZ and Toyota 86 pair were, there’s always a good chance they’ll be prematurely consigned to the history books in favour of committing resources to high-selling SUVs.

Yet Subaru and Toyota surprised us all by announcing a second-generation of the BRZ/86 pair.

With looks that could be chalked up as simply a facelift, though, has much changed under the skin? Is the new version meaningfully different from behind the wheel?

We were offered the opportunity to drive the 2022 BRZ on and off the track at its Australian launch to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating4 seats

Verdict

Ford Mustang7.5/10

The Ford Mustang 2018 update is a substantial one - it’s a marked improvement on a car that needed some attention here and there. It’s more fun, more adept and more muscular a muscle car as a result of the changes. If you’re already a Mustang owner and you’re wondering if the update is worth considering, the answer is ‘yes’. 

If it were my money, I’d choose the V8 auto coupe because, when it comes to this sort of car, it’s the bodybuilder of the bunch. 

Would you choose a V8 over a turbocharged four-cylinder? Let us know in the comments section below.


Subaru BRZ7.8/10

The BRZ’s angsty phase is over. The new car is a delicate refinement of a great sports coupe formula. It’s been tweaked in all the right places, inside and out, allowing it to attack the tarmac with a renewed and more grown-up focus. It even maintains a compelling price-point. What more can you ask for?

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Design

Ford Mustang7/10

If I had to make a remark about the updated Mustang’s design, it would be that it doesn’t quite look as American any more. That could be good or bad, depending on where your loyalties lie.

The slimmer, broader-looking headlights and the revised front bumper, grille and bonnet all work together to give it a more substantial presence on the road if you’re looking at in your rearview mirror. 

Obviously the roofline has remained the same, and the rear end has seen revised LED tail-lights, plus the V8 now has quad exhausts, the EcoBoost now has twin exhausts, and both now get a black diffuser rather than a colour-coded one. The GT model’s wheels remain the same as before - standard issue mesh multi spokes are fitted in 19-inch diameter across the line-up.

There is no doubting that this still looks muscly enough to be considered a muscle car, but the subtle styling changes outside are enough to push it more towards what we’ve come to expect of a modern-day sports car, too. It looks more European, and that’ll either float your boat, or it won’t.

Inside there are some design changes, too. The most important one being the 12.0-inch digital dashboard cluster in front of the driver, which is lovely to look at, offers excellent functionality, and really lifts the ambience of the cabin.

Some of the materials have been tweaked inside, and it feels more plush than it did before - anyone who drove the pre-update Mustang will know that the cabin was a bit low rent, and while this update sees a good stride towards it being better, it’s still not a penthouse apartment inside.


Subaru BRZ8/10

When the BRZ was revealed its new styling was polarising. While it looked a lot more mature than the zany lines and angry light fittings of the original model, I almost thought there was something retro about its newfound curvature running across its nose and particularly its rear.

It comes together nicely though as a more sophisticated design. One which looks fresh from the front and rear.

The side profile is perhaps the only area where you can see how closely this car is related to its predecessor, with very similar door panels and near identical dimensions.

The design is more than just a major freshen-up though. The curvier nose with lower grille is said to be significantly less drag-inducing, while all the vents, fins, and spoilers are entirely functional, working to reduce turbulence and allow air to flow around the car.

Subaru’s technical people say this is because reducing weight proved too difficult (despite its increase in equipment, this car only weighs a few kg more than its predecessor), so other ways were found to make it faster.

I find the rear integrated spoiler and distinct new light fittings particularly appealing, accentuating the width of this little coupe, tastefully tying it together.

Of course, you won’t need to go to a third party to clad your car in extra pieces, with Subaru offering STI-branded accessories. Everything from side skirts, blacked-out alloy wheels, even a ridiculous spoiler, if you’re so inclined.

The interior has quite a few carryover parts from the previous model. The prime contact points with the car, the steering wheel, shifter, and manual handbrake lever are the same, although the modified dash cladding feels more cohesive than before.

Gone are the aftermarket-look screen, climate dials which looked tacked on, and clumsily finished lower area, all replaced by more attractive pieces.

The climate unit and lower dash design, with smart shortcut buttons, are particularly nice, and don’t look as cobbled together as before.

The seats have been tweaked in terms of their trim, but overall share the same design. This is a good thing for front passengers, as the seats in the original car were already great, on-the road and when you needed the extra side-bolstering on the track.

Practicality

Ford Mustang6/10

The Mustang isn’t an alternative to a family sedan, and it shouldn’t be considered as such. It isn’t the most practical car you can buy - if you want practicality, you ought to shop elsewhere.

Even so, there is reasonably good usability on offer… at least for those in the front seats. The front features decent door-pocket storage, a pair of cupholders, a covered centre console bin, and a reasonable glovebox - but there’s not much loose-item storage for easy access to phones, wallets and the like.

There are elements to the cabin that just don’t make sense, like the monodirectional toggles for the drive mode and steering mode controls - why can’t you flick them up and down? It’s a silly and frustrating, oversight.

It’s simpler if you don’t think of the Mustang as a four-seater. Technically that’s what it is, but even toddlers or young children would be cramped back there, with limited head, knee and toe room, and no storage to speak of whatsoever. There are ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and top-tether points as well, if you want to try driving your kids around in one (perhaps you don't like them).

At the very least, those back seats fold down if you want to make it a two-seater with a massive boot space. Even without them folded, the boot capacity is good: it has 408 litres of luggage volume


Subaru BRZ6/10

I think we know nobody buys a car like the BRZ for its stellar practicality, and if you were hoping for some kind of improvement here, sorry to disappoint, there’s not a whole lot to say.

The ergonomics remain excellent, as do the front bucket seats for comfort and lateral support, and there is a slight improvement in the layout of the multimedia system, which is now a little easier to reach and use.

Same with the climate unit, which has larger, easier to operate dials, with shortcut buttons like ‘Max AC’ and ‘AC off’ to make the car’s core functions more straightforward.

Visibility is okay, with narrow front and rear window openings, but enough off to the side with decent mirrors to boot.

Adjustability is decent, with a low and sporty seating position, although taller people may run into issues with the tight roofline.

Cabin storage is notably limited, too. Automatic models score an additional centre console cupholder for a total of two, and there are small bottle holders in each door card.

A new split-folding centre console box has been added, which is shallow but long. It houses the 12V outlet, while USB ports are located under the climate functions.

The two rear seats are largely unchanged, being near-useless for adults. Kids, I suppose, might enjoy them, and they are useful to have in a pinch. A small practicality advantage over something like Mazda’s MX-5.

They’re clad in the same materials as the front seat but without the same level of padding. Don’t expect any amenity for rear passengers, either.

The boot weighs in at a tiny 201 litres (VDA). It’s hard to speak to the usefulness of this space without trying our demo luggage set to see what fits, but it has lost a few litres from the outgoing car (218L).

Surprisingly, though, the BRZ offers a full-size spare wheel, and the brand assures us it should still fit a full set of alloys with the single-piece back seat folded down.

Price and features

Ford Mustang8/10

The 2018 Ford Mustang range sees a bump in pricing across all models in the range. Here’s a rundown on the price list for the model line-up. 

The EcoBoost four-cylinder coupe with the six-speed manual still starts below $50k - just. The list price is $49,990 plus on-road costs. The 10-speed automatic version of the coupe lists at $52,990. That price is up $4000 on its predecessor.

The four-cylinder convertible models bring a fairly sizeable premium, with the 10-speed automatic version listed at $59,490. There’s no manual soft-top available. That price represents at $4500 jump on the pre-facelift model.

The V8-powered GT coupe with a six-speed manual transmission lists at $62,990, while the 10-speed automatic version comes in at $66,259. Those prices represent $5500 and $6639 jumps, respectively.

The Mustang GT convertible 10-speed auto is listed at $74,709 - a huge $8793 lift over the existing model.

Across the board, Ford is justifying the increases with big additions to the standard equipment list.

The biggest update is the addition of a fully digital instrument cluster - a 12.0-inch screen with configurable layouts and displays, which is a standard-fit item across the board. Still offered is Ford’s 8.0-inch Sync 3 media screen with sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology, and there’s now a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, too - the pre-facelift model had a nine-speaker stereo. 

All models sold in Australia will also be offered as standard with a new adjustable sports exhaust system, which includes a quiet-start function so you don’t annoy the neighbours (and who doesn't think of Mustang buyers as kind, considerate types?). The loudness is adjustable depending on which drive mode you select - Normal, Sport+, Track, Drag Race, Snow/Wet and My Mode, the latter of which is a customisable setting, also new to Mustang. The steering can still be configured in Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. 

Visually separating the two models are different wheel designs, but all Mustang models come with auto headlights, auto wipers, keyless entry and push-button start, new LED headlights, heated seats and a heated steering wheel (which is new to the Mustang - the heated seats aren’t). Recaro seats are optional on the GT only ($3000). 

There’s an array of active safety kit added across the range, too - read about that in the safety section below.

There are some key optional extras that buyers can choose from. A set of OTT (yes, it stands for ‘Over The Top’) stripes can be had in black on any model ($650), or white on the Fastback only ($650) There’s also a rear spoiler for the Fastback ($750), and Recaro leather seats ($3000).

The EcoBoost model can be had with 19-inch Lustre Nickel alloy wheels ($500), while GT buyers have the option of 19-inch forged alloys ($2500).

All models can be equipped with the MagneRide adaptive suspension system at a cost of $2750. 

As for colours, there are a few to choose from, including the new hero colour, Orange Fury, plus Kona Blue, Lightning Blue, Magnetic grey, Race Red, Royal Crimson (dark red), Triple Yellow and plainer options like white and black. 


Subaru BRZ8/10

Like most models over the past two years, the new BRZ arrives with a price-hike, but when you consider the base manual only comes in $570 over the outgoing model and the automatic comes in just $2,210 (while carrying significantly more equipment) over the equivalent 2021 version, that’s a major win for enthusiasts.

The range has been tweaked slightly, with two variants both available as a manual or automatic.

The base car wears a before on-road costs price tag of $38,990, and includes 18-inch alloy wheels (up from 17s on the previous car), clad in vastly superior Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, full LED exterior lights with new designs, dual-zone climate control with a more aesthetically pleasing cluster in the dash, a new 7.0-inch digital dash display, a new 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in sat-nav, a synthetic leather-bound wheel and gear knob, seats trimmed in cloth, a reversing camera, keyless entry with push-start ignition, and a significant upgrade to the rear-facing safety suite, which we’ll look at later.

The automatic model ($42,790) is identically specified but swaps the six-speed manual for a six-speed torque converter automatic with paddle-shift manual mode.

The additional price-hike over the manual version is more than compensated for, however, by the inclusion of Subaru’s signature 'EyeSight' forward-facing dual-camera based safety suite, which would have required significant engineering input to include.

This is all without covering the updates to the car’s platform, suspension and bigger, punchier engine which fans have been crying out for since day one, all of which we’ll look at later in this review.

The top-spec S version mirrors the equipment list of the base car but upgrades the seat trim to a blend of synthetic leather and ‘ultrasuede’ with a heating function for front occupants.

The S version wears an additional cost of $1200 for a price tag of $40,190 for the manual or $43,990 for the auto.

While that may still seem quite a bit for such a small and relatively simple vehicle, in the context of the category it is excellent value.

Its most obvious rival, the Mazda MX-5, wears a minimum MSRP of $42,000 while providing significantly less performance from its 2.0-litre engine.

Engine & trans

Ford Mustang9/10

There have been power and torque increases across both the four-cylinder turbo and V8 naturally aspirated engines.

The 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo EcoBoost engine now produces 224kW of power (down from 233kW - apparently due to a new way of calculating the peak power output!) at 5400rpm, but torque is bumped to 441Nm at 3000rpm (it was 432Nm). It is rear-wheel drive, as you’d expect, and it has the option of a six-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

The 5.0-litre V8 engine has seen power and torque bumps, too. It now produces 336kW of power at 7000rpm (up from 306kW), and torque is rated at 556Nm at 4600rpm (previously 530Nm). 

The extra power is good, no doubt about it. But the extra noise of the V8 is what was most enticing about it. More on that below. 


Subaru BRZ9/10

Some of the best news for previous owners of the BRZ is here. The old 2.0-litre Subaru boxer engine (152kW/212Nm) has been replaced by a larger 2.4-litre unit, with a significant hike to the outputs, now sitting at a respectable 174kW/250Nm.

While the engine code has migrated from FA20 to FA24, Subaru says it's more than just a bored-out version, with changes across the injection and port system to the connecting rods, as well as tweaks to the intake system and various materials used throughout.

The aim is smoothing out the torque curve and reinforcing engine parts to handle the increased output, while optimising fuel economy.

The available transmissions, a six-speed torque converter automatic and six-speed manual, have also been revised from their predecessors, with physical enhancements to smooth shifts and handle more power.

The auto's software has also been revised to make it compatible with a new safety suite it's paired with.

Drive is sent exclusively from the transmission to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Fuel consumption

Ford Mustang7/10

Mustang models sold with the 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo model are more efficient, as you’d expect. The six-speed manual coupe is claimed to use 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres, while the 10-speed auto coupe model has a claimed consumption of 9.5L/100km.

The convertible version with the EcoBoost uses 9.5L/100km with the standard 10-speed auto.

As for the V8 coupe, the six-speed manual uses a claimed 13.0L/100km, while the 10-speed auto helps drop consumption to 12.7L/100km. The V8 auto convertible claims an identical figure as the fastback: 12.7L/100km. 


Subaru BRZ7/10

With the higher engine displacement comes a bump in fuel consumption for the BRZ.

The official combined consumption is now 9.5L/100km for the manual, or 8.8L/100km for the automatic version, up from 8.4L/100km and 7.8L/100km respectively in the previous 2.0-litre.

We didn’t pull an as-tested number from the launch event as we were sampling multiple vehicles in a host of different conditions.

Stay tuned for a follow-up review to see if the official numbers were as surprisingly close as they were for the previous car.

The BRZ also continues to require top-shelf 98RON unleaded fuel and has a 50-litre tank.

Driving

Ford Mustang8/10

I spent the most time in the V8 model, and it wasn't so much the extra power and torque that was noticeable, as the extra noise. If you were blindfolded and sat in the new Mustang, you might think you’re sitting in a ‘70s yank tank - there’s a delightful burble at idle (a little more pronounced in the auto) and it gets even better the faster you go.

In fact, the 10-speed auto V8 was the standout vehicle I drove. The logic of the transmission is brilliant - if you suddenly stab the throttle the auto will downshift three or four gears in the blink of an eye - and I mean that literally, because you can barely perceive it via the display on the driver information screen; it happens that fast.

The shifts aren’t always smooth - there can be a perceptible thunk through the cabin at times - and while that may not be the most refined experience, it’s actually pretty rewarding as a driver to get that sort of feel-able feedback. 

The manual version of the V8 feels more relaxed - I’d even go as far as to suggest it’s a bit lazy. The auto just does a better job of making use of the grunt on offer.

The multi-mode sports exhaust - with Quiet, Normal, Sport and Race Track settings - was a set-and-forget feature on my test. It was in Sport, because - while there might be a perceptible difference on a track - it was identical in ‘regular’ driving. 

Another new addition helped transform the drive experience - the MagneRide adaptive dampers. They may be optional on all models, but it seems that if you want a muscle car that handles corners and bumps adeptly, it’d be money well spent.

The magnetic ride control system can adjust each corner up to 1000 times per second, and while you’d have to be some kind of superhero to perceive that, there is no denying that the system does a terrific job of isolating cabin occupants from rough surfaces below, while also helping the Mustang corner with more sporting intent than I remember the previous one possessing. 

The steering is trustworthy, with good feel and a nice linear and progressive sensation to it when you’re changing direction. The Mustang does have a big turning circle, though, so making tight moves in parking spots can be a bit of a task.

I also had a drive of the EcoBoost engine and its new 10-speed auto, and found it felt more tense and eager to please than the V8, particularly the V8 manual. It’s noticeably lighter at the front end, meaning it feels more keen for hard driving in corners.

Try as it might, though, the four-cylinder simply can’t match the V8 for fitting the image of the Mustang. It is good to drive, but it just doesn’t sound as good, or as Mustang, and therefore doesn’t make you feel as good as the V8 model does. 


Subaru BRZ9/10

Subaru talked a big game on things like chassis rigidity (a 60 per cent lateral bending improvement, and 50 per cent more torsional stiffness for those interested) but to actually feel the difference we were offered the opportunity to drive the old and new car back-to back.

The result was telling, while the new car’s power levels and responsiveness are notably improved, the new suspension and stiffer frame combine with those new Pilot Sport tyres to deliver a decisive dynamic improvement across the board.

While the old car was famous for being twitchy and easy to slide, the new car manages to maintain a sense of playfulness whilst adding a lot more confidence when needed.

This means you can still do doughnuts with ease on a skidpan, but carry more speed with the extra grip available through S-bends on a track.

Even driving the car on a tame back road, it's easy to tell how much firmer the frame is, and how the suspension has been adjusted to compensate.

The car is still packed full of feel, but not as brittle as the outgoing model when it comes to the suspension and damper tune. Smart.

The new engine feels every bit the upgrade it claims to be, with more consistent torque through the rev range, and a notable jump in responsiveness.

The engine's pretty distant at commuter speeds, only communicating the signature rugged boxer tone at higher revs.

Unfortunately, this improvement doesn't extend to the tyre noise, of which there is a lot.

This is somehow never a strong point for Subarus, and doubly so here with a car so firm and close to the ground, with bigger alloys and stiffer suspension.

I suppose this consideration is not high on the list for the typical BRZ customer.

The interior materials are a little less dingy than they were before, but with identical key action points in terms of the small radius steering wheel, as well as the easy-access shifter and handbrake, the BRZ continues to be an absolute ergonomic joy to operate, even when the car is completely sideways (on the skid pan...).

The steering tune is as natural as it comes, allowing you to feel even more at one with what the tyres are doing.

One odd little downside here is the inclusion of Subaru’s odd touch indicators as seen on the new Outback. They’re the kind which don’t lock into position when you use them.

I don’t know why Subaru is intent on introducing these when BMW famously tried (unsuccessfully) to popularise them in the mid ‘00s.

I’m sure we’ll have more to say on this car’s road-going capabilities when we have a chance to do a longer on-road test, but having the opportunity to drive the old and new back-to-back put the new car in context.

It’s everything you loved about the old one, but just a bit more grown-up. I like it a lot.

Safety

Ford Mustang6/10

This is a difficult section to score, because the updated Mustang has a lot of safety equipment, but it falls short on the ANCAP crash test score. It was tested by Euro NCAP in 2017, and managed a lowly three stars, due to poor crash protection for occupants. 

At the very least, that’s a step up on the pre-facelift model, which scored just two stars in ANCAP testing in 2017. ANCAP has announced the updated Mustang achieves the same three-star score as Europe (from December 2017 production).

Despite that, the 2018 Mustang comes fitted with a lengthy list of safety gear, including dual front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags (no curtains on the convertible model). Plus there’s a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam headlights and auto wipers.

So, with all the gear, 6/10 seems harsh. But if you have a crash, the Mustang has been deemed to be less safe for occupants than other cars out there, so it’s a justifiable score. 


Subaru BRZ8/10

Safety has improved out of sight, at least on automatic BRZ variants, as Subaru has managed to fit its signature stereo-camera-based EyeSight safety equipment to the little sports coupe.

It’s worth noting the BRZ is the only car with a torque converter transmission to be fitted with the system, as the rest of the brand's range uses continuously variable automatic transmissions.

This means, for the auto, active safety functions have expanded to include auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a host of other conveniences like lead vehicle start alert, and auto high beam assist.

Like the auto, the manual version features all the rear-facing active equipment, that is the rear AEB, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Elsewhere, the BRZ gets seven airbags (the standard front, side, and head, plus a driver’s knee) and the required suite of stability, traction, and brake controls.

The previous-generation BRZ had a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, but to an older 2012 standard. No assessment for the new car, so far.

Ownership

Ford Mustang9/10

Ford has recently introduced a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, applicable to all vehicles purchased from May 1, 2018. That’s a nice touch from the brand, which needs to appeal to customers now more than ever.

As with most Ford products, the Mustang has service intervals every 12 months/15,000km, and the company has a capped-price service plan applicable for the life of its cars. Prices can be found on the company’s website, but to give you an idea, the average cost per year for the first five years if you stick within the 15,000km interval bracket works out to $372 for the four-cylinder and $477 for the V8.

If you’re worried about Mustang problems - be it questions over reliability, engine problems, transmission problems or general issues - be sure to check our Ford Mustang problems page.


Subaru BRZ7/10

Like the rest of the Subaru range, the BRZ is covered by a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty, including 12 months of roadside assist, which is on-par with its mainstream rivals.

It is also covered by a capped price servicing program, which is surprisingly transparent now, including parts and labour costs.

Unfortunately, it’s not particularly cheap, with services varying between $344.62 and $783.33 for a yearly average over the first 75,000km/60 months of $494.85 for the automatic model. A small amount can be saved by choosing the manual.

It will be interesting to see if Toyota blows the Subaru out of the water by applying its famously cheap servicing to the BRZ’s 86 twin, set to launch later in 2022.