I’m still pinching myself, unable to believe I’ve finally driven the legendary Ford Mustang muscle vehicle. It’s an automobile I’ve only heard about and seen in images and films. But now it’s arrived, and what better way to welcome it than with a roaring naturally aspirated V8 beneath that big hood? It took more than 50 years for this original American pony vehicle to arrive on our shores. Was it, therefore, well worth the wait? As we drove this legend across the beautifully flowing 5.1km Buddh international circuit in Noida, the answers came pouring in.
Despite being the first Mustang to be designed for the global market, it retains the same substantial proportions of its predecessor. It currently has many design inspirations from the current Ford lineup, such as narrow headlamps, yet its design language is distinctly Ford. The high grille, muscular wheel arches, strong crease running across the side, and dramatic rectangular tail lamps are all Mustang-esque features that will draw everyone’s attention as you drive by.
With two pronounced creases sliced across the side and a tapering roofline that fades into the stubby boot, the profile seems familiar. It gives the car a more dynamic appearance and helps it stand out from the crowd of typical sports cars. The massive wheel arches and the enormous 19-inch wheels add to the muscular appearance. But it’s from the back that this car appears to be the most dangerous. The boot is wide, the three slat tail lamps are rustic, and the twin tail pipes hint at what’s under the hood. Unlike the previous Mustang’s boxy proportions, the new Mustang has a more rounded appearance, but Ford has done an excellent job of preserving the essence of what this pony car represents.
When you open the enormous, wide doors, you’re greeted by a dashboard that seems like a modern spin on classic Mustang styling. The twin-pod instrument cluster, three circular centre vents, toggle switches for several driving modes, and the ‘Since 1964’ emblem all indicate that you are driving a vehicle with a long history. The music system’s knurled knobs are also of exceptional quality and add to the retro mood inside. You also get a touchscreen interface that looks a lot like the one on the new Endeavour and isn’t the most user-friendly.
Because to the lack of a B-pillar and the huge windows, vision is excellent, and the cabin seems spacious and airy. The thick-rimmed steering wheel has an unusually large number of buttons, including 18 for the audio system, Bluetooth, cruise control, and voice command system. Though there are some retro aspects in the cabin, the atmosphere isn’t as distinct as it is in the new Audi TT, and it doesn’t make you feel as special. Although the quality is good, some of the plastics do not have a soft feel to them. The plastics on the dash and door pads, in particular, lacked a soft touch and that all-important costly sensation.
The front seats are finely shaped and comfy, with strong lateral support. However, they are a little too high for my taste. Although the Mustang is a large car on the outside, the room in the back is ideal for short trips with children.
Driven by Results
The Mustang is powered by a strong 5-litre V8, and while its 400bhp power output may seem modest, it is the Mustang’s performance on the move that really impresses. For starters, there is plenty of power as soon as you put on the pedal, and the engine is smooth and free-revving despite its age. This huge bore motor starts up with a loud gurgle and settles down to a vibration-free idle as soon as you click the starter button. I was launched forward in a long linear burst as soon as I opened the taps on this naturally aspirated V8 on Buddh’s kilometer-long straight, and I felt so serene in the Mustang that I even had time to glance at the speedo, which was pushing 240kmph. What was equally impressive was how adaptable this motor was. You can get away with being in a higher gear coming out of the slower curves, such as the final corner. This is an excellent feature because it compensates for the 6-speed automatic gearbox’s delayed response and unpredictable behaviour. Upshifts are slow, and it refuses to downshift near the redline, which is crucial when driving aggressively.
When Ford invited us to drive the Mustang on a racetrack, we were a little taken aback. The straight-line thrust of this muscle car is more well-known than its corner cutting ability. But that is no longer the case. The new Mustang is equipped with contemporary all-independent suspension as well as technologies that allow you to engage in bends that the old Mustang could only dream of. With good stability and fantastic grip, the Mustang felt exceptionally steady and surefooted, especially over lengthy curves. It has a lot of grip thanks to its long wheelbase, wide stance, and wide tyres, and there’s essentially no shifting even at high speeds. Of course, you can’t fool physics, and this 1.8-tonne car feels front heavy and washes wide at will thanks to the big V8 lump. All that girth can be a little frightening at first in the track’s tighter technical turns. However, there is a technique to control this beast. The best way to drive this car is to enter corners slowly and then use all of the V8 torque to propel you out. It will, of course, wag its tail if you are a little too eager on the throttle. But it happens so gradually that it’s more entertaining than frightening. Because of the car’s weight, the Brembo brakes will take a beating if you drive it aggressively for an extended period of time with significant fade. So, while this isn’t a Porsche Cayman, it’s still a lot of fun to drive hard.
Yes, if you want to attract attention wherever you go. The Mustang’s massive road presence will bring you a slew of admirers. It also boasts a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine that provides it plenty of power and guarantees a big smile behind the wheel. It does, however, have several flaws. The gearbox is slow, the plastics aren’t terrific, and the cabin isn’t particularly appealing. You get a lot of American muscle for your money with this car, which costs Rs 65 lakh (ex-Delhi). The Mustang has a long history, is a cultural icon, and is now better than ever. I’m willing to sell my kidneys to get one.