By Franky Johnson
The all-new 2016 Ford Mustang which was launched in South Africa late last year, has certainly earned its spurs as an icon, for its ability to have consistently matched respectable performance and affordable pricing since it was first introduced some 50 years ago.
The original Mustang was the catalyst that launched the American pony car to the world, and although it was challenged over the years by the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda and the Rambler Javelin, none were able to topple the Mustang which has notched up over nine-million sales sold to fans around the world.
The latest all-new 2016 Mustang is now finally available in South Africa following the introduction of right-hand drive production at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan in the USA.
The new range comprises six models - three are petrol powered turbocharged 2.3 liter EcoBoost units, and three are powered by Ford’s 5.0 liter V8 GT naturally aspirated petrol engines, and are available in convertible or fastback body styles and with a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions. The press vehicle loaned to us for this test was the top-of-the range 5.0 GT Fastback 6-speed automatic.
As far as looks go, you will not mistake the new Ford Mustang Fastback for anything but a Mustang, as it retains the right proportions, with a long hood, a compact and low greenhouse, and an extremely streamlined roof line.
Several key design features define the Mustang, including its sleek profile enabled by the steeply sloped windshield and rear glass, the contemporary execution of the car's signature trapezoidal grille and shark-bite front fascia, plus the famous three-dimensional tri-bar tail lamps, and there’s the GT badge on the boot lid to distinguish the V8 models.
Large, clear instrumentation, puts vehicle information right in front of the driver with an aviation-inspired cockpit, while ergonomic and tactile switches and knobs provide intuitive control.
The Fastback is considered to be a four seater, however calling it a 2+2 would be more appropriate, as rear space is okay for small children, but even small adults are likely to be cramped. The Mustang coupe's boot will swallow 408 liters of cargo which is fairly generous for a sport coupe. With only two up, cargo space can be significantly expanded by folding down the split rear seat back, and for the golfers, it will accommodate two golf bags.
On the inside, the classic Mustang appearance continues with a sporty looking dash, well positioned center stack, electronic aids, electric front windows, keyless entry and a rear view camera with rear parking sensors, while further down are the retro toggle switches and a start button. The cup holders are situated quite far back, which allows easier access to the gear-lever.
The Mustang is packed with new technologies providing drivers with enhanced information, control and connectivity when they want it. From Intelligent Access with push-button start to SYNC 2 and MyKey in every new Mustang built, plus MyColor gauges and high-end radio CD system with nine speakers, drivers are able to customise their time behind the wheel. Track Apps include launch control, Line Lock accelerometer, and dual electronic air temperature control.
SYNC2 lets drivers control their smartphone and multimedia devices to listen to their favourite form of entertainment. The system includes voice control, Bluetooth connectivity, 20 cm colour touch screen, dual USB ports and an SD card slot. The new Mustang’s reverse parking sensors, with visuals in the display screen, will also help in tricky parking situations.
Ford MyKey is standard on the Mustang, and the system allows for up to four keys to be programmed, controlling aspects such as vehicle speed, audio volume, driver-assist features and seatbelt reminders. An individual Tyre Pressure Monitoring System is also provided.
Convenience features in the Mustang include auto wipers and lights, adjustable LED mood lighting (which also allows you to change the colours of the gauges), puddle lamps with the projected Mustang logo, Illuminated door sills, and 8-way adjustable electric seats with heating and cooling function
The list of safety features includes eight airbags, disc brakes all round with four-channel ABS, Electronic Brake Assist, AdvanceTrac electronic stability programme with traction control, hill launch assist, auto dimming interior mirror, center high mounted stop lamp and an easy capless refueling system.
The Mustang 5.0 Fastback as tested is powered by Ford’s powerful True-Blue double overhead cam 5.0 liter Ti-VCT V8 engine with four valves per cylinder making 306 Kw at 6 500 rpm and 530 Nm of torque from just 4 250 rpm. Drive is to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.
This V8 is truly powerful. In acceleration tests, pulling off the start line from standstill and using the excellent launch control with the auto box in “drive” mode, the Mustang V8 sprinted from 0 to 100 km/h in a quick 5.0 seconds with just one gear-change, and goes on to a top speed of over 260 km/h.
Petrol consumption is given as 13.6 liters per 100 kms, but as I really did put the Mustang through its paces, the trip recorder gave me a read-out of 14.9 liters per 100 kms in the combined cycle which is still pretty good for a potent V8.
Seated behind the wheel, the all leather interior looks good with the saddle stitching adding a nice touch. The racy leather covered and heated front bucket seats are perfectly shaped, well bolstered, supportive, and eight-way electrically adjustable. The whole interior is quite luxuriously fitted out, and far better than one would expect from a “muscle” car.
Just driving the new Mustang is a pleasure, and the sound from those muscular V8’s exhausts is certainly addictive, especially under hard acceleration. Body control and the finish quality are huge improvements over any previous Mustang that I can remember.
The new independent rear suspension has given the Mustang a major boost of refinement in the way it handles on the twisty tar roads and even on poor road surfaces. Pushing hard through the corners, the Mustang, with its racy looking Ebony Black Alloy wheels shod with very low profile 255/40 R19 radials in front and wider 275/40 R19 ‘takkies” at the rear, has tremendous grip, even when the corners sharpen. To add to the sporty nature of the Mustang, the steering is precise and quick, though the ultra-sporting types may expect a bit more feedback from the road.
Through the twists and turns of narrow back roads, just tapping the toggle switches on the console will quickly adjust steering effort and engine response, while the transmission and electronic stability control settings using the available Selectable Drive Modes, will create the perfect experience at any time.
Traveling on the freeways is an absolute pleasure. Cruising at a steady 120 in 6th gear the motor turns at an easy 2 200 rpm. And for overtaking, a good prod on the accelerator pedal and the V8 immediately responds, dropping down a gear or two, giving the Mustang an instant burst of speed to get you safely by.
Ford has done an excellent job in updating this new Mustang while still retaining the traditional lines the icon is famous for. The recommended retail price for the new Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT Automatic Fastback is R899 900 which includes a four-year / 120 000 km comprehensive warranty, a five-year / 100 000km service plan, a three-year / unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year / unlimited km corrosion warranty, with service intervals every 20 000 km.