22 Dec: Mustang GT 5.0 V8

… Ford Mustang GT 5.0 V8 …

But I would drive 500 miles, and I would drive 500 more” – if only I could afford the petrol.
Just to be the man who’s driven a thousand miles to fall down at your door” – broke and penniless.

Apologies to the boys but I couldn’t help it. The Mustang has that effect. This is not just a car. This is the very essence of a time and a way of life that we’ll never see again. When hippies, flower power and micro buses took to the roads of America and the Beach Boys were making music in the surf, and while Steve McQueen was car-chasing the baddies, there was one soundtrack that stood out above all else. The sensual beat of a big V8 with straight through pipes.

King of the road was the Mustang and small boys this side of the Atlantic lusted after its looks and its sounds. Most bedrooms had a Mustang poster alongside the Corvette, Camaro and the Charger, the GTO, Barracuda and of course the Cobra and my bedroom wall was no different, although admittedly they had to share space with the big Healey – and the Austin Atlantic (don’t laugh!).

Of course there are better cars and faster cars these days than the latest Mustang, but damn few current cars capture the appeal and aura of this cultural automotive deity.

When I first drove one of the new 6th generation cars two years ago there was a slight tinge of disappointment. It looked the part, but it didn’t sound it. Ford had made too good a job of satisfying the carpet slipper brigade. Fast forward two years and ‘active’ exhausts provide the essential aural attraction. At tickover and gentle cruise, the wufflng noise is perfectly well behaved, but give it the beans and the beast bellows into angry life.

At idle, the car rocks gently from side to side while the exhaust gases in their tacketty boots saunter down the headers and tail pipes rattling along the insides, blip the throttle and they break into a cacophonic run. Floor it, and they gallop out the tail pipe like a herd of stampeding buffalo on the flat plains of America. Magic, pure unadulterated magic.

It’s a throwback to more honest times. It’s as American as the Blues Brothers and just as likeable. Even those who were small boys in the 80s and 90s, reared on things like the MX5 and MR2, MG F and the Elise, recognise this white line legend.

Whereas the original Mustang looked long, lean and somewhat spindly, the latest generation is unmistakably pure ‘muscle’ car. It’s wider, longer and heavier than the original but it’s what lies under the bonnet that makes it special.

The latest version of its 5 litre V8 has benefitted from a power increase, up from 415 bhp to 460 with a massive 527 Nm of torque. That may sound a lot, but it doesn’t mean it’s too hot to handle. Nope, this thing is a big pussy cat if you keep the revs and the noise down. It just dawdles and wuffles along till you find a quiet stretch of road, and then dig in the spurs.

There is a feeling of heft to the controls which also adds to the sense of occasion. The six speed ‘box, the pedals and the steering are not quite finger-tip or toe-tip light, but you couldn’t call them heavy, just mechanically precise. It takes quite a determined prod on the throttle to waken it up, and maybe that’s a good thing, because this thing accelerates like a rocket. After the initial tyre smoking explosion, the linear delivery of power just comes in one solid, relentless, back-thrusting shove of sheer adrenaline.

Apart from 1st into 2nd, there’s no real additional shove from any of the higher four gears, it’s just a constant rolling wave of sheer unadulterated pleasure accompanied by the hair-raising thunderous cacophany from the quad pipe engine ventilators at the rear. This is one occasion when the convertible is preferable to the fastback, you can hear it better!

The car handles much better than those who claim that American sports cars “don’t do corners” especially since the test car was fitted with the £1600 optional MagneRide Suspension System. Using four MR dampers, an array of motion sensors transmit information to an electronic control unit (at 1,000 times per second) then divert magnetic energy to each damper as needed. This increases or decreases the MR fluid’s viscosity and adapts performance to the road conditions. There are three adaptive drive modes which can be selected on the move – Normal, Sport, and Track.

The result is a monster that behaves like a gazelle. The trouble is, with the comfortable ride and the effortless power delivery, the driver can be lulled into a false sense of the actual pace of progress. It’s just so easy to get carried away, so a an eye has to be kept on the speedo constantly. It can be deceptively quick.

It’s also easy to recognise which ‘mode’ the car is in as the dashboard display changes to suit the mode selected, even including a ‘Christmas Tree’ traffic light logo for drag-strip style traction control!

Take the other day for instance. I fancied a coffee, and because the Mustang was in the drive, I remembered there is a wee cafe in Moffat High Street where you can sit in the window and watch the world go by. And it’s only 45 miles from home.

However, the M74 is not the ideal road south for the Mustang. Nope, the best route is to take the bits of the old ‘A74’ now re-classified as the B7078/B7076 from the Douglas turn-off at Happendon Services to the turn-off at the B719 over the Greenhillstairs road which drops you into the northern approach to Moffat.

The idea then is to get a parking spot in the centre of the High Street opposite the cafe window from which you can watch the Mustang and amuse yourself watching folk gawp, stop and peer at the bright orange apparition gracing this quaint tourist hotspot. Such an innocent pleasure, while contemplating the run home again. The Mustang makes you do things like that.

Perhaps the craziest thing is the price. A basic 5 litre Mustang costs £41,745.00, whereas the test car had a few extras including additional special trim in the cabin, Recaro fully electric and climate controlled seats and 19 inch wheels which added six grand to the price. That just has to be good value. Forget the performance factor, think of the joy and the fun.

Gawd I love this car. As I said there are better and faster motors but none quite like this.

( P.S. If you click on the images they will enlarge – start drooling now! )

  • Review Date: December 22, 2018
  • Price
  • Engine
  • Performance
  • Economy
  • CO2 emissions