… Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost …
After a week with the 2.3 litre EcoBoost Mustang, feelings and thoughts are mixed. At first it felt like watching that Francis Ford Coppola epic war drama, ‘Apocalypse Now’, but to the soundtrack of the Archers. ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, it ain’t, more like the Magic Roundabout.
However, once you get over that initial disappointing impression and actually drive the thing, it fair puts a smile on your face. Of course it looks the part having exactly the same bodywork wrapped around the 5 litre V8 version that it has on this half-sized four pot with its turbocharger. It also lacks the power of a few horses – about a stampede’s worth. The ‘wee’ engine generates 313 bhp compared to its musclebound bigger brother with 410 bhp and it doesn’t sound anywhere near as fruity as the big capacity V8 job.
On the other hand, it’s lighter. About 65 kgs lighter. And all at the front. That makes the pony noticeably more nimble than the carthorse. The turn-in is a lot sharper and that puts the whole thing into perspective. This is more of a sports car than a grand tourer, and all the more enjoyable for it.
It also has a ‘Sport’ button and that makes another difference. It’s like giving a horse a shot of Butazolodin. Everything sharpens up including turbo response. The engine note also gets a bit gruffer, but lacks the melodic multi-cylinder musicality of the V8, and that for me was the only real drawback.
The suspension remains firm and sometimes bumpy as it struggles to cope with British ‘B’ class roads but well within acceptable limits so that when you do want to get somewhere quick this will put a smile on your face. In standard mode the turbo lag is noticeable and it requires a firm shove on the accelerator to tell it to get a move on, but once above 4000 rpm the seat backs take the strain of added g-forces. Not quite warp factor quick but more than enough to temper the speed demon lurking within the soul.
A run through the Dalveen Pass and back up through the Leadhills in the Summer (!) sunshine is one of motoring life’s last great joys especially with such a grand view down the long sculpted bonnet.
The suspension handles the undulations pretty well, soaking up them up and providing a nice soft ride, but the 19 inch wheels rattle over the bumps and pot-holes. Having said that, there are a few supposedly more luxurious European ‘executive’ saloons which do a more effective job of loosening the bladder.
In terms of cornering it may lack the nimble precision of a small hot hatch, but the Mustang is still a satisfying thing to drive quickly. It turns in well, the car leans into the bend and the weight shifts to the rear as the momentum catches up. Not in a threatening manner, but in a controlled, dig-in and grip fashion while keeping the driver completely informed of progress. There was never a thought of the back end breaking away – unless you dropped a gear and floored it. Yes, it can be provoked!
Combined with its looks and on-road presence, this is a most enjoyable car to drive, except that it still attracts too much attention. The folk in the know will quickly spot that it’s not a V8 while the not so knowledgeable may wonder why it doesn’t sound the way Steve McQueen’s car did in Bullitt. That still doesn’t stop the rubberneckers peering in and pointing. That’s OK for celebrities and other attention seekers, just not for me. Which is a pity, because I really liked it.
Just one more thing. The boot lid. There is no handle on the outside or the inside. Pop the button to open it, but there’s no pull handle on the inside to close it. It’s still very much a hand on top, slam-dunk operation to shut it. But then that just about sums up the character of this automotive leviathan. Sophisticated it’s not, personality in plenty.
If the V8 is the full fat steak-burger then this is the vegetarian option, but what I missed most was the melodious beat of 8 cylinders working in harmony. The choice is yours, the presence and noise of the V8, or the poise and economy of the Ecoboost Turbo? Phew! Tough call.
And another thing. It’s 4 grand cheaper than the beast. It’s still a lot of car for less than £32,000! That might just swing it.