Ford knows how to do a facelift the right way. They fitted the new Mustang with new tech, a new transmission and more power. Just the way we like it. Add to the package more adaptive suspension and practically all modern safety features you can think of and the Mustang is more desirable than ever. With supercar performance for less than half the price, it’s understandable why the Mustang is such a popular car and probably will become even more with this latest iteration.
The new Mustang is still very much a Mustang. When the sixth-generation of the muscle car launched in Australia in 2016 it came in with a boom, where most changes to the 2018 model are inside rather than outside. Unless you put them side-by-side you probably won’t notice the reshaped bonnet (now without the so-called ‘power bulge’) and added air vents. Or the fact that the grill is 60mm broader. From the back the changes are even less apparent, except for the quad exhaust tips that look menacing and slightly updated LED taillights.
This is a good thing though, because the Mustang was already a good looking car that just got a little tighter, sharper and cooler. It still draws attention when it drives by, especially the rumbling sound its V8 produces. The changes inside on the other hand make all the difference to the appearance of the car; a fully digital dash, upgraded leather on the seats and more buttons on the steering wheel than you can count.
The Ford Mustang has been praised for its driving dynamics since its inception and only improved ever since. For the new model, that’s partly thanks to the standard fitted Ford Performance Package that includes a limited-slip differential and Brembo brakes, but overall, it’s the low centre of gravity, powerful engine and excellent chassis tuning that continue this reputation. You could opt for the MagneRide dampening system that automatically adjusts 1000 times per second to changing road conditions, but that’s more a personal preference depending on how you drive your pony.
Most control on the Mustang comes from the five different drive modes, ranging from Normal and Sport (+) to Track and even Drag Strip. The changing dynamics of the car can be felt directly – the steering becomes more responsive, the engine holds its revs and the ride becomes stiffer. In Normal, with the steering mode in the same mode or on ‘comfort’ the Mustang can safely be driven by anybody with any decency. Especially if you use the adaptive exhausts ‘quiet’ mode that allows you to electronically preselect a timeframe to start up in relative silence. Put it in ‘Track’ however – adjust the valves to open up fully - (the traction control will turn off automatically) and you can go wild. Very wild.
Whichever mode you choose however, the power is seamlessly distributed through the new, refined 10-speed automatic gearbox. Purists might choose the 6-speed manual, but for performance, every day driving and improved technology the auto should be on top of your list. It doesn’t sequentially shuffle ratios needlessly nor is it hyperactive. It’s simply the best way to put the increased power (33kW and 26Nm to 339kW and 556Nm) to the street. And when ‘Drag Strip’ mode is enabled it launches you from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds!
The first thing you’ll notice when stepping in the new Mustang will be the high-tech 12.4-inch digital drivers screen. This is your cockpit from which you control literally everything within the car. How it drives, sounds and even how it looks by setting your ambient colour from no less than 30 options. A bit gimmicky perhaps, but for those that will take their Mustang to the track it’s handy to get all measurements available: lateral and longitudinal g-forces, acceleration times and even automatic and countdown start options. Even the gauges can be personalised, which means no one Mustang will be the same.
The rest of the cabin stayed quite the same, apart from the upgraded soft touch points, added stitching and some more satin-chrome detailing. It all stays a bit plastic though, but not in a cheap way. The overload of buttons on the steering wheel might be overwhelming at first, but once you get to know how to work them and when to use the modest 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard that it fitted with the upgraded Sync3 software, reversing camera and satellite navigation as standard, it all works like a charm.
The new Mustang is probably the closest you can get to owning a car fitted with a V8 that boosts supercar performance figures. Its gives you bang for your buck and a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel. The approximately five grand increase in price mainly comes from the fact that the Mustang is now finally a ‘safe car’. The outgoing model was given a good kicking because of its safety credentials with a miserable two-star ANCAP safety rating. Now, the Mustang is fitted with LKA (Lane Keep Assist), LDW (Lane-Departure Warning), AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) with pedestrian detection, AHB (Auto High-Beam) and ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control). Not only does this provide you with a safer, but also a more comfortable ride in heavy traffic or urban areas.
Then there are the numerous ways of customizing your Mustang that can add to the price, from rear spoiler and race striping to forged aluminium wheels and the mentioned MagneRide damping system. Considerable, but not necessary.
A muscle car with plenty of muscle. A roaring pony that needs to run free. That’s the new Mustang. Ford changed a few small things in its appearance and gave it an overhaul inside. They tinkered with what was missing and accentuated what was already good, exactly how a facelift should be done. Except for the new gearbox the Mustang is not refined, nor should it be. It’s V8 has soul and though you can quiet it down, it can be like a wild, loud animal if desired. The improvements give it more low-end torque and top-end performance with a rich, bold exhaust note. This Mustang is even more desirable than it already was. The new Mustang comes with 5 year/unlimited kilometre warranty.