This glorious, sixth-generation Ford Mustang is going global and – in a bid to woo British buyers – the steering wheel’s on the ‘right’ side for the first time, writes Tiff Needell
Wilson Pickett sang about it in 1966 (Mustang Sally) and two years later it became an icon forever as Steve McQueen outran the bad guys in his Highland Green GT 390 (Bullit). The Ford Mustang had arrived!
Arguments about whether the name was inspired by the P-51 fighters that ruled the skies in the Second World War or the free-roaming horses of the American West will continue forever, but it was the four-legged version that became the badge emblazoned on every grill.
The Mustang also became synonymous with a new breed of car – the Pony car. Not to be confused with a Muscle car, the idea was to produce small, stylish, two-door four-seaters with long bonnets and a hint of the European about them.
Indeed the first Mustangs had little in the way of muscle, powered as they were by a 2.8-litre straight six pushing out a miserly 101bhp, but the V8 option was quickly introduced with a 4.3-litre version producing 164bhp.
As the generations of the Mustang evolved, so did the size and power of the V8s, with Shelby and Boss models featuring performance-enhancing goodies, but one thing that never changed was that they were only available with left-hand drive – until now.
Yes, the sixth-generation Mustang is going global, no longer targeted solely at its home market, and to prove Ford is making a real effort it has finally ditched the horsecart live axle and replaced it with a modern multi-link system that promises more grip and better ride quality.
There’s no doubt it’s a big improvement – and who cares about the odd bump or two when you’re driving a 414bhp Mustang and you’ve had a fiver change from jus £34,000?
You can pay £3,000 less if you opt for another Mustang first – a four-cylinder engine model. But while you’ll save on fuel, a 2.3-litre turbo just doesn’t go with the image and, let’s face it, that is half the reason you’d buy one.
The base-price V8 is my choice – a fastback coupé with a smooth, easy-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. Of course, you can save yourself the effort of pressing a clutch pedal with a £1,500 automatic and, if it’s fresh air you seek, another £4,000 will buy you the convertible.
The 32-valve, quad-cam V8 bursts into life without the great roar you might expect. You do need to use the revs to get the most out of the performance but then that, allied to the manual gearbox, is all part of true driver satisfaction.
While there may well be nine million bicycles in Beijing there has been the same number of Mustangs built in the first 50 years and, with the market expanding, that number looks set to grow even faster. But best of all, you can now visit your local TrustFord dealer to join the Mustang world.
Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT
For more information on the Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT, visit ford.co.uk/Mustang