One Horse Race

With the demise of the Australian car manufacturing industry we have lost the famous ‘Ford vs Holden’ V8 battle on our roads. Who was best? It depended if you were born into a Ford Family or a Holden Family. But now with no V8 Holden cars available for purchase, the Ford Mustang has come into its own. No need to consult the official sales figures, Mustangs in nearly every colour imaginable are everywhere to be seen.

Why are they so popular? Well for me it’s three simple factors; they look good, sound good and as tested my Mustang cost just $66,940 plus on-road costs. The look of the Mustang is not that of a sportscar with beautiful lines that you just want to run your hands over, but rather a rugged beauty. The sound is thanks to the V8 engine and the Active Valve Exhaust that has Quiet, Normal, Sport and Race Track modes and if you have sensitive neighbours there is even quiet start mode.  

The Mustang has a 5.0 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine that produces 339kW of power @ 7,000rpm and 556Nm of torque @ 4,600rpm. There may be more powerful and torquey engines out there, but these figures are enough to keep you entertained in the rear wheel drive coupe as you chase the 7,400rpm red line. When I collected the Mustang the roads were wet so I had to be very cautious on the accelerator! The official combined fuel consumption is 12.7L/100km for the automatic version of the V8 and for my week I used 15.3L/100km.

5.0 litres of V8 American Muscle, now wholeheartedly loved by Australians!

The automatic gearbox has 10 gears and this was too many for my liking. In auto mode the gear changes were sluggish and in manual mode using the paddle shifters they were only reasonably responsive, but not as good as I would expect for a sportscar.

There are five pre-set drive modes to choose from Normal, Sport+, Track, Drag Strip and Snow/Wet. The ride quality is OK in Normal mode, but a bit rough in Sport+ mode. The Mustang also gives you the option to configure your preferred settings for exhaust, steering and suspension under ‘My Mode’. Once you are happy with your set-up you hold down OK to save it and then you simply select My Mode when you get in the car. Or for quick set-up changes you simply press the Mustang button on the steering wheel to access the set-up options.

There are so many options to individualise your Mustang and I had a whole lot of fun with the colour selections under My Colour for ambient lighting and dash gauges. The My Colour palette is almost infinite as you have a colour wheel to select from. In addition to the My Colour selection for ambient lighting there are 11 standard colours to choose from. Even the Mustang writing on door sill changes colour with your ambient lighting selection.

The 12” digital driver’s instrument cluster appearance is also configurable; my favourite was Race Track with the rpm indicated across the top of the dash and digital speedo. The Mustang also has Track Apps including Acceleration timer, Brake performance, Lap Timer and Start Options these include Auto, Drag Strip with Countdown and Race Track with Countdown. Of course these should only be ever used on the race track.

My Mustang had the standard seats fitted that are heated and cooled with 6-way power driver seat with power lumbar and manual back rest and front passenger misses out on lumbar support, but you can option Recaro Leather Sports Seats. The seats are not all that comfortable and do not offer much side support and the leather is not soft and the interior of the car didn’t smell all that nice, but the Mustang I drove did have 10,000km on the odometer.

The back seats are not suited for adults, with little leg and head room available, and no-one over about 140cm tall would comfortably fit back there. It’s not quite as bad as the Toyota 86, we were all able to fit in the Mustang, but it was under some protest from the back seat passengers and it didn’t help that there were no rear air vents back there either. The other issue that freaked me out was my children’s heads were under the rear windscreen. So A) they would need to wear a hat if it were really hot and B) in the unlikely event of a roll-over they would be scraping along the bitumen. I know a gruesome thought, but most likely one of the reasons that the Mustang only has a 3-star ANCAP safety rating.

The rear seats have two ISOFIX/rear tether child seat restraint points, but getting into the back seat to fit the booster seat was tricky and tight. I think you would struggle to fit a full sized car seat due to the sloping nature of the roof at the back. There is also no ‘bong’ to alert you that a rear passenger has undone their seat belt. The boot is quite large though and easily swallows the weekly shop and don’t get me wrong you could use the Mustang as a family car, but there would be compromises to be made.

The Mustang has an 8″ touch screen with sat nav incorporating traffic message info and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. At front of the dash there is one USB port and a cigarette lighter; so I could show my children what one looked like ‘for real’. Under arm rest is another USB port, one 12V outlet and a light. There is also a handy sunglass holder next to the steering wheel in a sliding drawer.

The safety features included in the Mustang include eight airbags driver and passenger front, side impact, side curtain and knee airbags. There’s adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist and the assist works well and actively pulls you back into you lane. Plus Pre Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.

The Mustang may have some flaws like the heavy steering, poor turning circle, lazy gear box and the 3-star ANCAP safety rating, but it is such a fun car to drive and live with and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The raucous V8 engine just makes you smile and your accountant will like the purchase price plus the Mustang comes with a five year/unlimited km warranty.

In particularly, the Mustang made an impact on my daughter who now yells “Mustang” every time we see one and this is quite a lot. Visit your preferred Ford dealer to discover why there are so many Mustangs on our roads.

Pros Cons
Brutish good looks 3-star ANCAP safety rating
Raucous V8 engine Lazy gear box
Competitively priced Limited rear passenger head and leg room

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.