Good value, great fun and a good deal of character
It's difficult not to be charmed by the Mustang and its honest approach. It offers good value, great fun and a good deal of character, something which can be lacking in more sophisticated European rivals. Overall it is less capable and refined than some other offerings, but the flip side is a car that delivers a sense of occasion from behind the wheel.
The Mustang may be a relatively inexpensive car to buy but running costs will certainly be higher than average. Fuel consumption is high, insurance costs are likely to be above average and servicing will be more costly than a regular Ford.
Standard sports seats with generous support make for a comfortable driving position in the Mustang, and there is reasonable headroom despite the relatively low roof. Leg and elbow room are both good for front-seat occupants. In the rear it's less impressive, and adults even of average height will find head and legroom in short supply. Boot space however is good, with 408 litres of space on offer in a well-shaped area.
Happily the Mustang has a relatively simple layout, with the main instruments finished in classic black and white. Minor controls are located on the steering wheel and centre console, although some functions can only be accessed through the vehicle menu displayed between the main instruments.
Considering the performance on offer the Mustang is quite a comfortable car in which to spend time. The ride quality is relatively firm but not harsh, and although noise levels do pick up a little at speed
As standard all Mustang versions come complete with an alarm and immobiliser system, electronically locking steering wheel and centre console and locking wheel nuts.
The new architecture that underpins the Mustang is designed for maximum crashworthiness, and the long bonnet provides a generous impact structure. On the active safety front the Mustang comes with a three-stage ESP systems as standard, EBA and ABS. One new feature is dubbed Active Glovebox, which uses the door of the glovebox as part of the airbag system to help protect the passenger's knees.
What sets the Mustang apart from its rivals is the emphasis on fun rather than outright prowess or lap times, and it is this that makes it enjoyable to drive in a variety of conditions. The V8 engine has character, although it is not as loud as it could be, but the generous torque makes short work of regular driving but also rapid acceleration when demanded. The rest of the driving experience is engaging too, although the steering works best when in Sport mode. Grip is plentiful and it responds accurately to inputs, and while it is not a scalpel-sharp driving tool it flatters the driver and is unquestionably great fun.
As much as children may well find the Mustang an exciting car to have on the driveway it is not best placed to perform as a family wagon. The rear seats would be awkward for getting small children in and out of, and while older children will be able to squeeze in the back themselves they will soon run out of headroom as they approach adulthood.
The Mustang is not a suitable car for new drivers; even in lower-powered form it is a fast, rear-wheel-drive machine with reduced visibility. Even though it offers good value it still requires quite a sizeable outlay and will be expensive for an inexperienced driver to insure.
The Mustang is designed to be an affordable car, as with its predecessors, and one area where the saving of money is evident is with some of the cabin materials. Although relatively sturdy some elements are of lesser quality than might be found on rival offerings, although the actual build standard appears to be good. The Mustang makes up for this with an image that is hard to bear; its highly distinctive looks and long history are a huge appeal.
Getting into the front of the Mustang is the work of a moment with a long door on each side, and although the roof is relatively low it's easy to drop down into the low-set seat. Getting into the rear is more troublesome however, with a slightly fiddly release mechanism and limited room once you are there.
As standard the Mustang comes with an 8-inch touchscreen system including nine speakers, DAB radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. For a small additional sum a premium Shaker system can be added which includes satellite navigation. With a large and clear touchscreen the system is easy to operate, especially with the standard voice control system.
As expected for a car with a strong visual style the Mustang can be specified in a range of hues from sober to vivid. Brighter shades such as red and yellow work very well, while darker offerings give a more discreet option. The same goes for the cabin where there is a choice of three colour finishes with leather as standard.
With a relatively restricted rear view the Mustang does require a little care when parking. Parking sensors are not standard but can be added for a modest sum, or are bundled in with the Custom Pack.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.
Petrol engine options – 2.3-litre (310bhp)Â ; 5.0-litre (412bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox as standard, six-speed automatic optional. Trim levels are engine-dependent.