Car Review: New Ford Mustang

We recently joined Ford South Africa to experience one of the most iconic (updated) sports cars of all time. Here’s what’s new about the new Ford Mustang…

This week local media joined Ford South Africa in the Western Cape to experience updates and enhancements to one of the most iconic sports cars of all time…

The new Ford Mustang introduces sleeker styling, enhanced engines, sharper driving dynamics and updated driver assistance technologies to customers in 2019 and beyond. As if updating the range we know and love wasn’t enough, Ford has also introduced its brutish Mustang Bullitt to the local range.  We were fortunate to take part in this exciting launch, where we spent two days getting up close and personal with the new Ford Mustang range…

Well, I’m still unraveling from two days spent with some of the most exciting cars I’ve ever driven. If I close my eyes I can still see the pony badge on the steering wheel and I can still hear the road-ripping roar of the V8’s (and sometimes the 2.3 litres too). One really develops an emotional attachment to these cars, especially once you’ve experienced them quite extensively. With a well-mapped out driving route Ford, ever so humbly, graced us with the beautiful mountain passes that led us from Cape Town to the small town of Montagu, so you can imagine the sort of picture this set as a runway for the Mustang convoy. Feast your eyes on this…

Going back to my regular daily driver has been quite an adjustment. But enough about my emotions and me, because my job here is to tell you what’s new about the new Ford Mustang…

New Ford Mustang – looks faster, drives faster

The updated Ford Mustang’s looks have been sharpened for 2019’s customers and from the very first look it….wait, let’s cut to the chase, it looks pretty damn hot! Hotter than it ever has been and while some of our parents might argue that it has steered too far away from its iconic 60’s look, in today’s contemporary sports car world I’d say that Ford has nailed it when it comes to redefining the Mustangs of today. Sorry-not-sorry, Dad! At its launch, Ford South Africa’s Design Manager Melvin Betancourt said that they’d even taken some inspiration from Darth Vadar’s mask when it came to the new Mustang’s design work! “When we were designing the new Mustang, the team wanted to make the new model look more aggressive, and one place where we found inspiration was one of the most famous screenplay villains of all time. The angled nostrils and contours of Darth Vadar’s mask became the inspiration for the Mustang’s new fog lamp scoops and front-end shape,” he says.

Out with the old, in with the new

Adding to its beefed-up exterior, the new Mustang gets a:

  • Lower hood with new wider vents
  • Modified front fenders
  • More aggressive LED Headlights
  • Re-designed grilled adds aerodynamic improvement
  • Available LED turn-signals and fog lamps as standard
  • All new angular front fascia
  • Modified trunk panel trim
  • More defined rear fascia
  • Updated rear diffuser
  • All new quad-up exhaust standard on GT model
Technologically enhanced interior

Most significant to the Mustang’s interior changes is its all-new customizable 12-inch LCD Digital Instrument Cluster. This is perhaps the first thing we noticed when hopping in – it’s super clear and brings the vehicle’s eye-catching exterior updates through to the cabin. Apart from it looking good, functionally it delivers information displays optimised to match the selected Drive Mode – similar to the Ford GT supercar. The cluster configuration will automatically change depending on which Drive Mode you’re in, and you can programme it to display a range of gauges in one of seven colours. To the left of this, placed in the centre of the dashboard, is Ford’s SYNC® 3 communications and entertainment system that lets you pair your phone via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as Bluetooth and USB connections. Entertainment and communication features can be operated using voice commands or by using pinch and swipe gestures on the central 8-inch touch screen. All in all, the new Mustang is now up-to-date and ready for 2019’s customers to enjoy their ride while staying connected.

Decorating Montagu with Mustangs

The peaceful town of Montagu welcomed our well-warmed up Mustang test units after our exhilarating drive over various twisty mountain passes from Cape Town. I’m not sure how the roads of this quaint little town didn’t crack, after carrying the heavy vibrations that came from some of the V8’s, but it was truly spectacular! We set off about our route in a 2.3-litre Convertible – enthusiastic motoring journalists had already shotgunned the V8’s – but that was okay, I was happy to save the best for last. Unfortunately, due to Cape Town’s rainy weather we weren’t able to let the top down, but I’m not particularly fixated on convertibles in the first place – I’m not quite sure why people still are. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of exciting things to enjoy about this unit, even though it is the least powerful and less sporty unit in the range. It is, however, the most fuel efficient of the lot, thanks to its EcoBoost petrol engine that has an acclaimed consumption of 8-litres/100 km. It offers 213 kW of power and an increased torque of 441 Nm (11 Nm up from its predecessor). Now I know that some may find its performance a tad underwhelming when you’re comparing it to the likes of the mighty V8s, but with a more economical option in the range Ford is considering our economical buyers out there who want to spend less time at the pump – and in South Africa, who doesn’t!? I also found that the 2.3-litre variant was easier to manage in the town, especially when it came to pulling off at busy intersections where the majority of drivers were above the age of 65 and perhaps wouldn’t appreciate any sudden loud noises. While that may defeat the point of ever owning a Mustang, I personally appreciate a sports car that can be fun (when you want it to be) but that is easy to control and tone down in regular driving conditions.

All engines in the new Mustang range (except for in the case of the Limited Edition Bullitt) are linked to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. If you want more control over gear-changing you can make use of steering-wheel mounted paddle shifts.

Nothing sedate about a V8

Bright and early, the next morning we gave the Montagu roosters a run for their money as we fired up our 5.0-litre V8 test unit. There is, however, what Ford calls a ‘Good Neighbour Mode’ that can be programmed to automatically limit the exhaust’s noise output at pre-programmed times of the day to avoid disturbing the neighbours, but we were clearly far too excited for consideration. Now we were awake – and so was the rest of the town who excitedly greeted us at street corners and asked us to “MAKE IT SING!” as we headed out of town.

Recalling the spec sheet, which includes a ridiculous 529 Nm of torque and 331 kW of power, my co-driver and I found it hard to wipe the smug looks off our faces as we each took our turn behind the wheel. The sound of these engines echoing through the base of the Langeberge mountains at the crack of dawn is something else and it’s moments like that that make the hours we spend out of office and away from home #worthit!

The Bullitt – not your average Mustang!

We had a brief and exclusive chance to experience the Exclusive Mustang Bullitt at the launch too. For those who didn’t know, the Bullitt pays homage to the Mustang GT fastback that featured in a car chase in the legendary 1968 Warner Bros. film starring Steve McQueen.

Only 50 units of this range-topping Mustang are available and it is powered by an uprated 338kW version of Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 that delivers enhanced performance and a more engaging driving experience thanks to the fitment of a six-speed manual gearbox only. It is ‘the beast’ of all the Mustangs and driving it does require a fair amount of know-how and focus when you’re behind the wheel – if a relaxing Sunday drive is more your thing, you may want to look at the rest of the range. But, if it’s the muscle you’re after, it’s a rewarding experience if you know what you’re doing – and you’ll hear it too! Top speed? 260 km per hour.

On the outside, the Bullitt stands out in the range with exclusive Dark Highland Green or Shadow Black, along with a range of unique styling and feature enhancements such as its black wheels and striking red callipers.

Emotional attachment

It’s true that one develops an emotional attachment to these cars and I can see why. They offer so much in the way of reciprocation. Those that argue its good looks are likely resisting the change, dating back to the 60s (get with it, people!) It drives as though it has known you for years and wants you to live your best life, and it offers a sort of confidence that inspires a (safe) passion for driving.

What I was surprised to learn at the launch of the new Mustang was pricing. I went in blind and closed my ears until I had driven and properly experienced the car for myself. When I discovered that one could own a brand new Mustang, albeit the entry-level unit, for R768 000, I have to say that I was taken aback. In my head I’d imagined that one would need to spend much closer to the R1million mark, yet even the range-topping limited edition Bullitt comes in at just under that. Sure, when you consider on-road fees and paperwork you might then be stepping over that price point (for the V8), but it’s hard to doubt that it won’t be worth it. It is after all, a Mustang!

Ford Mustang – Recommended Retail Prices:

Mustang 2.3 Fastback 10AT                                      R768 000

Mustang 2.3 Convertible 10AT                                  R831 000

Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback 10AT                               R915 800

Mustang 5.0 GT Convertible 10AT                            R978 400

Mustang Bullitt 5.0 V8 GT Fastback 6MT                  R995 400

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.