Since a new Mustang will be revealed at the Frankfurt Show in the near future, this is a good time to round off our reviews of the current model. There have been two so far – one of the V8 Convertible automatic, one of the 2.3-litre EcoBoost Fastback manual – and it’s interesting to view the V8 Convertible manual in the light of experience of those variants.
The first thing to say is that the EcoBoost engine is by far the more sensible choice of the two available. It’s decently powerful, it sounds good and the reduced nose weight has a very positive effect on the Mustang’s handling, particularly its turn-in.
But it ain’t a V8, and a V8 is what everything about the look of the car suggests it should have. The 410bhp five-litre unit produces a splendid roar which the EcoBoost, pleasantly burbly as it undoubtedly is in some circumstances, just can’t match. For aesthetic reasons if no other, this is the engine the Mustang should have.
Similarly, although you can have an automatic gearbox if you want, the hefty six-speed manual in this version seems more in keeping with its muscle-car image. This isn’t fully my idea of a Mustang, though – I would trade the Convertible’s roof-down opportunity for the extra sharpness of the stiffer-shelled GT.
(One brief observation about the Convertible: when you lower the roof all the windows come down, but when you raise it again only the front ones do. The tiny rear ones don’t. I couldn’t find a switch to operate either of them. A Ford man patiently explained over the phone that in fact one switch covers them both, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. The Ford man seemed far more polite and gracious about being interrupted on holiday to put me straight on this than I suspect he really was.)
By modern standards the Mustang is not easy to drive. The gearchange, clutch and brakes are quite firm, but the steering and throttle are considerably lighter, so different major controls require different amounts of effort to use. Correct use of the throttle once you’re in a corner is crucial – too early and you’ll get understeer, too much and the tail threatens to skip out rather than, as is usually the case, help the car stay on the intended line.
I don’t actually mind this, since it means the car rewards good driving and makes bad driving all too evident. If you’re a passenger in a Mustang and you think it’s going very smoothly, you’ll know that the driver is doing a very good job. I therefore like the Mustang, not because it’s the best-handling car out there (it definitely isn’t) but because it’s so saftisfying when you handle it correctly.
A final point not mentioned in previous reviews: Euro NCAP originally gave the Mustang a two-star rating, only the fifth time it has given such a low score in eight years. After work done by Ford, the car was reassessed, and Mustangs ordered from July 2017 have three stars. The Child Occupant protection score is still dismally low at 32%, but there’s so little room in the back seat (which essentially serves as an annexe to the luggage compartment) that it would be almost impossible to fit a child in there.
Engine size 4951cc
Top speed 155mph
0-62mph around 5 seconds (figure not provided by Ford)
Fuel economy 20.8mpg combined
CO2 emissions 306g/km
Towing capacity Not applicable
Euro NCAP (2017) Overall 3 stars Adult occupant 72% Child occupant 32% Pedestrian 78% Safety assist 61% (see text)
Information correct at publication date