Straight up or slammed, this Pony delivers
The Ford Mustang has been popular in South Africa ever since that 1964 and a half original. Somehow they all got here, but the Pony has only been available in right-hand drive off your local Ford dealer floor for five years and now that car recently benefited a mid-life nip and tuck.
The previous one was good, especially at the price — its V8 was its standout advantage and Mustang had independent suspension with powerful brakes and electronic driving programmes that made you a smoky hooligan at the flick of a switch. Dragging your wheels, the cops call it! Muscular, low and wide it looked a million bucks at a couple of hundred grand off, too.
That was five years ago and it’s crazy how quickly things move on in the car industry, but the Mustang, which already missed a few tricks, seemed to fade pretty quickly. It had to tote quite a bit of lard versus certain lighter and nimbler rivals, while performance delivery and quality could have been better. So much so that it struggled to deal with the likes of the ageing Nissan 350Z and the feisty little Toyota 86 in our shootout of the trio back then.
So, this new one is very well timed to prevent it from just becoming someone’s retirement gift to himself. You know that guy…
It seems Ford has listened to our concerns and it’s taken a significant scalpel to the Pony — not only is the much tweaked 2019 model even sleeker, sharper, more powerful and more advanced, but an improved cabin now benefits a better and more rationalised customisable 12-inch digital dash, softer-touch materials and aluminium finishes. Never mind its electronic gizmos are now complemented by Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision, Pedestrian Detection and Lane-Keeping Aids too.
The big news however, is that this 5.0 GT gets an enhanced and even more sophisticated version of the quad-cam 5-litre V8 now featuring latest high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection to up power from 309 to 331kW at the same 530Nm. And probably best of all, that old 6-speed has been binned and replaced with that 10-speed auto box nicked from Ranger to deliver better acceleration and fuel efficiency.
Mustang however improves way beyond that seven percent hike in power — our road tested acceleration gains dramatically versus the old one’s 5.38 seconds to 100km/h, 11.41 seconds to 160km/h and a quarter mile of 13.9 seconds at 178km/h, to 4.58 seconds to 100km/h (17% better), 9.33 seconds to 160 (another 17% improvement) and a 12.5 second quarter-mile at 188km/h. Overtaking is also improved and Ford says economy improves by a litre and a half per hundred too.
That’s all thanks to a combination of Mustang’s improved V8 and that ten speed ‘box. I did find the gearbox a little annoying in everyday driving though — Mustang is pretty rowdy, so at part throttle, it tells you loud and clear whenever it’s milling around between ratios in response to throttle inputs and changing speeds. But the upshot of that perhaps too audible intelligence, is a significant improvement in every aspect of Mustang’s performance...
That said, Mustang has slowly and surely dismissed its crudeness over the years to become ever more cultured, but you will never hide the raw beast at heart. The Pony maintains a certain, solid feel — some may call it agricultural, others say its the muscle car in it, but there is a guttural element to Mustang that not even that contemporary integral-link independent rear suspension and electronic driving programmes will ever fully mask.
Make no mistake, there’s noting wrong with that great direct ride, Mustang handles and holds the road well and of course, this new one even adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Lane-Keeping Aid to its array of electronic gizmos. But this Pony car remains at its best with all those nannies switched off - Mustang may still be a bit of a compromise, but it certainly is worth it.
There is however another way to look at this latest Mustang. Even though it is now knocking on the door of a million rand, it’s still four hundred grand cheaper than say an M4 or RS5. And yes, the Ford is probably that amount less of car than its swanky Hun rivals, so it’s an interesting alternative just as it is. But if you still don’t want to be just another Beemer down William Nicoll, then you'd have north of 400 grand loose after parking this Pony in your garage.
Give me that R400K and I will make you a really special Mustang. There’s probably even enough left to slap a blower into that vee, tweak it, tune it and fettle it to give you 450kW and still have change to go toward a big brake kit and a suspension upgrade too. That will build you a car completely different to any other out there, which makes this whole Mustang malarkey a most attractive option, whether you like it straight up just like this, or boosted, slammed and totally unique to your own dreams.
See, there’s far more to Mustang than just a retirement present to yourself! – Michele Lupini
Images – Bernard Wiehahn
ROAD TESTED: Ford Mustang 5.0 GT fastback
Engine: 331kW 530Nm 5-litre petrol V8
Drive: 10-speed automatic RWD
0-60km/h: 2.34 sec
0-100km/h: 4.58 sec
0-160km/h: 9.33 sec
400m: 12.5 sec @ 188km/h
80-120km/h: 2.51 sec
120-160km/h: 3.43 sec
Fuel: 12.1 l/100km
CO2: 270 g/km
Warranty/Service: 4y 120K/6y 90Kkm
LIST PRICE: R929K