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Ford Mustang a living legend rather than a horse with no name badge

PUBLISHED: 07:30 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 18 September 2018

Refreshed Ford Mustang has a sleeker, more athletic profile and has also been tweaked to make it better to drive. Picture: Ford

Refreshed Ford Mustang has a sleeker, more athletic profile and has also been tweaked to make it better to drive. Picture: Ford

Ford/Andy russell

The iconic Ford Mustang has become a big hit since galloping into the UK sports car market and has now been honed to make it even better to drive and live with, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Evolutionary designed maintains the traditional Mustang design cues. Picture: FordEvolutionary designed maintains the traditional Mustang design cues. Picture: Ford

The iconic Mustang doesn’t need a name badge. With 10 million built since 1964, the galloping horse emblem says it all.

It’s also a clue to which model it is – the 5.0-litre V8 has a GT badge on the boot, the more fuel-efficient 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol another horse to match one on the front grille. Some will say you must have the V8 but it’s horses for courses and depends how much you like filling stations.

Looks and image

The Mustang fastback and convertible have evolved but trademark designs cues are still plain to see.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost model gets a Mustang emblem on the boot, the 5.0-litre V8 a GT badge. Picture: FordThe 2.3-litre EcoBoost model gets a Mustang emblem on the boot, the 5.0-litre V8 a GT badge. Picture: Ford

For the latest facelift, two years after its right-hand drive UK launch, it gets a sharper face thanks to a lower bonnet with integrated air vents, large front splitter, revised lower grille, restyled headlamps, remodelled rear bumper and diffuser and LED lighting. The sleeker, more athletic profile also improves aerodynamics and downforce.

Neat touches include a new start button that pulses red, until fired up, at 30 beats a minute – a pony’s resting heart rate.

Under the bonnet

The V8 has a throaty roar – and adjustable exhaust note to avoid annoying the neighbours – but those with an eye on MPG will be swayed by the smaller, turbo unit. It’s a detuned version of Focus RS engine – and I’d go for it… cheaper to buy and run.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine is the more fuel-efficient choice. Picture: FordThe 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine is the more fuel-efficient choice. Picture: Ford

The V8 has been hiked to 450PS, the EcoBoost is down to 290PS but, with 440Nm of torque, it’s no slouch with a flexible power delivery and still sounds purposeful. I got 30mpg overall and a best of 39mpg cruising gently in the six-speed manual model which now boasts rev-matching technology, blipping the throttle for smoother downshifts.

Both engines are also available with a new, more efficient 10-speed automatic transmission, replacing the six-speed gearbox.

Like the V8, new electronic line lock on the EcoBoost means you can ‘burn rubber’, holding the car on the front brakes while spinning the rear wheels… why is beyond me!

How it drives

Fascia and interior have a more premium feel . Picture: Andy RussellFascia and interior have a more premium feel . Picture: Andy Russell

Tweaked suspension sees recalibrated shock absorbers for more stable cornering, stiffened rear suspension for improved body rigidity and thicker anti-roll bars improve body control for sharper handling.

The test car’s optional MagneRide adjustable damping system to match road and driving conditions, not cheap at £1,600, is the ultimate, making the rear-wheel drive Mustang a fine long-distance cruiser and entertaining on twisty roads, hunkering down under power with lots of grip. It’s comfortable but tyre roar on poor roads is, well, tiring!

Steering has comfort, normal and sport settings with the latter putting the muscle into muscle car.

Space and comfort

Saloon has a 408-litre boot but access is restricted. Picture: Andy RussellSaloon has a 408-litre boot but access is restricted. Picture: Andy Russell

Front bucket seats nip and tuck in the right places but the two rear seats are only for small children – this fatboy checked out the lack of leg and headroom… and nearly didn’t get out again. Nor did the front seats return to their set position.

The 408-litre saloon boot goes back a long way, but has a small opening, and rear seat backs fold flat 50/50 for longer loads.

The interior has a more premium feel with door linings now soft-touch, as well as a wrap on the centre console featuring hand stitching in a contrasting colour and four new aluminium finishes for the instrument panel.

At the wheel

Sharper face thanks to a lower bonnet, revised lower grille and restyled headlamps. Picture: Andy RussellSharper face thanks to a lower bonnet, revised lower grille and restyled headlamps. Picture: Andy Russell

The low-slung driving cockpit is snug with a good range of adjustment.

The customisable instrument display changes to match driving mode – normal, sport, track and snow/wet driving modes and new drag strip and personal modes – varying from conventional dials to bar displays and also changing the car’s driving characteristics. I also liked digital readouts for both speed and revs.

A touchscreen operates most functions with the convenience of conventional heating and ventilation controls.

Final say

The Mustang is a living legend and, for all its performance, a car you can live with every day as long as you want to carry only cargo and not rear passengers.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Ford Mustang Fastback 2.3 EcoBoost £37,045 (range to £47,645)

Engine: 290PS, 2,300cc, four-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 5.8 seconds; top speed 145mph

MPG: Urban 23.1; extra urban 39.2; combined 31.1

CO2 emissions: 199g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 37pc

Insurance group: 42 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,784mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,080mm; H 1,381mm

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