14 Mar 2016 Ford Mustang GT (EU Model)
The Ford Mustang is back in Europe
The Ford Mustang has a long history, but I won’t be talking about that, since you have probably read and heard about it many times before. The thing you should know is, that for Europe, this is the first Ford Mustang you can buy from a Ford dealership. And while we in Europe have laughed about the driving characteristics and built quality of the American muscle car icon, Ford promises that this new 2016 Ford Mustang is a complete game changer, thanks to one technical change to which I will come later.
I hadn’t driven a Ford Mustang since 2012, when I rented a V8 Mustang from Hertz here in Los Angeles. The only thing I liked about that car was the sound of the V8 engine – the cabin sound. Other than that, it was a pretty bad drivers car, maybe because it really wasn’t meant to be one. Before I got into this new Ford Mustang, I had read a lot of good stuff about it so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Will it be just another one of these Hertz Rental car’s kinda car, that you can rent for cheap and that can pretty much just go straight, or will it actually be worth the money and have a chance on the European sports car market, which is no easy market to compete in.
My first impression when I got into the car in Cologne, where I picked it up, was “hm, this is comfortable”. The optional Recaro seats are indeed a very comfortable extra, which I definitely enjoyed over the 2500 km I drove in this car. They do cost 1.800 Euros extra, but they are worth it. The cabin itself looked also better than I had remembered it from the 2012 model. The quality of the parts also seemed to be improved. The plastic is still there and so is the synthetic leather, but hey, this car comes in at just 43.000 Euros in Germany, including our ridiculous 19% sales tax. For that, this isn’t that bad. Especially once you turn on the engine and drive the thing.
When I started the engine and slowly drove towards the Autobahn, I felt the American muscle car power that was under my right foot. I had to get used to the throttle pedal a bit, since it has a very long travel compared to pretty much every car I have driven before. Which is funny, because the brake pedal is one of the stiffest I have ever seen. But that’s a good thing and really gives you a lot of confidence especially when you’re traveling at 250 km/h (155 mph) on the Autobahn. The initial bite is fantastic!
But back to the engine. It’s a 5.0 Liter V8, naturally aspirated engine, producing 421 HP and 524 NM. It’s so refreshing driving a big, naturally aspirated engine again after all that down-sizing nonsense. It sounds fantastic and it definitely pulls. I managed 5 seconds from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph) on winter tires with not the best traction. Even at higher speeds on the Autobahn, the car has no trouble accelerating whatsoever. Pretty impressive for that amount of money.
As I said, the cabin is very decent as well. There are some cool airplane like switches in the middle which control the driving mode, traction control and the windows. In addition the car is equipped with the new Microsoft Sync 3 infotainment system, which works pretty good. I mean, I am not a fan of touch screens in cars, but the system is pretty straight forward and it’s easy to pair your phone wirelessly.
The transmission I had in the test car was unfortunately the 6-speed automatic. It was pretty okay for the most part. I mean, I mostly drove it in manual mode using the flappy paddles behind the wheel, and the reaction and shift times are pretty decent. The only problem I had with it was on the Autobahn. For some reason it wouldn’t let me downshift from 6th gear unless I am at or below 3000 rpm, and then I could go straight to 4th actually. It really gets annoying because sometimes you’re driving behind an Audi A6 for example at 160 km/h (100 mph) in 6th gear for fuel saving reasons, and then when he would change lane and you want to overtake him, you would actually have to brake first to be able to get to 3000 rpm, downshift, and then accelerate with full performance. Staying in 6th gear would of course work too, but the car would have a hard time accelerating. That’s probably only an issue in Germany though. I’d get the Mustang with the manual 6-speed nevertheless.
The biggest update on the new Mustang is the new independent rear suspension, which is a first for the muscle car. While many traditionalists are furious that Ford decided to go this route, I think it’s fantastic and will help the car to compete against its European rivals. Allowing the rear wheels to turn at different speeds, just helps the agility of the car a lot. Besides, most sports car manufacturers are now even including rear axle steering! I think it was really just about time for Ford to move from the stone ages into the, let’s call it, present. It makes the car just so much more fun and so much more of a sports car. Because of this (and the amazing design), Ford will actually sell this thing in Europe and could possibly achieve numbers they only could have dreamed of before.
Seriously, I drove this car on many nice twisty German roads, and I actually did enjoy it.
Yes the steering isn’t the best, it’s lacking in feedback, but after all, it’s still supposed to be a muscle car, and luckily Ford did not change that. The car feels pretty big with that long, high hood. It feels powerful. It feels like a muscle car should. But instead of just being able to race a quarter mile, you can now drive up and down a nice mountain road and actually enjoy the car as well.
I really do believe that this is the key feature, which will give this car a solid chance on the European market. Because for that price, there just isn’t anything similar out there. Yes, sure you can get a used M5 or C63 AMG for that money and they will most likely outperform the Mustang, but the Ford comes with the newest Sync 3 infotainment system, warranty, and you get some of the American muscle car flair many Europeans absolutely love.
On a small side note though, I hope that Ford will fix some of the translation errors that are shown in the system. The English “Track Mode” was for example translated to “Off-Road Mode” in German. Many German car magazines got confused about it and so did I. Why would I want to go off-road in a Ford Mustang?! Turns out, it’s just the most sporty mode with less traction control interference.
In case you wonder about the gas milage of the big V8 engine, it’s not too bad. In fact I was pretty impressed by the gas mileage when comparing it to some heavier, twin-turbo V8 models that we have produced in Germany. I used on average around 12 liters/100 km which converts to 19 mpg. That includes high speed Autobahn driving and everything. So that’s not bad at all for a 1.7 ton vehicle with a 421 HP V8.
Overall I am happy that Ford first of all, finally put some love back into the Ford Mustang project and improved the car immensely, and second, brought it to Europe. I do hope that it will stay there for a while, also as confirmation to Ford, that they can indeed build good automobiles for good money. Also, it might push some European manufacturers to bring back some naturally aspirated engines or to at least keep the V8’s around for a bit longer.
Article by Kai Groschupf