|Looks, character, V8's performance, noise and response|
|2.3 still feels like a weak link, new 10-speed easily confused|
The new Mustang is a slightly more tempting proposition than before. Whatever you think of the styling changes – the low nose and different headlight treatment isn’t universally popular – the latest car boasts new technical elements, better performance and economy and new safety features, the latter of which should give it a better Euro NCAP rating than its current 2-star attainment.
And of course, it’s still an all-American sports coupe with the option of a thumping V8, a noisy exhaust and some bright paintwork.
Engine, transmission and 0-100kph time
As before, two engines are available. The first, and – let’s be honest – least appealing is the 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder. Power is actually down but torque is up on the new car, producing 286bhp at 5400rpm and 325lb ft at 3000rpm.
The new Ford Mustang may look similar to its predecessor but there’s plenty extra going on under the skin, aside from the engine and transmission tweaks already mentioned. The first is optional MagneRide damping, which now gives Mustang owners the ability to firm up the dampers through the Normal, Sport, Track and new Drag settings.
Those drive modes are signalled to the driver through a new TFT display in the instrument cluster, whose layout changes depending on the driving mode selected.
In Normal you get a relatively conventional twin analogue dial setup with the space between showing various different types of information. Snow/Wet is similar, but Sport mode, along with improvements to throttle response (and steering, and with MagnaRide, damping) extends the rev counter all the way along the top of the display. Track goes one further: the circular dials disappear, replaced by a bar tachometer, large gear readout, and much smaller digital speedo. Drag Strip mode focuses on your gear and your speed, and a new “My Mode” is a way to adjust settings to your individual preference.
What’s it like to drive?
Having driven to the launch venue in our long-term GT convertible, differences between old and new are slight but worthwhile. The quality of some cabin plastics has improved and the leather wrapping an otherwise similar three-spoke steering wheel feels better in the palms. Likewise, the new digital display is a welcome inclusion – digitally rendering otherwise conventional analogue dials seems like a waste of digital real estate, but the new formats when flicking between driving modes are clear, interesting and visually unique.
Equipped with the GT’s standard active exhaust system, the note emerging from behind you is harder than before – though a quiet mode lets you start up the car in relative silence to avoid awkward interactions with your neighbours. A few blips suggest the throttle is still a little slovenly at low revs in Normal mode but it livens up in Sport, and this will be the default if you want to explore the ‘Stang’s best side.
Price and rivals
2018 Mustang pricing begins at $48,000 for the 2.3 Ecoboost and $54,875 for the GT. Adding the 10-speed automatic increases this by $2135 and convertibles at $4670 extra.
Those numbers are higher than they were pre-facelift, but still represent relatively good value given the performance on offer – for some perspective, the admittedly higher-end (but otherwise similarly naturally-aspirated) Lexus RC F is in the region of $80k, and reaches 100kph in the same 4.5sec as the auto-equipped Mustang.
It’s harder to make a case for the Ecoboost, not only because it’s only around $6k less than the V8, but also because its relative lack of performance and character makes it a harder sell against some of the quicker hot hatchbacks available in the $40k range; front-drive it may be, but the rowdy Civic Type R will match the manual Ecoboost to 100kph and deliver greater thrills on the road.
Opt for the V8 coupe with the manual transmission and specify magnetic ride, and the new Mustang is a small but usefully improved car over its predecessor. But best of all, it remains a Mustang – and that gives it a feel-good factor like few other cars at this price.
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
Copyright © evo UK, Dennis Publishing