The Ford Mustang GT
Having been given the opportunity to test drive a Honda Civic Type R GT, we thought we'd have another go at the whole thing. This time, why not aim high? Why not pick a car that I've lusted after since I was a kid? So we spoke to Ford, and were answered with something as out of place on British roads as road-works with workmen at them, but all the more beautiful for it. We were granted access to the 2016 Ford Mustang GT.
The particular model we were let loose with was the 5 L V8 GT in a curiously fitting orange. Likely as not, the first impression that a thoroughbred V8 Mustang will make on anyone is a low rumbling somewhere out of sight. With its perfectly tuned quad tail pipes, the Mustang's low bellow announces the car's arrival.
Once you actually clap eyes on it, the childish part of you can't helped but be hooked. You know it's big and orange and noisy, but you want it anyway, immediately. The front is snarled, with a gaping maw feeding air into the huge engine bay. The headlamps squint at you aggressively and mounted in the middle of the grille is the instantly recognisable mustang at full gallop.
The aggressive body style is continued through to the rear, where our model's fastback tail is fitted with the iconic three bar taillights and a proudly displayed 'GT' badge. Underneath all this are the vast quad tail pipes, responsible for all the noise.
Once inside the Mustang, the atmosphere is mixed. It's comfortable and pretty roomy, up front at least. Yet, throughout the cabin are striking reminders of what you've just climbed into. As on the grille, the steering wheel bears the Mustang emblem, with a panel above the glove box mirroring the brand.
Unfortunately, for a car that I was so fond of, the interior of the Mustang, despite its relative comfort, was a let down. Perhaps I’m spoiled by European build quality, but the interior was wash with cheap plastic and Ford Focus-level assembly quality.
Then again, maybe a Mustang is supposed to be a little on the crude side, if it was left to this side of the Atlantic it wouldn’t really be a Mustang. The cabin though, did feature all the creature comforts and mod-cons that you’d expect for a car of that price range, and a selection of fighter-jet-esque switches which I was very fond of.
Upon starting the engine, any remaining interior issues fade away almost immediately, as the 5 L V8 growls into life. The noise remains a constant feature throughout the entire driving feature, but for the better. That being said, if you want to be a considerate orange muscle car owner, you can electronically tune your exhaust noise to be quieter, so you only wake the neighbours a little bit.
Once you’re moving, the feature that you might find most surprising is that this Mustang seems to have actually been built with the consideration that it might encounter a corner at some point. Independent rear suspension, LSD and responsive steering make for a controllable vehicle with more than its fair share of grunt.
This 460 hp-sized grunt however is somewhat dampened when using the 10-speed automatic which we were supplied. While it may be true that modern automatic gearboxes are perfectly capable of faster acceleration and better fuel consumption, having one in a Mustang seems like a betrayal.
As well as this, it’s just not that great a gearbox, when you plant your foot to make an overtake in a hurry it takes just that little bit too long to make its mind up. Again though, this is another relatively minor bother that you find yourself overlooking, especially since if you’ve got any sense you’d buy a manual in a Mustang anyway.
Once the gearbox does make its mind up, the power delivery is quick and brutal, shunting you forwards in a haze of noise with a giant grin on your face. Besides the desirable engine noise, the cabin is otherwise quiet and comfortable, giving the impression that it would allow for a quick but easy commute.
For all its flaws though, I can’t help but love the Mustang: it’s crudely built and extremely thirsty, but it’s so much fun that it makes you forget that in an instant. For those looking for an affordable commuter vehicle, perhaps the Ecoboost alternative may be the one for you, but for anyone looking for a fun and very orange weekend, the V8 is unbeatable, just make sure you do it properly and buy a manual.