MUSTANG GIVES BOOST TO DRIVING
COUPE HAS POWER BUT LOW SAFETY RATING A WORRY
THE four-cylinder Ford Mustang EcoBoost is the cheapest model in Ford Australia's Mustang line-up, slotting below the V8 Mustang GT at $45,990.
We tested the EcoBoost coupe, which was fitted with the six-speed auto transmission.
Prices for this version start at $48,490 plus on roads.
Standard equipment is reasonable; you get various driving modes to alter the car's behaviour, satellite navigation, Ford's latest Microsoftdeveloped Sync entertainment system, a punchy stereo, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, and heated and cooled seats.
But it does miss out on stuff like a digital speedo, blind-spot monitoring and automatic braking.
It's a four-cylinder Mustang. And before you slam your fist down on the table and decry "Mustangs should be V8!", be assured that the Mustang Ecoboost packs more than enough grunt.
Power comes from a 2.3 litre turbocharged and intercooled fourcylinder engine – shared with the Focus RS – that develops 233kW and a very healthy 432Nm.
Acceleration is brisk, and in Normal mode the engine is smooth and quiet. Flick the aircraft-style toggle switch into Sport and that purring four-pot develops a deep and angry rumble, and it almost – almost – sounds like a small block V8.
The transmission holds gears for longer too, altering the engine's rev pattern. We liked Sport mode.
The official combined fuel consumption is 9.3litres/100km, but we found 12ish to be more realistic.
Should you wish to do track work, there's a track mode that dumbs down the electronic driving aids and there's also a winter mode for low-grip conditions.
You can also select Normal, Comfort and Sport for the steering.
Acceleration is brisk – more than fast enough for most – and the gearbox climbs through the ratios quickly.
It does genuinely feel sporty and the whole experience is very entertaining. The transmission shifts notably harder in Sport and we found that it held some gears for too long, especially when coasting down hills, and this made the engine rev unnecessarily hard.
As for ride and handling, well, the Mustang is very much a muscle car rather than a sports car. It feels big and bulky and doesn't seem to hide its size particularly well.
This was more than apparent when piloting the 'Stang through tight inner-city streets, where the thing felt enormous.
The ride can feel hard too and can be a little uncomfortable over crappy road surfaces.
Hit an open flowing road, however, and the Mustang EcoBoost is a joy. It's not particularly clever or sophisticated, but it has a certain charm about it. And despite Mustangs becoming a relatively common sight on Aussie roads, we found our test car got admiring glances wherever it went.
Front passengers should have more than enough head and leg room, although those in the back may find head room to be very limiting.
Fit and finish is fine, although some of the materials feel cheap and flimsy and make the Mustang feel like it's built to a price.
Verdict: We wanted to recommend the EcoBoost as a cheaper, more logical alternative to the V8 Mustang GT, but that two star safety rating holds us back.
The Ecoboost is a more logical alternative to the Mustang V8 GT.