Must-have for thrills
LOW emissions, hybrid power and hydrogen fuel cells... the future for motoring looks very different from the high octane past when horsepower ruled the road and only the lily-livered balked at high speed.
At the risk of sounding like a refugee from the days of the old Top Gear, political correctness, conservation and fear of the outrageous have taken over – well almost.
But then something comes along to restore a sense of fun and fast living.
That ’something’ for me arrived in the shape of the Ford Mustang 5.0-litre V8 GT, a muscle car from the old school with two belching exhaust pipes, big band sound and enough grunt to almost melt your backbone.
With 415bhp to call on, rear wheel drive and even a manual gearbox, it is a journey – a very fast one – into the past. Except, unlike American sports cars of old this Ford handles the curves as well as the straights.
And it rides, steers and brakes just like a pedigree European GT with smoothness, precision and progression.
The massive plus – apart from a surge to 62mph in just over four seconds – is the price. At a few quid under £40,000, this is the bargain of the century. Mind you, it’s best to have deep pockets for your fuel bills. The low 20s is par for course in normal driving and press-on stuff resulted in an average of 18mpg during my tenure.
Despite its considerable size, the cabin remains a two-plus-two with decent rear seats that are comfortable enough once accessed.
Driver and front seat passenger are well catered for with heated/cooled power seats, eight inch sat nav touchscreen, power-folding door mirrors, full leather and Bluetooth.
The boot – a conventional separate entitity rather than a hatch on this, the Fastback version – is big enough for weekends away but not commensurate with the car’s size.
Behind the big, slightly dished steering wheel you can, if the mood takes you, almost pretend you are Steve McQueen blipping the throttle to the muffled throb of the eight cylinders. A row of switches in front of the gear lever allow you to select your driving style – Normal, Sport+, Track or Snow/Wet.
For the brave or foolish, there’s also Launch Control, but I stayed away from that one on busy A-roads and greasy country lanes.
It revs easily and loudly up towards 6,000rpm and the gearchange is quick and smooth. As you might expect, the clutch is quite heavy and matches the steering which loads up nicely as you press on through bends.
Despite traction control the tail can be coaxed out a tad on sweeping curves. It’s all very predictable and easy to fetch back. The sort of car that flatters its driver.
It’s hard to imagine the Mustang was created more than 50 years ago back in 1964 and still the design is aesthetically appealing. The latest car, the sixth generation – now with right hand drive thankfully – was designed by Brit Moray Callum and feels perfectly at home on our roads.
I would say it’s a breath of fresh air in today’s motoring scene, but then a glance at the CO2 emissions level – 299g/km – proves that this could be a contentious point. A wonderful car nevertheless.
TEST DRIVE FORD MUSTANG 5.0 V8 GT SHADOW
Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT Shadow £39,895 415bhp, 4,998cc, 8cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox 155mph 4.8 seconds 20.9 50 299g/km 37% 3yrs/60,000 miles