Must-have for thrills

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon Smith

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

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