Mus­tang GT has plenty of bark, bite

Bay of Plenty Times - - FRONT PAGE - Road Test: Colin Smith Pic­tures: Colin Smith

Select any of the fol­low­ing as the best at­tribute of the Ford Mus­tang GT. The rich V8 en­gine note from the Ac­tive Valve Ex­haust, 339kW of power for just un­der $80K that is an un­match­able “bang-for-the-buck” equa­tion and ag­gres­sive coupe styling that in­ter­prets the pony car pedi­gree with a stylish mod­ern edge.

I’ll add an­other. Among all the cookie-cut­ter SUVs, staid sedans and for­mu­laic hatches the Mus­tang pro­vides ev­i­dence that peo­ple still love spe­cial cars — es­pe­cially ones with plenty of bark and bite.

The Mus­tang brings out the car en­thu­si­ast in peo­ple you hadn’t ex­pected to have petrol in their veins. I’ve driven Euro pre­mium cars cost­ing three times the pric­etag that haven’t so­licited as many com­ments and ques­tions as the pony car. The com­bi­na­tion of its his­tory, the rumbly V8 sound track and the fact it’s a main­stream enough to not be out­landishly ex­pen­sive or carry any lux­ury badge pre­tence gives it broad ap­peal.

The Mus­tang ar­rived in New Zealand in early 2016 and dou­bled the vol­ume of the sports car seg­ment in its first year. Sales slowed a lit­tle last year and 2018 is up­grade time for the Mus­tang.

That in­volves some added so­phis­ti­ca­tion, an im­proved — but still only 3-star — safety rat­ing and mus­cle car evo­lu­tion has de­liv­ered a use­ful power in­crease.

Visu­ally the changes are de­tails around the bon­net and grille plus new al­loy wheel styles while the dash ar­chi­tec­ture has been up­dated and in­cludes a new three­mode con­fig­urable dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play.

Be­cause of the sound­track there’s a temp­ta­tion to call the 5.0-litre Coy­ote an old school V8 but the quad cam 32-valve unit boasts mod­ern hard­ware in­clud­ing dual direct and port worked to a rau­cous 7000rpm to muster that num­ber while 556Nm of torque is avail­able at 4600rpm.

But the big­gest change for the Mus­tang driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is the trans­mis­sion. The au­to­matic ver­sions — both 5.0-litre and 2.3 EcoBoost four-cylin­der turbo – are paired with a new 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Rais­ing the gear count into dou­ble fig­ures might sound like too much of a good thing and a recipe for con­stant shift­ing. The re­al­ity proves the op­po­site and it’s

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