Ford Mustang Review
The Mustang muscle car is good to drive, cheap to buy and now on sale here
Strengths & weaknesses
- Fun to drive with the V8 engine
- Good value for money
- Bullitt version will get you noticed
- The quality of the interior isn’t great
- Digital instruments are a bit basic
- Fuel consumption of V8 may bring a tear to your eye
Ford Mustang prices from £21,500 Finance from £493.99 per month
It’s as American as a cheeseburger on Route 66 – with supersize fries – but for the first time in its history, you can buy a Ford Mustang in Britain with the steering wheel on the right-hand side.
The original was launched and more than 10 million have been sold to date. What do people love about it? Probably that it’s a bit of a show-off; the Mustang has always been about a big engine whooping and hollering under its long bonnet. Crucially, it has come at a price the average worker could afford, too.
There are coupe (Ford calls it a Fastback) and convertible versions of the Mustang, priced from £33,675 for the 2.3-litre model and £38,165 for the 5.0-litre V8. There’s no hard and fast rule on which body style you should choose – as something of an indulgence, it’s simply a matter of whichever takes your fancy.
However, when it comes to the choice of engines, we think there can only be one: the 5-litre, V8 petrol. This is what marks it out against European sports cars. You won’t find another car in this price range with a big, brawny engine and a manual gearbox.
First sold here from 2015, following a facelift Ford offers drivers a choice of the 2.3 EcoBoost, the 5.0 V8 GT and the Bullitt 5.0 V8 GT.
Once the butt of jokes among car snobs for its crude suspension and rudimentary feel, the latest Mustang is more in tune with European tastes, thanks to sophisticated suspension – although the ride over poor roads can still be bumpy – more efficient engines and a refreshed interior with a touchscreen and digital instrument display.
If it all sounds – whisper it – a little sensible, fear not: the Mustang still has a wild side. Take the feature called Line Lock. At a standstill, it lets the driver apply only the front brakes and spin the back wheels for up to 15 seconds, producing more smoke than a bonfire. Only the Mustang could get away with such childish antics.
It’s the character of that V8 engine that defines this car’s personality. It can pull away from walking pace in fifth gear, gurgling and growling as the revs build. Or if you prefer, it will roar through the gears and reach 62mph from a standstill in 4.8 seconds.
The six-speed manual gearbox works well enough but the gear ratios – which determine how quickly the car can travel in each gear – are better suited to the arrow-straight roads of Arizona than the twists and turns of a typical British B-road. For example, second gear reaches to about 80mph.
Some drivers, then, may prefer to opt for the new, 10-speed automatic gearbox, which addresses the issue. It’s a £1600 option on the 2.3 EcoBoost, and £2000 with the 5.0 GT, but not available with the Bullitt.
The smaller 2.3-litre engine, which is turbocharged to boost power without using too much extra fuel, musters 286hp but you don’t get that V8 bellow that could drown out a concert at Madison Square Garden. The consolation is that it will return up to 35mpg, whereas the V8 guzzles gas, managing just 23mpg at best.
Where the Mustang falls behind competitors such as the Audi RS5, BMW M4, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-AMG C63, and Porsche Cayman is inside. Despite a generous level of standard equipment, the fit and finish feels cheap, and the addition of new digital instruments – which can be configured according to your taste or adjusted depending on the selected driving mode – does little to lift the impression of this being the equivalent of a spit-and-sawdust saloon bar.
It’s roomy in the front but pretty snug in the back, although there are Isofix points for two child seats. The boot will take a couple of large suitcases, but that’s your lot, with 332-litres of luggage space in the soft-top and 408-litres in the coupe.
As a sportscar - and in terms of safety, the Mustang is outclassed by cars from this side of the pond, but as a muscle car, it delivers cut-price acceleration with a US yee-haw you won’t find that in anything made in Germany.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot size||408-litres (332-litres for motorway)|
|Road tax||From £830 to £2070 in the first year and standard rate from the second.|
Best Ford Mustang for...
Best for Economy – Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback
The Mustang is not an economical car. The 2.3-litre version is the cheapest to run with an official mpg figure of 35.3mpg and road tax of £830 in the first year, then £140 per year for the next five.
Best for Families – Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT Convertible Auto
Since only small children will be comfortable in the back of a Mustang, why not go the whole hog and thrill them with this most powerful convertible version? They’ll love cruising around with the roof down.
Best for Performance – Ford Mustang Bullitt
The Bullitt version of the Mustang is more responsive when cornering than the regular models. Combined with a mildly tuned 5.0-litre V8 engine, and louder exhaust, it makes this the clear driver’s choice in the Mustang line-up.
One to Avoid – Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Convertible
The 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine sounds a bit weedy, so the Mustang's stereo automatically broadcasts a beefed up sound to make it seem more exciting. There's no disguising such fakery with the roof down, though.
January 2015 Ford Mustang goes on sale in Britain.
May 2015 Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost cars built between February 2014 and February 2015 recalled for airbag fix.
March 2016 Three new colours (one white and two blues) are newly available along with updated dashboard software, called Sync 3, which improves the car’s voice recognition.
May 2018 Facelifted Mustang range goes on sale, featuring improved safety equipment, uprated engines and enhanced suspension.
October 2018 Mustang Bullitt goes on sale. UK’s 2019 allocation of 350 cars sells out immediately; numbers still to be confirmed for 2020.
Understanding Ford Mustang names
Engine 5.0 V8 GT
The engine’s size is given in litres, followed by a label. EcoBoost is the one used for the smallest engine, indicating that it has four cylinders and is turbocharged for a performance boost. The biggest engine is labelled V8 because it’s made up of eight cylinders arranged in a V formation. It’s also given a GT badge, which is generally used on sports cars designed for long-distance driving.
Body style Fastback
Ford calls the coupe version of the Mustang a Fastback. There’s a convertible, too.
You can have your Mustang with a six-speed manual or a six or 10-speed automatic gearbox.
Ford Mustang Engines
2.3 EcoBoost, 5.0 V8
There’s a choice of two engines: a smaller 2.3-litre unit offering decent performance and reasonable economy and a 5.0-litre V8, that’s a lot thirstier but a blast to drive.
With its modest capacity, at least for a ‘muscle car’, four cylinders and a turbocharger, the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine is designed to give lower running costs without sacrificing performance, although it doesn’t sound all that special. From 0-62mph it can out-accelerate most versions of the BMW 4 Series coupe, for example. However, while it might be capable of doing 31mpg, road tax is still high at £830 in the first year.
The 5.0 V8 engine pays scant regard to running costs. Its large capacity, V8 layout and power are true to the spirit of the Mustang. And the noise is opera for petrolheads. It’ll crack 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds, almost as fast as a BMW M4 coupe, a car that costs more than £60,000, and has plenty of pulling power throughout the rev range, but the ratios of the six-speed manual gearbox are too widely spread.
The downside to the V8 is that it likes to guzzle gas. At best it will return 22mpg, and brace yourself for the road tax; it’s £2070 in the first year.
|Fuel||Official fuel economy||
Ford Mustang Trims
EcoBoost, V8 GT, Bullitt
The Ford Mustang doesn’t have trim levels like most other cars. Instead, the level of standard equipment you get depends on the engine that you choose, with the exception of the flagship Bullitt model.
All Mustangs have an 8in touchscreen in the dashboard with DAB digital radio, as well as Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, which changes the screen to look like your phone’s display when it’s plugged in. Standard equipment also includes leather seats that are electrically adjustable in front, a rear-view camera and dual-zone climate control, allowing both front passengers to set a different temperature for their area of the car.
Sat-nav is a £865 option (together with a B&O audio system) on all but the Bullitt model. There are 19in alloy wheels and a ‘walk-home’ lighting from the door mirrors, projecting an image of a Mustang onto the ground at night when you unlock the car or open the doors.
In addition, the 5.0 V8 GT model comes with a different alloy wheel design, launch control for faster starts, upgraded Brembo brakes, the naughty Line Lock feature and an active exhaust that changes in character according to the driving mode.
Safety equipment on all models now includes a system that can warn of a hazard ahead and apply the brakes, and another that helps prevent the driver from wandering out of their lane. There’s also adaptive cruise control.
Ford also offers a choice of four custom packs, which range in price from £1565 to £2465, and bring a premium B&O sound system with sat nav, heated and cooled seats, rear parking sensors and a choice of alloy wheels.
We’d choose the optional Recaro seats over the regular items, as they are more supportive and comfortable (£1700, or £1400 in conjunction with a custom pack) and consider the MagneRide adaptive suspension system, depending on the type of driving you do (£1600).
Ford Mustang Reliability and warranty
The Ford Mustang sells in low numbers (even though it was the UK’s best-selling sports car in 2016) so building an accurate picture of the car’s dependability is difficult.
There’s little comfort to be drawn from the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, either, where Ford rated a lowly 26 out of 32 manufacturers for reliability.
The Mustang is covered by a three-year/60,000-mile warranty. Audi offers the same length of cover although BMW and Mercedes have no mileage limitation.
Used Ford Mustang
The Mustang went on sale in Britain in January 2015, and facelifted versions were sold from May 2018.
Drivers looking to buy a used model should be aware that crash tests by the independent Euro NCAP safety organisation showed the pre-facelift Mustang lagged far behind competitors. In one test the airbag failed to prevent the driver's head from hitting the steering wheel, and the car scored zero points for protecting a ten-year-old-size dummy in a side impact. Crash avoidance technology, such as automatic emergency braking, wasn't offered. These points were addressed for the facelifted Mustang.
Despite this, demand for used Mustangs exceeds supply, meaning bargains are few and far between. Some owners might have extended Ford’s original three-year warranty, to four or five years; always check with the seller.
It is worth comparing any used car costs with a brand new Ford Mustang lease deal.