Fast cars and faster now than they have ever been. But too many of them have become extremely serious. Sure, they can cover ground obscenely fast, but there’s little fun and engagement to be had in the process.
The latest Ford Mustang is not one of those cars; it has a fantastic sense of humour. Even when it’s not bright yellow.
Ford has pulled off the tricky trick of designing a car that looks bang-up-to-date and yet appears to be only a slight evolution from the iconic original Mustang of 1964. It’s the same story inside – the interior is chock full of retro touches, but has all the gadgets you expect. The quality isn’t up to BMW standards, but who cares when there’s a pair of deeply recessed dials and a row of rocker switches on the centre console?
It’s hard not to crack a smile when you get in, and absolutely impossible when you fire it up. The 5.0-litre V8 produces a guttural gurgle at idle that turns into a gloriously hard-edged growl at the top of the rev range.
The speed doesn’t quite match the drama of the noise, though. It’s not slow by any means – 0-62mph takes 4.8secs – but you have to use those revs to fully unlock all 414bhp. Or else slip the chunky manual gearbox into fourth and use the 391lb/ft of torque smeared across the mid-range.
Arrive at a corner and there’s no getting away from the sheer size of the thing, but the change to independent rear suspension has paid dividends. It feels planted and secure, the chassis and steering giving a full account of what’s going on beneath the tyres. And it’s more than happy to play the hooligan, too. The brakes lack bite, but that’s the only charge you can level against it. It even rides well.
It’s an easy car to drive fast, but crucially you don’t have to be going at ten tenths for it to come alive. In fact, only three or four will do to stretch a grin across your face. And at less than that, you can revel in the fact you’re driving a bright yellow Mustang with rocker switches on the dashboard.
I think the whole Mustang ethos is summed up by the line-lock, a device that holds the front brakes so you can spin the back tyres up into huge clouds of fluffy white smoke. Until they burst if you wish.
Burnouts are, of course, completely unnecessary and fairly anti-social, but by God they’re fun. And so is the Mustang.
Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual; rear-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 414bhp; 391lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 20.9mpg; 299g/km
Top speed: 155mph
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By Only Motors