Brawn, brains, beauty and breeding, the Ford Mustang has it all… and then some. Kate Ginn tries out her dream car
They say: “The legend lives.” We say: “Untamed icon.”
One of the most difficult things in life, as you may know, is to impress an 11-year-old girl. They’re notoriously fickle and demanding. As demonstrated when the Editor’s daughter, Cia, remarked that “it’s just a car”, as I picked her up in the Mustang that had been loaned to Y for a one-day test drive.
This was the car I had dreamed of driving since I was a little girl, younger even than Cia, and it was a thrill just to sit inside. My young passenger was evidently harder to win over. And then I put my foot down.
As the 5.0L engine growled into life like a spitting panther, with a rumbling noise that seemed to shake the ground, my young co-driver screamed “awesome”. Suddenly, in that moment, she appreciated the vehicle we were sitting in.
I was already long gone. I had been taken to the moment that I clapped eyes on the red GT 5.0L V8 sitting on the forecourt, waiting for me. I ran my hands along the side and looked at the iconic logo, the galloping Mustang, surely one of the most instantly recognisable symbols in the car world and beyond. I could have been driving a Cougar – that was one of the names toyed with during the concept stage, and I found a black-and-white photograph on the internet of a prototype with a cougar emblem on the grille.
Personally, I’m glad they went with Mustang. This wild car – first produced in April 1964 – is, for me, one of the most beautiful four-wheel creations, a piece of automotive art from bonnet to boot. It’s not just the physical car itself, but also the sheer authenticity of its history. It has charisma, heart and spirit. But most of all, it has passion.
So what’s it like to drive one? Well, it’s a journey in itself. Until very recently, there wasn’t a test drive Mustang car available in Oman. If you wanted one, you could look at them in the showroom and touch but not drive.
This has now changed. And Y was one of the first to enjoy a test drive. All that nagging to Ford Oman paid off. The Mustang is every bit as wonderful as I had imagined and more. The celebrated engine throbs at low speed. Accelerating is like thunder streaking on the road – the adrenaline shoots through your body.
As the horse moves seamlessly to full gallop, your stomach contracts. My goodness, it’s fast. The top speed is about 250kmh. Of course, I drove nowhere near that fast, but I could sense the power. The Mustang wants, no it demands, to be driven hard and fast. Like its equine namesake, this free-roaming beast does not want to be tethered.
It was a thrill using manual gears, the “stick shift”. Having lived away from the UK for some time, I had to get used to it all over again. I’d forgotten how good it feels. There’s nothing quite like slamming your foot down on to the clutch and slipping up a gear notch. You’re in control of the car, holding the reins of the horse.
Inside, the Mustang is a visual treat, with a solid black leather dashboard, sports seats that grip you like a vice and three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with the famous silver logo in the centre. The Shaker 500 audio system with CD could blow your ears off at full volume. The interior also has a clever retro feel, but comes fully equipped with the latest hands-free technology with voice activation for phone calls and music.
The chrome touches everywhere are very cool, as is the ambient lighting and illuminated doorsills (standard on the GT 5.0L model). There’s also a rear-view camera for reversing (a reverse sensing system on the 3.7L V6 version) and the optional extra of a navigation system.
Safety features include stability control, front and rear stabilising bars and dual stage front airbags.
I kept noticing the looks of envy from fellow drivers as we roared past in a red blur.
My young passenger was, by now, a full convert to the Mustang cause and wanted us to overtake every vehicle on the road (Cia is clearly a girl racer in the making).
It was a wrench for both of us when we had to give back our red horse and return to a run-of-the-mill white saloon.
After the Mustang, it felt like driving a donkey.