Ford looks likely to hit pay dirt with its fresh take on an American classic, says Alvin Thomas.
Creating a muscle car is incredibly simple: you chuck a high-displacement V8 engine into the front, dress it up with a pretty body with two doors, throw in a simple gearbox that feeds all the power to the rear wheels, and seat four adults in comfort. As a matter of fact, the muscle car was created to transport your average American family – complete with kids – from the southern end of Florida to the far north of Minnesota. It was the perfect vehicle to fulfill the “American Dream”.
However, as time passed, the muscle car culture trickled down to various other countries. Today, even Oman has its share of classic Camaro, Firebird and Mustang owners. However, of all the muscle cars that were to enter Omani sands, none became as popular as the Mustang.
Its raw V8 baritone ticked all the boxes that made it a perfect muscle car. Needless to say, I love the Mustang.
But looking at my tester for this week, I am confused. My tester Mustang has no “5.0” (signifying a 5.0-litre V8 engine) tag on it. And that’s where things have taken a turn.
What I’m actually driving this week is a Ford Mustang “EcoBoost”. For those of you who don’t know: the EcoBoost is Ford’s family of turbocharged four and six-cylinder engine cars, which are designed for higher fuel economy and fewer exhaust emissions while maintaining high power output figures – sort of like getting the best of both worlds.
However, upon first look, there are no real notable cosmetic differences between its muscular brother, and the only way to tell the difference is if you actually look for the “5.0” badge. Now in its sixth generation, the Mustang looks absolutely fabulous, especially in the “Magnetic Metallic” (grey) colour combo (which my tester came in). The sports car is apparently longer, wider and taller than before but there’s no way of telling – it is that well-proportioned. Adding to its aggressive stance is a sharp chin spoiler, chrome elements in the tail lamps and stealthy blacked-out 45cm alloys.
Despite its revamped exterior and mechanicals, however, the biggest improvement of all has to be the interior. You can tell that Ford has worked hard to get things right with this generation of the Mustang. There are plenty of soft touch spots – especially on the doors – and the fit and finish is top-notch. It is good to see Ford using soft touch padded-leatherette and metal finishing, as opposed to wrapping everything in plastic.
My tester variant also receives a small 10cm LCD screen fitted with Ford’s SYNC system. But buyers can opt for a larger screen with navigation, leather seats and also premium audio, depending on your preferences.
Now let’s move on to that new engine: it’s not the first time that Ford has crammed a small engine into the Mustang, but this definitely has to be the most powerful four-cylinder ever to be featured in a Mustang.
The 2.3-litre turbocharged “EcoBoost” engine produces an impressive 310hp and 428Nm of torque. That’s more than 100hp per litre of engine displacement!
The EcoBoost Mustang definitely drives very well. For starters, it has to be the most comfortable sports car that I have driven in a long (really long) time. The shocks (and even the low-profile tyres) are extremely forgiving, with very little noise and vibrations seeping into the cabin. For the first time, the Mustang also comes with four-wheel independent suspension, meaning it takes corners as well as a European sports car.
And because of that, I found myself driving the car in “Sport” mode for most of the time. The steering is moderately weighted and gives plenty of feedback – something that has disappeared from many modern sports cars. The brakes are extremely responsive and linear, thus offering high levels of confidence even if you’re a new driver.
On the plus side, the car takes corners flat – with almost no drama whatsoever – almost like a four-wheel-drive Quattro Audi. Yes, there really is that much grip! In contrast, the V8 Mustang would spin its rear tyres and drift considerably, although that’s also extremely fun. The turbo engine, however, does take a few seconds to spool up so there’s a considerable amount of turbo-lag. You can keep the lag in check by keeping the revs between the 3,000 and 5,000rpm mark. I could hit the 100kph mark from a standstill in 6.1 seconds.
In doing so, you’re also treated to a glorious grunt from the turbocharger, which is quite feeble otherwise. The gearbox is quite willing; keeping the revs all the way up in case you’re looking for a swift manoeuvre. The flappy-paddle gearbox is certainly a step above single-clutch gearboxes fitted in other European and American cars. But my suggestion to you would be to try out the manual variant of the same; there’s one in the Ford showroom here.
A day with the EcoBoost Mustang really changed my perspective of the nameplate. I cannot lie: I didn’t think I would like it. But after a day with the car, I’m inclined to say that this would be a perfect match for any Euro-Asian sports car; maybe better. And with its American muscle car looks and its environment-friendly engine, Ford really has hit the sweet spot here.