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It's finally here! We drive Ford's new Mustang in SA

2015-12-04 07:39

Janine Van der Post

AT LAST! Ford has finally launched the iconic Mustang in right-hand drive guise for South Africa. Image: Ford SA

Cape Town - It took one giant billboard to send Ford enthusiasts into a frenzy in 2013 when the automaker announced its Mustang was headed for South Africa...

The car that has inspired generations of muscle car-enthusiasts isn't only Ford's flagship performance car but the soul of the brand. The Mustang is the epitome of motoring icons, it’s even made more than 9000 appearances in film, music and video games.

In December 2015, Ford has launched its Mustang in South Africa.

Here’s what you NEED to know…

Tracey Delate, Ford SA’s general marketing manager, says: “This is the car we’ve all been waiting for! The mighty new Mustang is here!”

The Mustang features a six-model line-up powered by two petrol engine options - 2.3 EcoBoost and the mighty 5.0 V8. All engines are available with auto transmission though the GT Fastback is only available in manual guise. There are two body styles - Fastback and Convertible.

IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 Ford Mustang

All models in South Africa come standard with a Performance Pack which includes a ‘K-brace’ under the bonnet to secure the suspension strut towers to the bulkhead for improved stability, unique chassis tuning, a larger radiator, upsized sway bar on the Fastback, plus heavy-duty front springs.

It comes in 10 very cool colours and every one of them pops.

Power figures

What? A 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine in a Mustang? Yes, and it's a surprisingly awesome turbocharged unit. And then of course there's the 5.0 litre V8 unit because what’s a Mustang without a V8 engine?

The 2.3 EcoBoost, says Ford, uses direct injection, variable cam timing and turbocharging to produce 233kW/430Nm. It reaches 100km/h in 5.8 seconds in the 2.3 Fastback manual. Combined fuel consumption is rated at 8.0 litres/100km with 179g/km CO2 emissions.

Looking for a new Ford? Check out our vehicle comparison tool.

The big daddy 5.0 litre V8 on the other hand uses a sequential multiport electronic fuel injection and variable camshaft timing to develop 306kW/530Nm. Ford reckons the V8 Fastback manual is its “most powerful and fastest-accelerating Ford sold in South Africa yet”, reaching 100km/h in just 4.8 sec.

Both engines can be mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission in Fastback guise, or the six-speed SelectShift auto gearbox (Fastback and Convertible). 

There are race car-inspired paddle-shifters on the steering wheel and selectable driving modes: Normal, Sport+, Track or Snow/Wet. These help the driver to adjust the AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, throttle response, automatic gear-shift patterns and steering of the selected mode.

There’s even a system to allow the option of the steering weight and feel known as the Selectable Effort Electric Power Assisted Steering.

Cool tech and gadgets

One of the coolest things about the car is the Track Apps that can be controlled via the steering wheel and viewed in the instrument panel. These include items such as accelerometer, acceleration timer and brake performance, which measures braking time and distance from a set speed. Now robot racers can even time their own 400m dash times.

It’s the perfect car for the guys and girls who attend motorsport races such as Street2Strip events at Killarney in Cape Town or Tarlton Raceway in the NorthWest.

There’s a Launch Control system but sadly it's only available for the 5.0 litre manual GT Fastback version - at the time of its SA launch. This system holds the engine at a pre-set value between 3000 and 4500r/min with the accelerator fully depressed. When the clutch is released, torque is sent to the rear wheels for maximum traction and consistent standing starts. 

Even more exciting is the electronic Line Lock system which locks down the front brakes. This will make even a rookie look like a pro on the line as the rear tyres are warmed up in orderly fashion.

Most importantly, how does it drive?

Both the 2.3 EcoBoost and the 5.0 V8 are great to drive. It's as if the Mustang can read your thoughts and how much pressure you're going to apply to the accelerator. The various settings allow you to choose steering response so you can lock it down to light steering or a sturdier feel. It's genuinely fun to drive and I haven’t felt that in a long time, well except perhaps when I've been behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R or a BMW M5.

I'm a petrolhead and American muscle has always been something that excites me. The Mustang is the king of dream cars and being able to drive one – whether in right- or left-hand drive - has been a fantasy of many lovers of Americana and car-enthusiasts alike.

But in all honesty, when it was my turn to drive I was expecting to be encompassed in a twilight zone and for Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA singer - to jump out the facia. I was about to find out what American Muscle was all about.

None of that happened...

I was expecting raw, undefined power and a rumbling roar when the engine was started. I was left underwhelmed in what was supposed to be one of my defining motoring moments I had been waiting for many years. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

In the Mustang’s defense my first ride was behind the wheel of the 2.3 Ecoboost which is a) tuned down by induction and b) turbocharged and c) it doesn’t compare to the naturally aspirated V8’s sound. With that said, it didn't matter too much and the car can’t be blamed for my high expectations caused by years of hype and anticipation. I was still driving one incredibly good-looking car and, well, it’s still a Mustang after all. 

Its 30mm lower than the predecessor, much wider and it has a stance that is forgiving of all my unmet expectations and the driving experience genuinely can’t be faulted. 

The 2.3 is surprisingly enjoyable and it’s understandable what Ford is trying to do with its global EcoBoost units, and for that and its 233kW, I still give it a double thumbs up.

The suspension and gearbox has European development and you can feel it in its smooth gear-shifting and even in the way the car handles – and that’s not a bad thing at all.

The long-standing independent rear suspension had to change to suit the modern car hence the double ball-joint front MacPherson strut system. This enables the use of large, powerful brakes.

Both 2.3 litre EcoBoost and V8-powered GT Mustang models feature high-performance brake packages behind 19” wheels. The braking power on the V8 models is almost as different as day and night from the 2.3-powered units as only the V8 features six-piston Brembo front callipers and obviously has more stopping power.

The drop-top…

Even when driving the convertible model, you can barely feel a difference and when the top is down, it’s so neatly and seamlessly stowed away you can barely notice there’s a roof hidden somewhere in the rear. You can fit two golfbags in the boot too (with the roof down). I don’t know of many other convertibles that can boast that kind of space.

With the roof up, road and wind noise is at a bare minimum and when the roof is down the aircon and entertainment system still works pretty well. The only downside is that you basically need to be at a standstill to operate the super fast roof.

I’d say the EcoBoost unit is for the buyer on a 'budget' but still scores points for driving a super hot car and a legend in its own right. It makes a great daily drive and that’s the most important factor regardless of what I’ve said.

The V8

The 5.0 litre V8 is a different animal, albeit much tamer than expected too. But it naturally sounds louder than the 2.3 and it definitely has more grunt even when driving. Ford says its sound engineer literally walked around with a microphone visiting hundreds of older Mustangs to get the best sound.

The big brother, when it comes to handling corners, sits tighter and definitely is a lot more confident on a straight road. It seems even more dynamic and eagerly anticipates the driver’s every move. 

Yep, this is the one to have. Sadly I can’t tell you more about the cool Track Apps and functions as there was only one GT manual model available and I wasn’t going to fight for a turn.

The waiting list

It seems a few thousand customers have to wait even longer. Ford says its waiting list, according to their calculations, could well be into 2018. There are only about 35-40 cars arriving monthly. The first cars will probably only be available mid-January 2016.

Although the car was already launched in 2014, because of its left-hand drive demand globally, it has taken this long for the S-segment car to arrive here. Thankfully, following the commencement of right-hand drive production for the first time at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan, South Africa could get on the list as one of the first right-hand drive markets in the world.

Ford South Africa says the Mustang is relevant locally as a leading SA performance offering at competitive pricing; it’s a brand builder and, a gift for the lovers of driving.

There are about 3500 orders but many of those could count as multiple orders and privateers trying to get their own stock and then put a mark-up on it for those who don’t want to wait.

Notable highlights

When you park the new Mustang alongside the original icon of the 1960s, you can see how the new car is directly linked to the classic muscle car and its roots are obvious. The designers have gone a long way to creating a modern muscle car while retaining the spirit of the original pony car.

The three led lines in the Mustang’s headlight cluster are replicated from the original grille. It has the same pinched muscular line which runs from the 'leading edge' - as Ford calls it - of the bonnet right over to the back of the car, and let’s not forget the rear end which is still distinctly Mustang.

Was it worth the long wait? For sure and the pricing really is competitive and would have been even better if it wasn’t for the weak Rand.

If you’re on the waiting list for the new Ford Mustang, I salute your taste in cars… It’s going to be one great ride.

READ: New Mustang arrives in SA: We have prices!

Mustang Lottery

South African Mustang buyers could win the opportunity to jump existing waiting lists by entering the first-ever Mustang Lottery, giving them the option to purchase a Mustang ahead of current order banks.

The Mustang Lottery is open for entries, and operates on a sweepstake basis. The once-off draw will take place in February 2016. Only 15 lucky customers will win the chance not having to endure long – and growing – waiting lists.

Participants can enter the competition by registering on the Ford Mustang ‘Keep Me Informed’ tab on the Mustang model web page. The purchase of the vehicle is in line with the normal buying process through the customer’s preferred dealer. 
Read more on:    ford  |  launch  |  cape town  |  new model  |  mustang

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