A small tag on the passenger side of the dashboard in the 2015/2016 Ford Mustang states: “Mustang – Since 1964” which is there to remind you that you’re in an iconic car with a history that dates back over 50 years. The Mustang’s debut was on the 17th April 1964 at the World’s Fair held in New York and it attracted so much attention that on the first day of actual sales 22 000 Mustangs rolled off the showroom floor. It was sold as either a hardtop or a soft top with a 6-cylinder engine as standard, but there were three optional V8 engines available too, and these were the most popular. These were know as the 1964 ½ Mustangs and are worth some serious money today. 1965 saw the first full year of production and by 1966 the Mustang had the record for the fastest million cars sold. There have been plenty variations of the Mustang over the years, some were very successful and some were never really deemed worthy of the galloping horse logo. Be that as it may, the Mustang’s success has been second to none.
The latest incarnation of Ford’s Mustang built up almost the same anticipation as that very first model, and with it being the first worldwide Mustang model, overseas markets joined in on the excitement. Mustang fans in the right hand drive markets now had something special to look forward to, and I can tell you that special only just begins to describe the new Ford Mustang. The car has been a global hit since the international launch last year making the Pony car the world’s best-selling sports car for the first half of 2015. The Mustang has also made it’s mark in this age of social media by having the title of being the world’s most-liked vehicle on Facebook after it amassed over 8 200 000 of the coveted little thumbs-up clicks. Out of those fans, the percentage of them who have physically seen and driven one is quite small, but I was lucky enough to fall into that category thanks to being at the much-anticipated South African launch in Cape Town, representing my good mates at SA Car Fan.
There will be six models in the local lineup (for now) and with only eight Mustangs in the country so far, I was lucky enough to sample the 2.3 EcoBoost Convertible Auto, the 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback Auto and the 5.0 GT Fastback Auto, in that order – which is the right order to do it in if you ever get the chance. There was a single manual V8 model here but the more seasoned journos were after that one, and being new to all of this (attending launches) I was more than happy to stick to the auto models. First off, these new Mustangs look great. No, wait, they look absolutely awesome. After months and months of seeing pics and videos of them online I can tell you that they look even better in the metal. I’m clearly not alone in this thinking judging by the traffic jam caused outside Truth Coffee where our first meeting spot was. While we had lunch and a briefing inside the venue, the fleet of new Mustangs was the focal point of countless smartphone cameras. This happened on every day of the launch week and is part of what helped the Mustang launch to trend on social media sites.
We were assigned a route guide but also given freer reign than usual so we didn’t really need to stick exactly to the guide. We were given the car swap location and a time to be there so that if we did go off course we would still be able to meet up in time. Of course myself and my usual launch co-pilot Justin Jacobs from Autodealer took full advantage of this and wandered off the route to snap some pretty epic pics of the new ‘Stang. On that note, I just want to add that if I ever see motoring-related pics posted by people I know in Cape Town and they’re not amazing, I’ll have to unfriend them on social sites – there is simply no excuse for bad pics when Cape Town offers up so many amazing locations and backdrops. The convertible Mustang was a great choice for cruising along the Cape’s coastal roads, especially if you want to do this while being noticed. When the 2.3 EcoBoost motor was announced it upset many of the die-hard V8 Mustang fans, for them a Mustang should be a V8 and nothing else, but they were wrong. The motor is really good, it’s smooth, it’s plenty powerful and it does have a great sound to it, although I couldn’t quite figure out if there were amplified engine sounds coming through the speakers or not. The 2.3-litre, 4-cylinder lump features direct injection, variable cam timing and of course, a turbo that equates to an impressive power output of 230kW and 434Nm of torque. The claimed 0-100km/h run of just 5.8-seconds (in the manual version) is believable because the 6-speed auto version is properly fast too.
The new 6-speed auto ‘box is very good, the changes are smooth and quick and in Sport mode the shifts don’t sound like the diff is going to jump out of the car, something I’ve felt in performance rear-wheel drive cars before. The car can be used as a full auto or you can turn the drive into a PlayStation game and use the steering-mounted paddle shifts for a little more control over the revs and the change points. When you start using the paddles the Mustang will stay in gear until you change it, so if the urge sets in you can hold the car on the limiter in any gear for as long as you like, although this is a little counter-productive if you’re trying to drive fast.
The seats are brilliant, they’re form hugging and that makes them sports seats in every sense of the word. The rest of the interior matches the sports theme, which makes sense for a sports car of course. Seating position is spot on and the layout of everything is just right. The car has all the features you’d expect along with others that make the Mustang unique like Track Apps that allows for the use of launch control and line-lock – showing that the Mustang is definitely aimed at the drag racer in you. Line-lock is brilliant, it clamps the brakes on the front wheels while allowing the rears to spin – a full-on burnout mode for 15-seconds which is just enough to heat up the tyres in a staging area at a drag strip. Or to show off to your mates…
Being a worldwide model meant a lot had to go in to the handling of the car, there’s that stigma about American cars being fast in a straight line but not in the bends. This Mustang definitely changes that. The handling is great, and trust me, we tested it on some awesome roads. The 2.3 is quite nimble and pushing it into tight corners doesn’t show signs of understeer – well not at legal speeds of course. With the convertible model being sought after at the launch we decided to split the first section of the drive in two and halfway in we swapped over into a 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback Auto. The cars are identical except for the tin-top, which was only missing a sunroof if I have to be picky, although I’m not sure if a sunroof will be an option. The Fastback attracted just as much attention as the convertible, but I expected that.
At the swap over point it was time to try out a 5.0 V8 GT Fastback. A new Mustang is already a look-at-me car, but a roaring V8 in Triple Yellow screams attention. What’s really good to see is that the “lower spec” EcoBoost and this GT are pretty much identical in the styling and interior departments, differences are mainly left to what’s under the hood (this is an American car so it doesn’t have a bonnet, ok!). So climbing inside and getting comfortable was quick and easy and if it wasn’t for that expansive yellow hood in front of me, I could easily have mistaken the car for the EcoBoost. That is, until you start the thing up, that V8 rumble immediately tells you which model you’re in. The car makes a brilliant noise when you want to go fast, the normally aspirated 8-pot’s torque is rated at 542Nm and it comes in nice and low, low enough that the nanny controls kick in if you’re a little too enthusiastic with the loud pedal. They’re not intrusive mind you; they just let you know that they’re there unless you get really stupid. Of course, if stupid is what you’re after then track mode removes the muzzle completely – not advisable for public roads. In the twisties the V8 is as good of course, the heavier front-end is noticeable but I didn’t feel understeer creep in, but again, legal-ish speeds.
Our final destination was the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay and seeing as we had some free time to relax and have drinks before the official presentation, we decided that we should rather spend some of that free time cruising along the beachfront. Now you should already be aware that Camps Bay is the playground of the wealthy who are used to seeing all manner of sports car parading around, but I’m willing to bet that it’s been a while since these people whipped out their smartphones to take pics of sports cars, but a slow cruise in the new Mustang saw that happening at just about every street light or when traffic slowed outside the trendy bars and coffee shops. I’ve been in plenty unique cars over the years, from modified Japanese imports to show-winning classics and racecars and I can tell you that I’ve never been in a car that’s gotten as much attention as the Triple Yellow 5.0 Mustang. This is a true look-at-me car.
On one of the many Facebook groups I’m part of there was a discussion on the new Ford Mustang and the guys were comparing it to some other models, but they were basing it on price point which doesn’t really work. Some were saying that they’d opt for a BMW M4 over the Mustang, which is ok I guess except for the fact that you’d just be another guy in an M-series BMW. Another post said that they’d also opt for a low mileage 2nd hand C63 Mercedes. That also doesn’t work for me. There’s no doubt that the ///M is a great car, but if I had to choose, I’d have the Mustang because it suits my personality more than the German car. It’s a hooligan car, if the new Mustang was a person it would always be up for a party. It would have no problem getting properly out of hand, jumping on the main table and doing a strip to Rammstein while the BMW would be sitting in the corner shaking it’s head in disapproval while sipping on cognac. As for the C63, if someone pitches up at an event driving one I’d immediately assume the driver to be a doctor, banker, an accountant or some similar professional, which is not a bad thing of course. On the other hand if they arrived in a Mustang I’d assume them to be an extreme sports athlete, a rock star or the boss of an energy drink company. I know who I’d rather hang out with. Generalisations I know, but that’s how I see these cars. Of course you’ll also get owners who have been fans of the Mustang since that first car poster they hung on their bedroom wall when they were but knee-high to a grasshopper and who now finally have a way to realise a dream and be part of the worldwide Mustang family.
There is a lot more info to give you on the technical side of the Mustang which I’ll get into if I’m lucky enough to get one for a full review (Hi Minesh), but for now know that this car will continue the Mustang’s iconic legacy and is definitely set to be a global winner for the Ford brand. The convertible 2.3 EcoBoost Auto Ford Mustang is my new lotto car…
Lineup and pricing:
Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback Manual R699 900
Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Fastback Auto R719 900
Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost Convertible Auto R779 900
Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback Manual R819 900
Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback Auto R839 900
Mustang 5.0 GT Convertible Auto R899 900
The Mustang comes standard with a 3-year/60 000km warranty, with the option of extending the warranty period by purchasing a Ford Protect plan or optional maintenance plan.
Mustang Designer Joel Piaskowski
At the launch I was lucky enough to meet the designer of the new Ford Mustang, Joel Piaskowski. The man is super passionate about Ford and obviously the Mustang, which showed during the presentation when he walked us through the design elements of the car. I now also own a 1:24 scale model of the new Mustang autographed by Joel - something awesome for my collection.
Joel Piaskowski – Director, Design, Ford of Europe
Joel Piaskowski was appointed as Director, Design, Ford of Europe, August 2014 – after first joining Ford Motor Company 5 years ago. Joel Piaskowski moved from Ford’s Strategic Concepts Group based in the U.S., to lead the design of all concept and production vehicles in Europe, and support Ford’s global design initiatives.
Piaskowski was born in Michigan, and graduated in 1990 from the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, with a bachelor of fine arts specialising in transportation design. He joined Ford in 2010 as director, Exterior Design, The Americas, and has led the team in the creation of vehicles including the recently revealed all-new Ford Mustang, Ford Edge and Ford F150 pick-up truck. In January 2013, Piaskowski was appointed director of Design, Ford Asia Pacific, based in Ford’s Asia Pacific Design Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and more recently, he returned to Dearborn, Michigan, to oversee Ford’s advanced design studios globally.
Prior to joining Ford, Piaskowski was Vice President of Mercedes-Benz’s Advanced Design Centre in California from 2009 to 2010, and previously served for six years as Director of Design for Hyundai in the U.S. He started his career at General Motors in 1990, working for more than 12 years on exterior and interior designs for several brands.