If you’re after driving the latest in V8 muscle car thrills, look no further than the latest Mustang.
By Ghaith Madadha
Creating the affordable charismatic American muscle car segment when introduced in 1964 and again spurring a retro-infused modern muscle trend in 2005, the Ford Mustang now returns better than ever. Winner of the 2015 Middle East Car of the Year award, the sixth generation Mustang is more mature, sophisticated, and refined, but no less viscerally-charged. The new Mustang is less overtly retro, but carries its heritage with an identifiably contemporary manner and for the first time features independent rear suspension, with associated ride and handling benefits.
Ford’s latest muscle car features a muscularly long bonnet, short deck, and slanted three-bar rear lights. It is low, wide, eager, and urgent, yet aerodynamically honed for efficiency and stability, with air splitters and dams, bonnet vents and a rear spoiler. It’s 28 percent stiffer and uses more high strength steel for safety, refinement, and handling improvements, while aluminum front wings and bonnet enhance weight distribution.
The new Mustang, fusing traditional and contemporary design cues, features Ford’s current hungry jutting hexagonal grille and lower intake fascia, flanked with browed, slim squinting headlights. It radiates dramatic tension from every angle, with sculpted side intakes and muscular rear haunches.
Under its evocative twin-ridge bonnet surfacing, the range-topping regular production Mustang GT boasts a seductively punchy 5-liter V8 ‘Coyote’ engine developing 435 BHP at 6500 rpm and 400 lb/ft at 4250 rpm.
Burbling and warbling at idle, the Mustang GT’s bass-heavy exhaust and intake notes coalesce to relentless bellowing and staccato growls as revs peak. It feels effortless when languidly cruising or briskly dispatching hill climbs in mid-range. Prodded aggressively from standstill, wheel-spin quickly gives way to traction, with 0-100 km/h arriving in 4.8 seconds. The rear-drive Mustang’s 6-speed automatic gearbox holds gears to 7000 rpm rev limit without automatic up-shifts and unnecessary full load kickdown in ‘Sport’ mode for better driver autonomy to finesse power delivery through corners.
The new Mustang rides smoother and more comfortably, with firm body control and cornering precision, replacing its predecessor’s traditional live rear axle with independent integral-link rear suspension. It is confident, connected, and agile with 54 percent front bias, road-hugging footprint and grippy 255/40R19 tires. Adept through switchbacks, it well regains lateral and vertical composure from mid-corner bumps.
With slight weight shift upon sudden direction change the Mustang settles into corners with composed body control and commitment. On-throttle handling is easily finessed, while big ventilated disc brakes proved tirelessly effective. The GT is refined, reassuring, settled on rebound, and firmly smooth yet forgiving over lumps, bumps, and imperfections. Available safety equipment includes eight airbags, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information, cross-traffic alert, and Ford MyKey, which can prevent second drivers disabling driver-assist features and limit top speed.
With hunkered down well-adjustable driving position and evocative views along prominent bonnet ridges, the Mustang’s cabin is accessible, spacious, and well-equipped. It offers better visibility, headroom, and ergonomics than rivals, while easily accommodating large front passengers, and featuring useable rear seats and accommodating boot. Combining ergonomic controls and dials with retro muscle car styling, it features gated toggle switches, thick steering wheel, and good quality build, materials and textures. Comfortable seats could, however, benefit from stiffer side bolsters to match high lateral grip limits. Generously, the equipment includes smartphone infotainment compatibility, g-force gauge, and track-related instruments.
Engine: 5-liter, DOHC, in-line V8 cylinders
Gearbox: 6-speed auto, rear-wheel-drive, limited-slip differential
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 435 (441)  @6500 rpm
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 400 (542) @4250 rpm
0-100 km/h: 4.8 seconds (est.)
Top speed: 250 km/h (est.)
Fuel consumption, combined: 12.5l/100 km
Length: 4782 mm
Width: 1915 mm
Height: 1381 mm
Weight (distribution, F/R): 1691 kg (53:47)
Turning circle: 11.5 meters
Suspension, F/R: MacPherson Struts / integral link