If you look at the Ford Mustang’s roll coaster history that spans over 5 decades, it’s easy to observe that if it’s not for the cult status of the first gen model that inaugurated the pony car class in mid-60’s, the nameplate wouldn’t have survived the subsequent decades of utter mediocrity, let alone be hailed as an icon of the American automotive industry.
What was born as a pure-at-heart sportscar for masses started losing its core value down the line. The deterioration started as early as the second gen model which gained unwanted mass in its pursuit of luxury. I’m not even gonna waste time talking about the third and fourth-gen models which drove the brand into the ground. One has to be extremely incompetent to ditch a worshipped silhouette in favour of confused and hideous designs.
Fortunately for the Mustang, Ford finally woke up in 2005, and in came the fifth generation pony. Though the car, in my humble opinion, didn’t quite match the original version in terms of raw appeal, it turned out to be a much better descendent than any of the intervening generations. And it was good enough to keep the nameplate from dying an undignified death.
The sixth generation model which debuted last year seeks to restore the marque to its former glory. Like its legendary ancestor for whom songs and movies have been dedicated, the latest iteration aims to offer aesthetics, performance, and affordability in one delectable package. One more reason to be happy about the new Mustang is that it is available in RHD configuration for the first time ever. It means we Indians need not travel overseas to ogle at one in flesh. We can now spot them on public roads, right here!
Well, at an ex-showroom price of INR 65 lakhs, it isn’t exactly affordable in India but from a sportscar buyer’s perspective, the Mustang is positioned at the affordable end of the spectrum in the country. We had the good fortune of welcoming the iconic American pony into India at Buddh International Circuit earlier this week. A few laps only left us wanting more but here are our first impressions.
Has it got the swag?
To look at it, the 2016 Mustang is what it would have been had the boffins at Ford got the design evolution right from the beginning. Standing ovation to the design team is due. The unmistakable fastback silhouette, a sharp front fascia full of intent and a sporty rear end dominated by triple-strip LED taillights make up for a captivating stance. There is no car in the Indian market this side of INR 1 crore mark that can match the new Mustang in terms of sheer visual impact.
Inside, the new Mustang’s dashboard design can be described as honest. It doesn’t try to pamper the occupants with an opulence like most supercars but it does feel properly modern with SYNC touchscreen infotainment system, an array of aircraft inspired switches on the centre console and a feature rich instrument cluster.
The front seats adopt a very efficient design and contours, offering adequate side bolstering and thigh support. Overall ergonomics is what you would expect from a sportscar. Though Mustang is a coupe, it does offer two seats at the rear which can accommodate children on very short journeys. Visibility from the driver seat is not great, thanks to a massive nose and steeply raked A-pillars but it’s just a matter of getting used to.
There is no questioning the build quality. While the material quality is decent, it’s not up to the level that is expected of a car in its price segment. However, well-informed customers would know that the money is well spent elsewhere.
Where is the money spent?
The original Mustang earned its iconic status because it had the performance to back its stunning design. The new car inherits that character. In India, we only get the range-topping 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, one of the last standing naturally aspirated monsters that can satiate the purists.
The motor produces 401 PS and 515 Nm of torque, all of which are harnessed by a 6-speed select shift automatic transmission. Of course, the drive is sent to the rear wheels.
The engine idles into a muted rumble which is unique for the American pony car and goes on to voice out a deep roar when pushed hard. The exceptionally linear nature of the power delivery makes it easy to control the racing lines by modulating the throttle. The responsiveness and tractability of this V8 are qualities that turbocharged units can only dream of.
The Mustang GT accelerates so fiercely that it’s ridiculously easy to exceed 230 kmph much before the braking zone at the end of BIC’s famous back straight. The dual-clutch automatic transmission executes quick upshifts in Race Track mode but the downshifts are a bit slower than what is ideal for track driving.
Did it hold itself up around the race track?
Oh yes, it did! The Mustang carries its massive V8 motor in its nose so it feels a bit front heavy but once you factor in this character, it’s fairly easy to chuck it around the corners.
The new independent rear suspension gives the pony an agility that can be appreciated while manoeuvring the chicanes. And it held its line beautifully around high-speed corners.
Though the car behaves with discipline, it is always eager and ready to go around the corners sideways. All you need to do is provide more throttle input and catch the drift (sadly, we had to restrain ourselves from doing that because a set of Pirelli P Zero’s would have perished in a matter of few corners, and there were lot of people waiting in the queue with bated breath to get a taste of the car).
The Brembo braking system helped the Mustang shed speed from 220 kmph to 70 kmph in a matter of few seconds at the end of the back straight. So, we have absolutely no doubt about its capabilities in real world conditions. The electric steering is direct, well weighted and offers adequate feedback.
Coming to ride quality, well, it’s not appropriate to talk about it without driving the car on regular roads. All in all, the new Ford Mustang feels absolutely at home on a race track and is massive fun to push hard.
Tell me about the goodies
GT, being the range-topping variant, has no short supply of upmarket features. The highlights include multiple airbags (front, side & curtain and driver knee), ABS with EBD, ESC, Traction Control, reverse parking sensors, cruise control, SYNC infotainment system with voice command, automatic headlamps and wipers, puddle lamps, 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, push button start and more.
Should I buy one?
The new Ford Mustang GT is an excellent mile muncher with very good race track mannerisms. The spellbinding design and iconic nameplate alone are enough to seal the deal. Throw in a lovely V8 with hair-raising performance and a fun filled chassis into the mix, the deal becomes all the more sweeter.
Whenever the name Mustang is uttered, petrol heads usually associate it with the original car. Five decades later, we finally have a truly worthy successor which is capable of being to the current generation of enthusiasts what the old car was to its contemporaries – a true icon.