OK, so it’s no news that the new Ford Mustang is available as a right hand drive production model. Until now, you could of course import a left hand drive Mustang and have someone convert the steering wheel from the left to the right hand drive, although it must be said that some of the conversions used so much fibreglass in the dashboard conversion that the result smelt more of speed boat than pony car.
And while the new RHD Mustang may not be ultimately American (It’s actually assembled in Canada) it certainly has all of the aggressive ‘in your face’ levels of sheer USA attitude in the way it looks, and it must be said, in the way it goes.
This Mustang is of course available
with a V8, the engine in the GT model being a 306kW 5.0 litre ‘Coyote’ unit that also happens to develop an impressive 530Nm, albeit at a surprisingly high 4250rpm. That results in a 5.2 second dash to 100km/h with the standard six-speed auto (there’s a six-speed manual available, although hardly anyone has ordered one). The NZ$74,880 auto will give you an official combined 12.6L/100km fuel consumption but don’t worry, you will never even get close to that fuel. Lets be honest, you don’t buy a V8 Mustang because you are concerned with the world’s remaining fuel resources.
If you are slightly worried about the amount of black stuff sill left in the planet there is the NZ$57,880 2.3 litre Ecoboost four cylinder turbo. This one puts out 233kW, along with a quite reasonable 432Nm of torque at 3000rpm. This one will get you to 100km in around 6.2 seconds. Official fuel consumption is a combined 9.3L/100km, but as with the V8 you can pretty much forget about that.
This is also the first ever Mustang to have independent rear suspension. The previous model had been rumoured to have an independent rear end before production, but the resulting car had an old style live rear axle, prompting one Ford executive to claim that ‘customers demanded the live rear suspension’. Replace ‘customers’ with ‘accountants’ and you’d probably be closer to the mark.
But which new Mustang is better? The GT takes the first shot. Fire up the V8 and it immediately barks into life with a growling induction note and a very angry grumble from the exhaust pipes. It’s also good at doing the low speed cruise, mumbling away like a giant troll just itching for a chance to hit someone with a club. It’s also particularly good at leaving strips of Pirelli P Zero tyre rubber on the road behind you. Wild oversteer is just a twitch of a right toe away, and entertainingly the engineers have set the ESP and traction control to allow an impressive amount of latitude before the electronics kick in. The Mustang GT a bit like a playful puppy that will step wildly out of line, but in a slightly funny way. Flat out on the road the GT is pretty much a proper muscle car, one that goes like stink in a straight line, but has to be muscled through the corners. It pounces from corner to corner, rather than slicing a neat clean line as something more European would do.
And now for the Mustang Ecoboost. At t
he start it, well, starts with a sound like any four cylinder car firing up. There’s absolutely no aural drama, and you can forget the low speed cruise, as it’s pretty much silent at urban speeds. Thankfully it can still pull the massive power oversteer trick and leave just as much expensive Italian tyre compound on the road as the V8. You can thank the turbo boost, which comes on fairly early and stays pretty much until the engine runs out of revs.
It’s in the corners on the open road that the Ecoboost shines. The four pot Mustang six-speed auto (there is no manual option with this one) is 55kg lighter than the V8, mostly around the nose, which makes for a much finer instrument for encouraging the nose to turn into a corner.
Where the GT hammers away at a set of corners, the Ecoboost slides through them with a nice fluid motion, changing direction much more willingly than the GT. At high rpm the engine also reveals its true noise making ability, with a suspiciously race-like bark as the revs rise past the peak torque at 3000rpm and romp along the flat torque curve from there.
So the Mustang is actually two completely different cars, one a muscle car worthy of the name and the noise, the other a road devouring performance car – one a car to be driven mostly on urban streets, and the other to be something best reserved for the open road.
There’s also the fact the Ecoboost costs NZ$17,000 less than the GT, which is a substantial amount of money. You could settle for the Ecoboost and spend the money saved on various aftermarket bits and at least make it look faster than the GT.
And the only reason for the difference in price is the engine choice, as both cars come loaded with pretty much everything the Ford interior spec list features. There’s full leather upholstery, with heated and cooled power adjustable front seats, 8 inch screen for the Ford Sync2 system that includes sat nav, four electronic driving modes, three steering modes, and a nine speaker audio system.
You also get some neat looking chrome toggle switches at the bottom of the dashboard for various ESP modes and the like but when you touch them they are only shiny plastic. That may be acceptable to the American consumer, but it just makes the cabin feel suddenly low rent. There’s also an issue for shorter drivers as the lef
t hand door mirror only just adjusts far enough for you to properly use as a rear view mirror. I’m probably the only one who has noticed this though, as I am by far the shortest motoring writer in New Zealand.
Anyway, when it comes the question of which Mustang is better the argument is pretty much invalid. It depends on what you want out of the car. Drive it around town and want the authentic American Mustang? Buy the GT. Want a performance car that excels on the open road (and probably on the track), g
o for the Ecoboost (and maybe use the extra money you saved to get a set of machined aluminium toggle switches fitted to the dashboard)