Finally, the Mustang is coming to the UK?
Yes, but not for a while yet. This is our first look at the all-new Mustang, and though it will be available in countries other than the US, you won’t be able to get one in Britain for another 18 months or so. But it will have the steering wheel on the correct - by which we mean right-hand - side.
That’s the first time the Mustang’s officially been sold in Europe?
Not quite. The first generation ‘65-‘66 Mustangs were exported to Germany badged as the T5. Most of them, which only had a few cosmetic changes, were sold to US service people stationed there and shipped back to the US once their tour had finished. But there are still a few T5s blaring around the Fatherland.
So what’s the news about this new - sixth? Seventh? generation - ‘Stang?
It will actually be the tenth-gen model to wear the hallowed badge when it arrives, on what will be its 50th birthday. Ford has sold more than nine million of them to date, so expect this new one to see the Mustang over the 10m mark some time around 2016.
It looks like a Mustang.
It is definitely more evolutionary than radically new. And it would have been nonsense to do anything different. The successful Mustangs are those which have stayed true to the original’s long bonnet, cab rearward design, so there was no need, or desire, to take any chances with this new one. But the MkX, built on the latest Ford S550 platform, is a completely fresh rethink of the classic. There’s less than two per cent carry over in componentry from the current model.
What have they done to the design?
All of the trademark ‘Stang features - the shark bite grille, bluff front end, power dome on the bonnet, triple rear taillights, etc - are present and very correct. But they’ve all been subtly updated to be smoother and slicker than ever before. The overall design of the car highlights its length and lack of rake plus the fact that it is 38mm lower and 40mm wider. The window area is narrower, the A-pillar slightly (30mm) more rearward.
And the chassis?
The changes are more than just skin deep. The big news is that all models of the tenth-gen Mustang get independent rear suspension as standard for the first time. About time, too. Even though it has managed to perform miracles with its solid rear axle for years, the Blue Oval has finally grasped the nettle and done the right thing. The initial word is that a new V8-engined car with the optional Performance Pack has already beaten the Boss 302 - the best handling ‘Stang of the current generation - around the Ford test track.
So will they all be V8s?
No, there’ll be three engines in the line-up. A slightly warmer, more frugal version of the current V6, just for the US, and an uprated version of the 5.0-litre V8 that will have ‘over 420bhp’. But the big announcement in the engine room is that there shall also be a 2.3-litre version of the twin-scroll turbo EcoBoost motor available, too. This, say Ford engineers, has been ‘engineered for performance’ and will have a power output of ‘more than 305bhp’.
What? A four-cylinder engine in a Mustang?
Yes, but do not be alarmed. Ford did a similar thing when it started offering an Ecoboost V6 in its F150 pick up. After everyone had got over the shock of seeing a bent six in place of the V8, they drove it, loved it and it is now one of the biggest selling models of the best selling vehicle in the US. So it could just be the right choice.
Will it be available in right hand drive?
Yes. The new ‘Stang has been designed and engineered from the start to be either right or left-hand drive. So you will be able to see when you overtake, rather than having to rely on your passenger’s screams, or luck.
And what about the convertible?
The soft-topped ‘Stang - the US fly-drive holiday car of choice - gets all of the same mechanical changes as the coupe and a few of its own. Designed at the same time as the hardtop, it has a much flatter boot lid and generally looks a lot tidier, less fussy with the roof down than the current car. Ford isn’t giving out numbers yet but promises vastly reduced scuttle shake and improved stiffness. All the hoods are now electrically rather than hydraulically operated and made out of cloth rather than vinyl. There’s still a manual catch to open and close it, but now there’s only one central one instead of the usual two.
So how much will it cost?
We don’t know yet. But we’re hoping the base ‘Stang coupe will weigh in under £30,000, which would make it a tempting proposition against, say, the Toyota GT86 and Nissan 370Z. Too far north of that and it’ll bump into some very stiff competition from BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Even so, it’s unlikely any of the Germans will offer quite so much bang for your buck. Sorry, quid…