Looks cool, sounds cool (if you get the V8), new dampers, excellent optional ten-speed auto
Heavy and frequently feels it, convertible too floppy, handling still lacks finesse, cabin quality
What is it?
Unmistakably still a Mustang, Ford’s hugely successful ‘Pony Car’ has been given a round of updates for the 2018 model year, which sees more power from the big V8 engine, a new automatic gearbox, detail improvements to the suspension and interior and new safety equipment that has been largely driven by sharp criticism of the outgoing model’s safety score in the Euro NCAP tests.
The styling, as iconic as ever, hasn’t been meddled with much. There are new LED headlamps and rear lights, a new bonnet with extra air scoops (or hood vents, if you want to go with the American vibe), while the aero has been tweaked a little to include a new front splitter, an optional boot lip spoiler and more efficient underbody airflow.
On the inside, the cabin has been given the mildest of makeovers with some new materials and snazzy new all-digital instruments, but the bigger changes are going on with the oily bits.
The most significant news is the addition of a new ten-speed (yes, 10 ratios) automatic gearbox, which is a Ford-built item, not bought in from the likes of ZF or Getrag. It’s supposed to improve fuel economy (which it doesn’t, much), but definitely improves performance, knocking a whole half a second off the outgoing 5.0-litre V8’s 0-62mph time.
Other changes see more power for that V8 engine (now up to 444bhp) and a new Magneride damper option for the suspension, which has a few interesting tricks up its sleeve. Plus, there’s a new collision avoidance braking system with pedestrian detection, along with active lane keeping steering and adaptive cruise control.
Oh, and for those early-morning airport runs where you don’t want to wake up the neighbours? The Mustang now has that covered with a programmable ‘quiet’ mode for the bombastic V8’s exhaust. How thoughtful.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
It might be a flawed car, but it must be doing something right – Ford out-sold Porsche in Europe in the sports car segment last year. Clearly, the styling, badge and attitude have massive appeal to anyone who’s a car nut, but it will be interesting to see if sales are maintained now the first cohort of ‘dream car’ buyers have scratched their Mustang itch.
The updates have undoubtedly improved the Mustang offering. The automatic gearbox makes the car crisper to drive, while the looks and noise give it kerb appeal that can’t be matched at this price point. It’s not sophisticated, but it is enormously good fun. Yes, even as a convertible. An EcoBoost coupe with Magneride dampers and the satisfying, hefty manual gearbox is probably the best all-round choice if you care about driving. But could you say no to the V8?