That’s not a standard Ford Mustang, is it?
Far from it. It’s got 700bhp for a start, getting on for 300bhp more than standard. But the important thing here isn’t that this is a tuned Mustang – that’s hardly a novelty back home in America – but that this is a British-tuned Mustang. Mostly using US bits, but a Mustang tuned for a European audience nevertheless. It’s been done by luxury car dealer Clive Sutton in response to Ford bringing the pony car to Europe as a proper part of the model range, and the likely appetite for bolt on bits.
Do we need a tuned Mustang over here?
I think so, yes. If I have an issue with the standard 5.0 V8 Mustang, let alone the Ecoboost, it’s that the engine sounds too apologetic, too wheezy to really convince as a muscle car. Clive Sutton offers a range of upgrades, so you don’t have to have your Mustang as decked out as this £72,500 shrinking violet.
So what’s this one got?
The works: £9,366 of carbon aerokit, the £5,496 20in wheel and KW suspension package, complete with significant suspension drop (25mm at the front, 35mm at the back) and, of course, the full £13,545 Power Package with Whipple supercharger, active quad exhaust and rear valance. Another £1,053 buys you larger throttle bodies for the supercharger and a carbon fibre intake, gaining another 30bhp.
But the important thing is that you can cherry pick from a long list – there are three levels of carbon bodykit, two suspension options and instead of a supercharger, you could just have the £4,706 CS500 pack which gives you freer breathing intakes and exhausts, a new rear valance and switchable exhaust control (basically a volume knob), adding up to 500bhp. Or you could order any of those things individually.
This one even had a multi-colour LED set-up in the headlights. It’s a bit B&Q Christmas decoration, especially since it comes with a remote control, but I can see it being a hit in some quarters, even if the £1,200 price is rather stifling. And yep, I had a play with it and can confirm that if you press red then blue at the right tempo, you do look a lot like a police car. Hmm.
So it’s all very customisable then. What would you have?
Well, not the daft lighting, much though my 11 year old thought it was the coolest thing about the whole car. I reckon the CS500 could be the sweet spot – that would counter my criticism about the standard car sounding rather plain.
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Not the supercharger then?
Probably not. Two reasons – it takes a lot of power to drive the supercharger, which means the engine has to work to feed power to the blower before the blower can give anything back. So there’s a fair bit of lag. Also, this one had the automatic gearbox. It’s just too slow reacting whether you’re demanding kickdown or manual changes with the paddles.
So give it the beans at low revs and you won’t be convinced it’s that poky – you’re overcoming the inertia in both comparatively lazy V8 and beefy Whipple supercharger before the pace really picks up.
However, once everything is hooked up and the needles start to swing, this thing absolutely romps along. Above 5,000rpm it howls, bellows and feels the full 700bhp ticket. Genuinely as quick as a 911 Turbo or Audi R8.
Really, that fast?
Against the clock probably not, but in terms of the sensations of speed, then yes, absolutely. It’s not just the noise and shove that amuse, but the sense the delivery is barely contained, that the chassis is having to brace itself against the forces involved. A couple of times under full bore acceleration in low gears there were creaks and groans, and when you come to slow down you’re very quickly aware that the brakes are more fallible than you would hope and feel dead underfoot.
Is the delivery progressive, though?
It is, hauling consistently all the way across the range with no gaps. But again the weak link is the gearbox. It has a slightly elastic feel, as if the power is stretching it slightly, so the drive at the wheels isn’t a totally accurate reflection of what the engine is doing. Imagine riding a push bike with a rubber belt instead of a chain. It’s that sensation.
However, if the CS700 packed the much more instant, direct force of, say, a 911 Turbo, I don’t think the rear tyres, massive 305/30 ZR20s though they are, would be able to cope. As it is, as long as you keep the revs up you can actually use the engine quite accurately – it responds cleanly and quickly enough.
And can it hold itself together in the corners?
There’s a hint of low speed understeer, which 674lb ft can easily overcome to neutralise your angle of attack (all without troubling the sluggish traction control) and the lowered, stiffened suspension feels far keener to change direction.
It’ll actually tackle fast sweepers in a fairly convincing manner, but through lower speed corners you’re very aware this is a heavy car and doesn’t have the chassis dexterity or steering accuracy of a proper sports car.
And the ride?
Well it’s actually quite well damped considering how shortly sprung it now is (dropped 25mm at the front and 35mm at the back), but you’d have to say it’s pretty positive. This KW set-up is the most aggressive Sutton offers, and it’s worth knowing that it’s completely adjustable, and gives the car a really good attacking stance.
It feels more purposeful alright, but you also need to know neither it, the supercharger or any of the other modifications turn the Mustang into a sports car. This is a muscle car, and the only way to change that, I suspect, would be to strip a load of weight out. As it is, the CS700 is too heavy, the steering’s not engaging enough, the responses not snappy enough.
So you wouldn’t buy one?
Put it this way, if I wanted to spend this much money to get this much power from an American motor, I’d head straight for a Dodge Challenger Hellcat – that’s an unashamed muscle car with a very clear job description.
This Mustang’s role isn’t as defined – but that’s largely down to the fact that it’s had every option thrown at it. However, I think careful option selection in the Clive Sutton catalogue would be a good way to give your Mustang more individuality and character. Maybe just add the exhaust, and come back later for the intake. And then maybe the suspension. Keep going like that and it won’t be long before you decide that you have to have 700bhp…
Torque: 674lb ft
MPG: 18.3mpg (our fig)
0-62mph: 4.4secs (our fig)
Top speed: N/A