From £33,7058
Ford’s inbound American hot rod handles British roads well enough, but leaves tyre marks across your imagination either way

What is it?

The acid test for the new Ford Mustang: our first chance to find out how well it copes with life on UK roads. In a left-hand-drive, German-registered V8-form, admittedly, given that the very first right-hand-drive examples are not expected in the country, direct from production at Flat Rock, Michigan, until later this year.

So we’ll have to wait to assess the thoroughness of Ford’s first-ever factory right-hand-drive conversion for the iconic American muscle car. Right-hand drive also imposes a slightly different engine specification than left-hook Mustangs get. Switching the steering rack to the other side of the car means fitting a different exhaust manifold for the 5.0-litre all-aluminium lump, trimming peak power to 410bhp.

‘Just’ 410bhp, then, but for less than £34k (note the cheeky £1000 price increase that Ford of Britain has imposed on the full-house V8 GT since our earlier reviews). Still, it sounds like outstanding bang-for-your-British-buck to us. But what else does your money buy?

What's it like?

A warm, genuine, effusive and enormously likeable thing to drive. Predictably quick, too, although not quite the hot hatchback slayer some may be expecting. And undoubtedly an outstanding driver’s car of a sort, but still emphatically not a sports car – even after Ford’s latest chassis reinvention.

The Mustang conducts itself well enough on British roads, but its size and heft - and ride and handling that’s still lacking in dexterity and precision compared to the best sub-£40k sports cars – make it a car best sampled at a relatively relaxed pace.

The car’s all-independent suspension is alleged to have halved its propensity to squat over its rear wheels under power, to dive under braking and to heave over lumps and bumps. That may be true in as much as the car’s body movements are shorter of wavelength and better controlled than we’re used to from American refugee hotrods. But you can still feel the full effect of the car’s 1720kg in the its ride, its dampers checking its mass heavy-handedly once the road surface calls for it and making the chassis feel unexpectedly firm on a B-road and at urban speeds.

Handling is decently poised and very engaging. There’s a moderate amount of feedback in evidence through a steering system that can be adjusted to your own preference on weight and that feels fluent enough in the less aggressive settings. Lateral grip levels aren’t huge, despite the 19in rims that the car rolls on, but you get dependable feel as it bleeds away from both axles and good balance and adjustability when cornering. Those minded to take advantage of nearly 400lb ft at the rear wheels will find that the stability control can be fully disengaged and that the car takes attitude quite progressively under power. It’s plenty of fun, then.

But guiding a perfect line through a bend will never be the Mustang’s crowning glory. That comes instead from the tuneful old-school V8 engine, whose power is simply delicious to pour onto the road, like warm maple syrup onto pancakes.

Wind it up and the car is quicker than most rivals at the money; our preliminary road test figures suggest 5.0sec to 60mph and under 12 seconds to 100mph. But it’s more enjoyable still just bowling along in touring mode, burbling enigmatically from 2500 to 4000rpm and making ordinary pace extraordinarily special. The car’s manual gearchange is short and heavy and a bit under-defined through its narrow shift gate, perhaps, but still lovely to row back and forth.

Back to top

And, of course, the cabin is a four-seater with decent passenger space, folding back seatbacks and a good-sized boot.

Should I buy one?

The Mustang is an alternative, unconventional driver’s car, but deserves plenty of success on our shores. Even the casually interested would recognise that it’s probably twice as desirable as the Holden Monaro that Vauxhall imported to Britain a decade ago, but it has a similar anti-aspirational, working-class hero appeal about it. And if everyone who bought a Monaro invests in a Mustang, Ford’s order books will be kept full for a while.

The car’s not an alternative to a good European sports car; its enduring American brief has long been for something more usable, more powerful, more robust and longer-legged than that – and, inevitably, less delicate.

But less rewarding? Not necessarily. Whatever humps your camel, man.

Ford Mustang V8 Fastback

Location Birmingham, UK; On sale now; Price £33,995; Engine V8, 4951cc, petrol; Power 415bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 391lb ft at 4250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1720kg; 0-62mph 4.8sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 20.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 299g/km, 37% AF

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
benanderson89 10 November 2015

@winniethewoo The CO

@winniethewoo The CO emissions are in Milligrams for the Mustang. The Mustang in the USA achieves 1.6g/mi, which is around 1g/km of CO. Euro6 requires tighter control, hence the drop again to 0.711g/km. Emissions such as NOx from the Mustang are also 3x LESS than a European 2.0L Diesel engine. The Mustang is very clean despite its massive power output. Whatever Diesel or Hybrid car you drive will be far more harmful to the environment compared to my V8 and we'd solve a lot of pollution problems getting rid of Diesels. As for the comparison to the Lexus - that car costs triple the Mustang new, so of course its emissions controls are going to be tighter. So, maybe stop trying to pretend you're smart, because its not working. Here's the California certification for the Mustang if you want it:[A-010-1852-1].pdf
winniethewoo 7 November 2015

Sundym you are so wrong...

That is if you mean the new 526BHP 5.2L V8 flatplane in the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R. That car happens to have 1.18lb/mile CO2 emissions. In Eurospeak, that is 335g/km. Maybe Ford are releasing two different V8's for the Mustang. It won't be a version of this flatplane... in the US write up it is stated that emissions are a weakness of this engine due to its configuration. ie. They did it on the cheap.
Sundym 7 November 2015

All irrelevant

As far as I'm aware and have read elsewhere the current V8 is being replaced within a year with a new design that produces 100bhp more , it's strange that no one else has picked up on the fact . I'm going to make an educated guess and say it will be cleaner and more powerful.