It is good to have all sorts in the family. It fosters healthy argument and presents an entire judging panel when it comes to assessing the various facets and faculties of a car. Which is why, a boy who just learnt to pick out a Mustang pony from a prancing horse on the grille, a full-time navigator (which applies to matters beyond driving) with the license from matrimony, and arguably the most levelheaded petrol head you’ll ever come across make the perfect occupants of a Mustang Ecoboost Fastback test car.
Pony cars are what piggy banks are for, and Mustang is the American dream with the muscle to go places. Last heard, it landed up in Europe too, in right hand drive format. As for Dubai and the UAE, Mustangs are a common sight and often they are the delivery vehicles of a coming of age message!
UPSIDE: Looks impressive, drives easy, good visibility
FLIPSIDE: V8 could suit a Mustang better, good handling needs a familiar hand
THE SPECS: 2.3L Ecoboost In Line 4 engine, 6 speed ‘select shift’ gearbox with paddles, 3.55 Limited Slip Rear Axle, Power Assisted Steering, 19”Ebony black alloy wheels, Electric power assist steering, Shaker audio system, Navigation, MyKey feature, MyFord Touch with SYNC 3
THE SAFETY: 8 airbags, Driver Assistance Package (Blind Spot, Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning) Reverse Park Assist with Rear View Camera
THE PERFORMANCE: 0 – 100 in 7.5 sec as tested, 6.5 km/L as tested
Remains of the 50-year celebration on Burj Khalifa still shines bright in the Mustang cabin as a metal plate on the dashboard, with 1964 embossed on it. The new design has left three distinctive clawmarks that light up in the front and rear lamps. As the shape of muscle cars go, all the muscle is packed in boxes on all sides of the new Mustang, too. The fastback tag in the name is hardly a hint in the rear design. The positive side to that is a semi-decent boot, which is one good reason to go for a ‘muscle car’ than a roadster. Just in case 408L wasn’t enough, the rear seats could be tumbled over for plenty more. Wide stuff might have to enter sideways. The black 19” alloys look good!
Has it been said about muscle cars that ‘its strength is its weakness’? It is verily so, in all its double-edged glory. As I brought the Mustang sweeping down the ramps, I could feel the ground, under those driving rear wheels, ready to be sliding at every degree of the turn. It never did. Yet the awareness that it could if I decided to push it was largely the thrill of riding the pony. The Limited Slip Differential in the rear axle perhaps negotiates some stability to it.
The electronically assisted steering is so cooperative that I am compelled to believe the Mustang must have been more fun when men were as misogynous as their Mustangs. Today, women are having their sweet revenge by wooing the Mustang with exotic stuff like “women’s performance car of the year’ award for 2016.
If the dictum for rear wheel drive cars is ‘turn in late’, remember there is a rather long front overhang turning which makes a u-turn every time you make a sharp turn. So, I guess with the Mustang, it should be ‘Turn in even later but watch where your hood is headed”! What belies the size and shape of the car is the visibility from this cabin, especially the rear glass, which is just as big as it gets in a family saloon!
The acceleration is steady rather than a surge. The V8 is a 5.0L and things could be different there. The exhaust notes make a pastiche of the larger engine warble. Those are not characteristic of a 2.3 L engine but of the 320 hp it delivers, and the 439 Nm torque it spins at 3000 rpm! The Mustang Ecoboost Fastback 6-speed ‘selectshift’ gearbox switches rapidly but you can’t escape the limp moments of a turbo-charged in line four.
Automotive companies make it sound like each one is ahead of the rest by these terms. Like Ecoboost itself. Eco comes from being eco-conscious in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions and Boost stands for the turbocharged boost the 2.3 L engine gets. Simple when you see it that way. But the fact is the Eco is an ambitious addition as the engine still delivered only around 6.5 km per litre on the test drive. On the other hand, it did that even while being flogged like a Mustang should be!
The woman riding next to me in my test car (the permanent navigator earlier mentioned) seems to justify the drifting of female favour towards the Mustang. There is no love lost between extreme machines and her but this one seems to have left her comfortable in the seat. It isn’t too noisy either; the independent rear suspensions must be helping. Even my son in the rear would be feeling much less shut-in than in other mean machines. The seven year old sits in plenty of comfort and could remain so for a few more years. Now, none of this is to say that the Mustang has a refined ride. Now, that would beat the purpose, wouldn’t it?
Cabin and Controls
The Ford Mustang retains its flaws in driving. That is what its business model is built on. However it cannot afford to stay raw when it comes to tech-savvy. So, my test car was equipped with Advanced Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Forward Collision Warning (with bright yellow lights that screamed if I went too close, too rapidly, to a car in front!) and 8 airbags including knee airbags and canopy curtain airbags. The 8.0-inch screen at the centre had rear view camera, navigation and the Ford SYNC application for smoother telephony and media-sharing.
The instrument cluster had an array of gauges including various engine temperature parameters. What caught my fancy was the Accelerometer – a useful one among Tracks Apps for drag race enthusiasts, and drivers who never grow up – like me! The app could clock my 0-50 or 0-100 timing and the braking distance from 100 to 0! So what was it? Well, 5.8 sec to touch the 100 mark could be true for ideal conditions. In the real world, the Mustang Ecoboost hits 100 kmph in 7.5 seconds.
The Essential Ford Mustang Ecoboost
A very contemporary Mustang like design, dashboard that look like metal foil, heated leather seats make for mixed fare. The addition of some electronic gadgets and a slightly mellowed handling is preparing the archetypal American pony car for the future world – one where gender equality could have a new logo featuring a galloping horse.