December 11, 2018

2018 Ford Mustang V8 International First Drive Review

Caroline travels to Nice to drive the mighty Mustang

Caroline Kidd testing the Ford Mustang in France
Caroline testing the Ford Mustang in France

The Ford Mustang arrived in Europe for the first time at the end of 2015, along with the first right hand drive models ever for the UK and Ireland. Now less than three years later, Ford has revised the Ford Mustang V8 and 2.3-litre range, with significant changes to the styling, trims, engines, technology and equipment. I travelled to Nice, France, to find out what’s new for the Ford Mustang V8 in 2018.

Styling

The 2018 Ford Mustang has been subtly restyled for a sleeker appearance and is more aerodynamic than before. The bonnet has been lowered a fraction and there are now integrated air vents which look really cool. The Mustang’s headlights, daytime running lights, indicators and tri-bar tail lights now all feature LED technology as standard, with LED foglights also available.  The lower front grille has been redesigned and at the back there is a re-modelled bumper and diffuser. The 5.0-litre V8 has standard quad-tailpipes while the 2.3-litre EcoBoost has twin tailpipes. There’s also a new optional boot spoiler. There are now eleven colours to choose from including three new colours: Kona Blue, Orange Fury and Royal Crimson. Racing stripes in white or black can now be added. There are new 19-inch forged alloy wheels offered in multiple finishes including Nickel, Ebony Black and Polished Aluminium.

Interior

They have been a few new additions to the interior. The most impressive is the customisable, 12-inch digital information cluster. New trims improve the quality around the cabin, though the Mustang is still very much the ‘working class hero’ compared to plush coupés from BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. A Carbon Sport interior package is also available across the Mustang range, including suede-effect Alcantara door and seat inserts, plus a carbon fibre instrument panel surround and gear knob. There are optional leather Recaro racing seats available in red, blue or black.

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
The interior of the 2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé

Practicality

As before the Ford Mustang is available as a fastback (coupé) or convertible with a folding fabric roof. Interior space is the same with comfortable accommodation up front and just enough room for two adults in the back. The boot can also accommodate a couple of small suitcases. A fantastic car for a road trip for two!

Engines

Ford has made some changes to the Mustang V8 to deliver more power and a higher rev-limit. Power is up to 450hp and there’s 529Nm of torque. The engine has a new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection system, which also increases low-end torque. Fuel economy is still no better than 23mpg and the ‘greenest’ model has CO2 emissions of 270g/km! But no one ever bought a V8 for economy. While on the road, the Ford Mustang V8 never feels exceptionally fast (though all models will hit 100kmh in under five seconds), but nothing can prepare you for the visceral growl of a real V8.

Power is now a little down in the 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine to 290hp, but there’s still 440Nm of torque available. This is the more fuel-efficient Mustang but you will unlikely see over 30mpg. CO2 emissions for the Mustang EcoBoost are no better than 199g/km. The engine has a transient overboost function for the turbocharger – triggered under heavy acceleration to provide an extra burst of boost following each up-shift.

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
Ford has significantly revised the Mustang for the 2018 model year

On the road

For 2018, the Ford Mustang has a new 10-speed automatic gearbox, while there’s also a 6-speed manual gearbox. On the launch, both were driven with the V8. The automatic performs very well with quick, seamless shifts. There’s also steering wheel mounted paddles. Ford has now added rev-matching technology to the 6-speed manual transmission to deliver smoother, faster downshifts accompanied by a “blip” of the engine.

The Ford Mustang V8 is quite the beast to wrestle around the small twisty roads above Nice. But this time the Mustang feels more manageable and connected to the road than before. The on-road feel is one of greater refinement, sophistication and control. It’s mighty fun to thread that big nose through a series of corners, while the rumble of the V8 provides a menacing soundtrack to your endeavours.

Some of the things Ford has done to improve the car’s dynamic appeal is add a larger front splitter that increases downforce to help keep the front end planted to the ground for greater stability. Rocker shields to the rear of the front wheel arches improve air flow beneath the Mustang, reducing drag by up to 3%. There are also recalibrated shock absorbers to improve stability through corners, and the rear suspension is stiffened with a cross-axis joint to reduce unwanted movement. Thicker anti-roll bars also help the Mustang resist body roll better in sharper turns.

The cars we drove at the launch also had optional MagneRide adjustable suspension and selectable Drive Modes, including a new customisable My Mode option. The MagneRide Damping System electronically controls higher or lower damping resistance, depending on the driving conditions.

There’s also a new Active Valve Performance Exhaust which allows you to adjust the intensity of the Mustang’s exhaust note, including a ‘Good Neighbour Mode’ which can be programmed for quiet morning start-ups!

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
Irish buyers will have to wait until December 2018 for the revised Ford Mustang to arrive here

Equipment

The Mustang’s poor 2-star Euro NCAP rating has been addressed with new safety equipment including Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control and Distance Alert.

Ford’s SYNC 3 8” infotainment system features in new Mustang and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™.

There are also performance car treats like Launch Control and Electronic Line Lock. The latter applies only the front brakes, allowing the driver to spin the rear wheels and warm the tyres while stationary. Line Lock is now also standard with the 2.3‑litre EcoBoost engine.

Two new Drive Modes have been added including Drag Strip Mode, which optimises performance for maximum acceleration standing starts, and My Mode, which enables drivers to select their own preferred settings for performance, dynamics and exhaust sound.

Pricing

Pricing for the new Ford Mustang V8 in Ireland will be announced closer to launch in December 2018. The current Mustang range starts at €55,500.

Verdict

Ford has taken this mid-life refresh as an opportunity to make considerable improvements to European-spec Mustangs. Aerodynamics and overall driving dynamics have been improved, and the Ford Mustang now feels more sophisticated and sporty on the road. Aesthetically, it’s still the classic, much-loved American sports coupé – just a little bit sleeker and safer. The technology and equipment upgrades are very welcome and the digital instrument cluster and some of the new trims really lift the cabin quality. The Ford Mustang V8 is far from posh (and it’s still a thirsty brute) but a spruce up does it the world of good.

Caroline Kidd

2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé
The 2018 Ford Mustang V8 Coupé now packs 450hp