Caroline Kidd testing the Ford Mustang in France

2018 Ford Mustang V8 International First Drive Review

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

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland

Ford Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost Convertible Review

Scroll down to watch my video review

The Ford Mustang needs little introduction: it’s a modern icon that’s instantly recognisable and effortlessly cool. It’s now officially part of Ford’s European line-up and it’s available in right hand drive for the first time in the Mustang’s history. The Mustang is truly an iconic American muscle car and Irish buyers can now enjoy this big slice of Americana with a more European flavour from €55,500 for the coupé.

There really is nothing quite like the Mustang on Irish roads and if you want a car with presence, then this is it. You had better like attention because the Mustang draws attention wherever it goes. There is something slightly old fashioned about the design, but maybe we are just not used to seeing classic American ‘fastback’ styling on our roads yet. But this car is just so honest and cool, and you’ll want to snap every detail – from the legendary pony on the front grille, to the mean-looking tri-bar rear lights.

Inside the Mustang manages to feel special and uniquely different to any other Ford, with the Sync 2 infotainment system being the only piece of kit that’s been carried over. There’s not much sophistication to the interior, but that’s not really a criticism because it’s part of this car’s democratic appeal. There are two tight individual seats in the back. Head and legroom back there is okay rather than great, but your passengers will probably put up with a bit of mild discomfort for a trip in this car.

Standard equipment includes 19" alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, electric folding mirrors with Mustang logo projection lamps, Ford SYNC 2 with 8” touchscreen, full leather, keyless entry/start, auto lights and wipers, rear parking camera, and dual zone climate control.

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
The interior of the Ford Mustang lacks sophistication but how cool is that pony?

For this first ever version of the Mustang to be sold officially in Europe, Ford has ‘Europeanised’ the Mustang to make it a better drive. The idea is that it won’t just be fast on the straight bits - it will be good in the corners too. It’s got a new chassis with independent front and rear suspension, a limited slip differential and the handling has been developed to deliver high levels of balance, responsiveness and fun.

The Mustang is rear wheel drive with a roughly 1700kg kerb weight depending on the model so it needs big engines to move it.  There’s a V8 with 415bhp and 524Nm of torque  or a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine with 312bhp and 434Nm of torque.

My test car had the 2.3-litre EcoBoost or let's call it ‘Mustang-lite’. The V8 sounds better than the EcoBoost, and has got more power, but it’s actually only marginally quicker in a sprint to 100kmh (5.8 seconds versus 4.8 seconds). If you’re interested in economy, the EcoBoost will return you more miles per gallon. But in Ireland, you will pay significantly less to tax the Mustang Ecoboost, €750 per year versus €2350 for the V8.

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
The Ford Mustang is available in Ireland with a V8 or a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine

The EcoBoost feels like a more manageable Mustang financially but it does miss some of the drama of the V8.  There is extra engine noise synthesised through the speakers when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator, but the way the car surges forward is the same – it’s pure magic. This car is at its best when you’re just cruising along, enjoying the ambience, and the only reason you’ll be going anywhere near that gearbox is just to drop a gear to hear the engine wake up again and take off because this car is hugely flexible and powerful in any gear.

There are some limitations to the Mustang that make it less appealing as a performance car. In Ireland at some point you and your Mustang are going to end up on a tight, narrow, twisty rural road. And the Mustang just cannot disguise its size and weight in those circumstances - it’s just not sophisticated enough. You can’t fling it in and out of corners with the same zest as a hot hatch. But once you have acclimatised to being behind the wheel of a big rear wheel drive machine you will discover that there is lovely balance to the car and you can get pleasure from tucking that big nose neatly into tight corners. You’ll just be exhausted from the concentration required to do it at any great speed.

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
The Ford Mustang is an iconic muscle car that draws attention wherever it goes

The Ford Mustang does seem like great value though for sheer power and attitude. Pricing starts at €55,500 for the Coupé EcoBoost and €71,500 for the V8. The Mustang Convertible starts from €61,500. Driving the Ford Mustang is an experience like no other and the EcoBoost engine makes the Mustang far more accessible, while still retaining much of the Mustang’s natural charisma. It’s not perfect, it lacks sophistication, and it can’t disguise its size and weight on Irish roads (and in the car park), but that’s all part of the Mustang’s charm and appeal, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever regret buying it!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost Convertible
Price: 
€61,500
Power: 
312bhp
0-100km/h:  
5.8 seconds
Official economy: 
27mpg
CO2 emissions:  
184g/km
Motor tax:
€750 per year

Ford Mustang Review For Ireland
Ford Mustang: It's unlikely you'll ever regret buying this car!

Caroline's Favourite Blogs And Reviews Of 2016

ChangingLanes.ie has gone from strength to strength in 2016 and I've been lucky to have the opportunity to write about some great cars and experiences this year. This is kind of like my end of year review so I've handpicked some of my favourite blogs and car reviews from this year.  Hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!

1. A Garage Full Of Renaults

This was easily my favourite story to write this year. I discovered that there was a car collector in Clare with the most eclectic collection of old Renaults I'd ever come across. The beauty of this collection was that none of the cars were priceless classics in the conventional sense, or high performance exotics for that matter - they were the ordinary cars that people drive to work or to the shops, lovingly restored and with a beautiful story behind each one of them. It was a great privilege for ChangingLanes.ie to be the platform for car collectors Breandán and Ailbe to share their story of how they came to be the proud owners of such a collection of cars.

renault collectors
Some of Breandán's collection of old Renaults

2. Driving The Audi R8 And RS3

Audi hosted a test drive event back in April and the list of cars available to drive on the day made me sweat a little... 326bhp A7 Competition, the 310bhp TTS, the 367bhp RS3, the 610bhp Audi R8 V10 Plus…The R8 blew my mind with its power and earned a place in my dream garage.

Audi R8 V10 Plus
The Audi R8 V10 Plus

3. First Drive Of The Ford Mustang

When the Ford Mustang arrived in Ireland in right hand drive for the first time back in February, Ford Ireland organised a launch event for press to drive the 5.0-litre GT and 2.3-litre EcoBoost. Our encounter was brief but memorable.

Ford Mustang review ireland
The Ford Mustang

4. Peugeot 308 GTi

Spending a week with the Peugeot 308 GTi was a particularly nice experience. As I approached the 308 GTi for the first time, at the back of mind was the memory of the 'supermarket-spec' 308 I'd driven two years earlier, but the GTi quickly showed me that it was a different beast entirely.

tips for good car photography
The Peugeot 308 GTi

5. Jaguar F-Pace

I fell a little bit in love with the Jaguar F-Pace because it was such a bloody good drive for an SUV and I probably got a bit of an ego boost from the big grille and badge. It's hard not to feel a little bit superior behind the wheel of a €56,000 Jag and it was one of those pinch yourself moments. Did they really give me the keys to this? Has there been a terrible mistake? I would opt for an XF over an F-Pace, but I still have huge respect for this car and the XF DNA runs deep through it.

Jaguar F-Pace Review Ireland
The new Jaguar F-Pace

Honorary mentions for other memorable drives in 2016: SEAT Ibiza Cupra, Audi A4, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf GTE.

Caroline Kidd


Ford Mustang review ireland

2016 Ford Mustang Review (Ireland)

Caroline drives the 2016 Ford Mustang!

I don’t usually start reviews with long, meandering introductions but please allow me to indulge myself this once. The Ford Mustang has made numerous appearances on TV and in films, video games and books over its 50 year history so predictably I’m going to start with my own popular culture reference because that’s how the Mustang first came on my radar. So here we go.

As a child I read a lot of books and that’s where I came across Miss Americana herself, Nancy Drew. Nancy was cool because not only was she a super sleuth but she also drove a Mustang. So naturally I grew up thinking it was normal for young women to drive Mustangs.  Those Charlie’s Angels had them too but I always thought they were a bit more subservient, with too much time spent sitting on bonnets in bikinis for any real work to be done. Nancy was a bit feistier. It wasn’t her boyfriend’s Mustang, it was always her Mustang.

But of course this was the 1990s and no one in Ireland drove a Mustang except for a few die-hards with an imported left hand drive model, and even with those few, you’d only ever see them static at a show. The Mustang was the real American, rear wheel drive sports coupé that was never ‘Europeanised’, a little piece of American culture preserved, carrying its own loaded fantasy of hot, dusty highways, the freedom of the open road and handsome men in plaid shirts. Legend has it that it didn’t always drive that well but in our minds it was perfect.

The Ford Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost
The Ford Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost

New 2016 Ford Mustang arrives in Ireland!

Now the Mustang is in Europe for the first time in right hand drive, though the Americans have refused to move the handbrake over to a more comfortable position for the driver. It’s easier to take a drink from the cupholders than for the driver to operate the handbrake. But more on that later.

On Monday morning I prepare for my day in Dublin and the small matter of a car swap. I think briefly that maybe I should dress more for the occasion - fringed jacket, Stetson and cowboy boots - but in the pursuit of professionalism, I quickly dismiss that thought. I pick up a car and head west to Palmerstown House where Ford Ireland is launching the 2016 Ford Mustang to the Irish motoring media.

Ford is touting this as the European spec Mustang but it’s still made in the USA, which adds to the authenticity. However, what it does mean is that you get it for the first time in right hand drive. The chassis is designed to meet the driving expectations of European drivers. It won’t be just fast on the straight bits, it will be good in the corners too.

In addition to the full fat 5.0-litre V8, there’s Mustang-lite available in the form of a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol. It has lower CO2 emissions and €750 for annual motor tax if you can’t stomach the €2350 for the V8.

First up is the yellow Fastback (coupé) and it’s the V8. The engine produces 410bhp with 524Nm of torque and will hit 100kmh in 4.8 seconds. The Mustang looks racy from every angle – long, muscular bonnet, big, upright grille, classic fastback sloping roofline and short rear deck.

 

The inside of the Ford Mustang
The inside of the Ford Mustang

Inside the new Ford Mustang

Sitting into the 2016 Ford Mustang for the first time, I was hoping it wouldn’t feel just like a Mondeo but the only part that’s familiar is the touchscreen for the Sync 2 infotainment system. The centre console has some lovely big chrome switches. There’s a small plaque on the dash to remind you that the Mustang has been galloping since 1964.

The seat is way out of adjustment for me so I press the switch to bring the seat forward and after what feels like ages my feet can finally reach the pedals. The handbrake is sort of awkward to use if you have a passenger. That's because Ford didn’t move it over to the other side of the centre tunnel when they adjusted the Mustang for right hand drive. So it doesn’t quite feel natural to use at first.

From the driver’s seat, you can see the long, high hood stretched out ahead.  So it’s a bit intimidating when you’ve just stepped out of a Fiat 500, but the Mustang eases forward gently and is easy to control. It’s a manual y’all!

The V8 idles with a rich rumble but you can conduct it like an orchestra with your right foot. The test drive is too short to fully access the nuances of the car’s ride, steering and handling. But I can categorically say you will definitely have enough power and noise. Oh yes lots of that.

It’s really very addictive to keep it in a low gear and just accelerate and accelerate. It’s a very tonal and complex and multidimensional sort of noise. On the motorway, it’s more of the same - take some speed off, drop a gear and then accelerate for the sheer fun of hearing the engine wake up again.

The Ford Mustang V8 in Ireland
The Ford Mustang V8 in Ireland

We drive the Mustang 2.3-litre EcoBoost

Next up is a red Mustang convertible with a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine.  This engine configuration puts the Mustang in the reach of more buyers. It’s still powerful - 313bhp, 434Nm of torque and 0-100kmh in 5.8 seconds - and is more economical with lower CO2 emissions when compared to the V8. It doesn’t sound as good or authentic as the V8.

But you see I’m not driving it fast enough. I may need an airfield to fully test this one. The more and more you push the EcoBoost you get more of the drama and occasion of the V8. The V8 makes you feel like a bad boy/bad girl coasting along quite leisurely.

So how much for this slice of Americana?  The Fastback (coupé) starts at €49,000 for the 2.3 litre EcoBoost with a standard manual transmission. The V8 comes in at €65,000 for the same configuration. The convertible starts at €55,000 for the 2.3-litre EcoBoost. The V8 version is €73,000. Ford Ireland has pre-orders for 40 Mustangs and is already predicting complete sales for 2016 at 100 units.

The 2016 Ford Mustang is a really interesting car. Its image and status precedes it and it’s hard to approach it cerebrally just because who doesn’t want to feel like a younger, cooler, better-looking version of themselves? It’s no Mondeo in a fancy skirt – it’s a full fat, rear wheel drive sports coupé. You can make mine a Ford Mustang V8.

Caroline Kidd