Ford Mustang review - V8 GT, EcoBoost and Shelby GT350 driven

evo staff
16 May 2018

Still not quite comfortable on British roads, the Mustang is nevertheless fast, good value and a lot of fun

Evo Rating: 
From £33,675
Looks, noise, performance, value, right-hand drive
Unravels on rougher roads, we don't get the Shelby GT350

The Ford Mustang is not the polished driver’s car its new European focus and independent rear suspension might suggest. Unfortunately, it lacks the body control of its best performance car rivals (irrespective of price) and doesn’t transmit enough information through the steering.

But it’s still a genuinely satisfying car, with great styling, a thundering soundtrack and a real sense of fun whether you’re on the daily commute or driving briskly. That Ford has chosen to offer it in right-hand drive is something to celebrate.

The Mustang is offered in both 2.3-litre Ecoboost and 5-litre V8 GT forms, and it's the latter we'd go for. Yes, you pay more for the privilege and it'll probably use more fuel, but if you've been waiting years for an officially-sanctioned European Mustang then falling at the final hurdle by opting for four cylinders seems like a great shame. The V8's noise, feel and performance are all textbook pony-car stuff.

If you live across the pond, then you should seriously consider the Shelby GT350 or GT350R. Its 5.2-litre flat-plane crank V8 and more focused chassis helps transform the Mustang into a much more serious road and track car. It requires commitment when driving fast, but is incredibly engaging.

> Read our full review of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

Ford Mustang in detail

> Performance and 0-60 time - The Mustang GT is the UK's best performer, dispatching the 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds depsite a lardy 1771kg kerb weight, while the Ecoboost requireds another second to hit 62mph and can only hit 145mph.  Read about the Ford Mustang's performance here

> Engine and gearbox - The 5.0 V8 is thirsty, but brilliant at embracing the muscle car vibe, where as the 2.3-litre Ecoboost turbocharged variant doesn't provide the performance, fuel economy or soul it needed to upstage its bigger brother.  Read about the Ford Mustang's engine and gearbox here

> Ride and handling - Despite finally adopting an independent rear suspension set up, the Mustang still resolutely adhere's to its American heritage by lacking resolved body control and feedback from the front wheels to thrill on European roads. Read about the Ford Mustang's ride and handling here

> MPG and running costs - Low running costs were never going to be the Mustang's strong point, but they are at least trying with the Ecoboost model. Comparative fuel and tax bills might make that BMW 430i look a little more enticing though. Read about the Ford Mustang's mpg and running costs here

> Interior and tech - Unlike Mustang's of old, the interior is not the plasticy affair you might expect, although it still doesn't get close to German and Japanese rivals. Ford's excellent SYNC 3 infotainment system does make a welcome appearance though. Read about the Ford Mustang's interior and tech here

> Design - Ford didn't hold back on the design of the Mustang, appealing to its retro heritage, while still appearing contemporary. In a sea of BMW 4 series and Audi A5s the Mustang will definitely get you noticed. Read about the Ford Mustang's design here

Prices, specs and rivals

Sitting at the foot of the Mustang range is the £33,675 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost; next up the ladder is the 5-litre V8 GT, priced at £38,165. This duo comprise the entire Mustang model line-up in Europe, where the GT350 models aren’t offered, although there are limited editions from time-to-time.

A manual gearbox is standard, although an automatic transmission is available for around £1500 on both variants. Either can also be had in convertible form for a £3500 premium.

Cylinder count, swept capacity and performance aside, the differences between the 2.3 and 5.0 aren’t major. As standard the EcoBoost car comes well-equipped, benefiting from a limited-slip differential, xenon headlights and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility. To rein in the V8’s extra grunt it gets more-powerful Brembo brakes, and there are line-lock/launch control functions, too.

The Shadow Edition currently occupies the ‘special’ slot, atop the Mustang tree, but brings nothing more than extras borrowed from the otherwise optional Custom Pack, including the upgraded stereo, ventilated seats and reversing sensors. Commanding an £1800 premium, we’re not convinced the Shadow is worth it in the light of its lack of mechanical modifications.

Rivalry comes in the shape of the evergreen Nissan 370Z and spritely BMW M240i. The Japanese coupe offers the budget option, priced some £4000 less than the smaller-engined Mustang, but its charms are starting to wear thin in its advancing years. However, the sharper 370Z Nismo and the V8 GT Mustang are on a price par.

BMW’s junior coupe, the £37,390 M240i, may compete in a different size bracket, but it splits the two Mustangs in performance terms. It’s more polished than the Ford and better built too. That said, it’s not a full-fat M-car, so doesn’t carry the exclusivity factor like the American pony car.

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