With a road presence unrivalled in the European market, a thumping great engine under the bonnet and producing an unmistakable V8 growl, the 2018 Ford Mustang has lost none of its swagger following its mid-life refresh.
From a distance it looks like little has changed but nips, tucks and upgrades – some practical, some cosmetic – are visible close-up to a learned eye and have sharpened up this already good-looking sports coupe.
The bonnet now sports air vents – the black contrast vents on our Orange Fury painted test car were very Fast and Furious.The revised lower grille design improves aerodynamics and the larger front splitter 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.
Ford Mustang GT
Price: Â£41,745 (Â£47,905 as tested)
Engine: 5.0-litre, V8, petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Economy: 22.8mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 277g/km
The rear end has also had a tidy up and if the bonnet vents, quad tailpipes and pony projecting onto the pavement underneath the door sills arenâ€™t enough for you, you can now option a spoiler to sit on the rear lid as well.
My 17-year-old self would be drooling – but it was the dads on the school run that kept asking me about the car.
â€œYes, it does look brilliant. No, itâ€™s not mine. Yes, it does always sound like thatâ€. No less than eight relative strangers stopped to ask about the car during the course of our one week test.
Itâ€™s not just a poserâ€™s car though, itâ€™s also a proper driverâ€™s one. With power on tap, a heavy – by modern standards – steering set-up and satisfyingly solid manual gear shift it feels like an analogue, old-fashioned sports car that you need to muscle into submission.
Itâ€™s an illusion – itâ€™s all very high-tech – but itâ€™s enough to trick you into thinking youâ€™re Steve McQueen and youâ€™re showing the big V8 whoâ€™s boss by the force of your will. That theatre is what makes the Mustang so rewarding to drive.
Yet more theatre, the back end is willing to kick out if you give it too much power exiting the corners and thereâ€™s a bit of understeer going in, with that long nose swinging wide at times.
The optional MagneRide adaptive suspension system – an addition since I drove the previous model – does a terrific job of minimising body roll and keeping things controlled – impressive given this is a four-seater that weighs almost 1,700kg.
Our test car was fitted with the six-speed manual transmission – but if you want the full Americana experience you can option the new 10-speed auto box which is a big improvement on the old one.
Iâ€™d personally go for the manual and Iâ€™d option on the MagneRide suspension and Recaro seats too. I would sack the spoiler though.
At a shade over Â£40,000 for the V8, three years on from its European launch and the Mustang is still in a league of its own in terms of bang-for-your-buck and sheer personality.
If youâ€™re thinking of buying one – particularly in a loud colour – just bear in mind that people will bother you about it.