Ford Mustang launch review New Zealand
For those few of you that don’t know, Beach Hop is an annual event held in the Coromandel coastal town of Whangamata, that has its roots strongly grounded in the ‘Rock and Roll’ era of the 1950s. And since 2001, it’s been the perfect gathering for Kiwi’s far and wide to celebrate the music, culture, style, (and of course the cars), of such a significant and emotive period.
As a bit of a launch double whammy, we were invited by Ford New Zealand to not only attend the event’s preview in Waihi, but also to drive the new (and fresh off the boat) Ford Mustang there – time to don my blue suede driving shoes I think.
Let’s skip straight to the new Mustang, shall we? From the outside, the improvements and new design tweaks are subtle, which is not a word you’d generally associate with this iconic muscle car. For the 2018 model year, Ford have opted for a more gradual change, tapering the front end, squinting the headlights (and hiding a small Pony image in them while they’re at it), plus sharpening the lower fascia. They have added vents to the hood and sculpted its lines no more power bulge. The rear showcases quad exhaust tips and there’s a small lean to the lights. There is also a rear spoiler option – go on, you know you’ll want it.
Something not so subtle is the new paintwork colours the Mustang now has available, Kona Blue and Royal Crimson and striking Orange Fury
The interior is more refined too. Extra thought has gone into both the cockpit’s design and the materials used. It’s more tactile and easier to navigate around. Recaro seats are an option but again, probably going to be on your ‘must have’ list. Sync 3 handles most of the infotainment but the instrument cluster is now a 12” digital display (previously only seen in the Ford GT – how awesome is that!). It’s completely customisable with My Mode (which can also be saved), offering you the driving data you want in the way YOU want it. In all honesty, I didn’t spend anywhere near enough time playing with this new feature, as there was driving to be had, which brings me on to….
There has been a substantial jump in the Mustang’s performance. The V8 engine now has 33 more kW (now 339 kW) and it really shows. The vehicle is more responsive, feels quicker off the mark and the same goes when heading up to triple digits. It has been given a new 10-Speed auto box (the same one that will be found in the new Ranger Raptor) that manages to select the right gear exceptionally well especially around the winding country roads plus it also skip shift’s – Wait, this may need be moved back to the ‘skip’ part. Ford’s MagneRide suspension is available and offers up heaps of cornering confidence, it really is a well-planted drive. Adaptive Cruise control and Autonomous braking are now in the Mustang’s driver aid artillery but in my opinion are usurped by the Active valve performance exhaust selector, that will move the V8 sound that the mighty Mustang produces from quiet(ish), through normal, to sport and finally Drag (where for me, it stayed).
The launch took us on a two or so hour drive from Auckland to Waihi (and then back), hugging the coastline and rounding the tight corners of the gorge. It was a spritely, grin-inducing drive, that pushed the new pony reasonably hard, but also felt composed and wanting more. Letting that exhaust note bellow out through the trees and across the seas was such a satisfying experience, that was topped off by seeing all the Hot Rods, Classics cars, American Muscle Cars, (and of course Elvis) that were to be at the Beach Hop the following weekend. As I first said, the changes to the new Mustang are subtle and on the face of it small, however, the ‘sum of all parts’ has made for a remarkable improvement to a car that has already proven to be quite a winner in the sports car market.
My advice is, Hop round to the Ford dealer, Jump in the driver’s seat and take this new bad boy out for a test drive, I reckon you’ll come away – skipping!
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