The Ford Mustang is a name that is as old as time itself. Found on every continent around the globe and universally loved by everyone except those in a crowd. Mustangs are idolized by those who own them and desired by those who wish to.
The very mention of the Mustang’s name sends chills down my spine as my mind brings up images of the Mustangs through the years, sounds of the V8 and of course the memes about clearing crowds. But this Mustang is separated from those memories in one major way.
It does not have a V8! Yup, you read that right. Now, don’t blame the emission scientists just yet because the concept of a non-V8 Mustang is as old as the name itself. The beloved Mustang of the 1960s came with a V6 option! The previous generation of the car also had a four pot engine but this one is different because Ford has decided to really own the badge.
The previous one hid away in shame where the four cylinder options did not get badges on the side stating the displacement of the engine and they only had twin exhaust tips as well. You almost got the sense that Ford was not proud of what they had done and the public opinion certainly seemed to reflect that.
On the other hand, this new turbo Mustang high performance is dotted with 2.3L badges on the sides and on the interior. While the galloping horse earns the right to have stripes on the badge once again. All this is thanks to a little in house tuning courtesy of Ford.
You might have heard of Ford’s aptly named performance department called Ford Performance. They have been responsible for cars like the astonishing Focus RS, the brilliant new Fiesta ST and this new Mustang among others. What Ford Performance have done is take the cracking 2.3L turbocharged engine from the previous generation Focus RS and offered it in a rear wheel drive Mustang. Which means that the rear wheels have the ability to put down all of the 236kW created by the engine along with 448Nm of torque. Not bad for a four pot eh?
The fastback body shape along with those retro style wheels are certainly an homage to the Mustangs of old. Surprisingly this turbo Mustang also gets quad exhausts which are not afraid to make a bit of noise every now and then.
Despite the changes that the Mustang has seen through the years, it is still not a luxury coupe. It was never designed for that purpose either, something that is clear when you look closely at this new cabin. The plastics are mostly rough, the leather is a bit thin in places and the build quality is a little dodgy here and there. Though you do get a very good set of leather Recaro racing seats. The rear seats are also leather but rather uncomfortable as you would expect so avoid those if you can.
Just like the exterior, the cabin also features little touches that honour the history of the car. For example, the buttons in the middle of the dashboard are designed to look like something out of the Mustangs of old or the Mustangs that took to the skies. The steering is a big round unit just like those in the classic Mustangs. You also get a cool little galloping horse graphic on the infotainment screen which is Ford’s easy to use SYNC system.
The Mustang name is loved by everyone because while they are famous for racing between the lights and doing burnouts, there is a certain charm that name has had throughout the years which has seen it featured in movies and idolized in pop culture. Along with that, you will be unlikely to find a person who hasn’t seen or heard of the Ford Mustang. Dynamically, this car is excellent to drive because the smaller engine is naturally lighter which makes the car less nose heavy and means you can throw it into corners with a bit more confidence than the V8.
Does this Mustang still have that charm? Yes! You can still do burnouts and there are plenty of galloping horse badges all around the car to give you that kick of heritage. That iconic body shape has stood the test of time and the new Mustang still attracts eyes and the occasional ear when you are accelerating hard. In short, I know this is a completely different animal to those V8 Mustangs but if this is the future then bring it on!
The Ford Mustang High Performance receives a 4/5 from me.
Words and photos by Matthew D’souza