The times, they are a-changin’ for the iconic Ford Mustang.
For decades, the pony car was all about straight-ahead, tire-burning performance and affordable style. But for the 2015 edition of the ‘Stang, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of all-American muscle by turning the mean machine into more of a sports car.
For the 2018 model, just revealed in Los Angeles, Ford has gone to the next level. The growl of a big V8 now comes with a load of technologies, ensuring that the pony car will remain relevant in the 21st century.
“The new Mustang is our best ever, based on more than 50 years as one of the iconic sports cars in America and now, the world,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s boss for the Americas, said in a statement.
Controversially, Ford has ditched the V6 engine option for the new Mustang; you can have a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four or a 5.0-litre V8, sans turbo. Owners were broken into this idea with the 2015 redesign, but dropping the six-banger for the refresh will probably offend some ‘Stang-ophiles who want their car to inhale air, combine it with gas, blow it up without turbo interference — and would cherish the V6’s better fuel economy over the V8.
Logically, dropping the V6 also means that rental-car fleets will now get the turbo four.
Meanwhile, the big V8’s refinement continues.
“Ford’s legendary 5.0-litre V8 engine has been thoroughly reworked,” Ford said.
“It is more powerful and revs higher than any Mustang GT before. This power increase was achieved with the first application for Mustang of Ford’s new dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection on a V8 engine — delivering robust low-end torque, high-rpm power, and improved fuel efficiency.”
Both engine options can be had with a stick shift, while the automatic is a new, 10-speed unit. Transmission with scads of additional gears above the old-school six are common these days and contribute to better fuel efficiency, but they have run into some reliability speed bumps.
Enough about the engines. Ford has advanced the cause of technology for the 2018 model. The biggest change on the Mustang is a 12-inch, all-digital LCD instrument that “can be easily personalised, offering three separate views,” Ford said, “for normal, sport and track mode.”
The pony car is also getting smarter when it comes to driving. Ford listed “pre-collision Assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and driver alert system” as available on the new Mustang.
The refresh also brings a new design to the iconic machine, in some ways a throwback, as the Mustang appears to have slimmed down a bit.
The front end has lost some of the aggressive, 1950s fighter-jet snouty-ness that characterised the 2015 car, while Ford said that the rear has been revised to look a bit more techno.
You have to give it to Ford — the company isn’t letting up on taking risks with its most important vehicles, Mustang included, as it charts a path into the new century. But fooling around with the ‘Stang is tricky, given its hardcore enthusiast customer base. These owners don’t care about infotainment or fuel-economy — they just want to hear that Mustang roar on startup.
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