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Muscling in: The New Ford Mustang is on sale in the UK

new Ford Mustang

Eight cylinders, three pedals and no turbos. The seventh generation Ford Mustang fastback coupe and cabriolet here. Go on, you know you want to.

The car that kick-started the muscle car boom is back for its seventh generation - the second iteration as a right-hand drive, official UK model. It is impossible to confuse this car for anything else - the overall silhouette is familiar but with strong, sharp lines accentuating the long bonnet and hilariously flared hips. A design staple of the model is the triple-segment rear light arrangement but for the S650 generation (not to be confused with a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class) this is mirrored with the LED headlights creating a good degree of design symmetry and a quickly recognisable signature.

The front of the car is dominated by a large trapezoid-shape grille with two nostril-like inserts which sit below the angular bonnet with an air outlet up top. A small lip spoiler features on the bootlid and at the bottom of the bumper, four exhaust tips let you and the world around you hear the sound of the 5.0 litre, 32-valve naturally aspirated V8.

The engine features a dual air intake and dual throttle body design which allows the car to run efficiently at low speeds with one throttle body open, or with no regard to fuel consumption at high RPM. This is paired with a tandem direct injection and port injection system to bring strong low-end torque and high-end power to the party. The fourth-generation Coyote V8 comes with a polymer-coated forged-steel crankshaft. The 2.3 litre four-cylinder turbo engine will not be coming to our shores; this was available when the previous generation launched here but was dropped after Ford found that the vast majority of sales were for the V8 version.

new Ford Mustang

This time around, there are two flavours of V8 available with the Mustang GT pumping out 439 hp and 540 nm (398 lb ft), whilst the Dark Horse brings this up to 446 hp with the same peak torque. The power is sent to the rear wheels with either a 10-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual...which you already know is the one you want.

This makes the new Mustang the cheapest way to get a brand new car with a naturally aspirated V8 engine and a manual 'box in the UK. The GT gets a automatic rev-matching with its gearbox whilst the Dark Horse has a flat-shift function which allows you to row through the gears without lifting your foot off the accelerator. My experience of flat-shifting is limited to rental cars without any trickery to prevent the engine from instantly hitting the rev limiter so I imagine that the function provides smoother full power shifts than what I managed in northern Spain a few years ago. 

If the exterior is high on the retro-modern theme, the interior is slightly more tech-focussed. A customisable digital drivers display is linked directly to the 13" infotainment screen and looks very similar to the Mercedes-Benz Widescreen Cockpit and the latest BMW iDrive layouts. The display content changes with each of the car's drive modes, which include Normal, Sport, Slippery, Drag, Track and an individual mode to customise the response of the Mustang to your tastes.

new Ford Mustang

new Ford Mustang

As one would expect, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard along with a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker stereo. But what is given can also be taken away; physical controls for the air conditioning have been binned and most climate functions now sit on the infotainment screen. A few shortcut buttons remain for things like volume control and rear window heating.

Mercifully, buttons remain on the steering wheel for cruise control, drive mode select and answering phone calls. Perforated leather seats are standard on the GT with two-piece RECARO seats optionally available for the coupé only - keep in mind, this option removes the seat heating and ventilation functions. There is, of course, room for four with two seats in the rear of the cabin. There are two options for headroom: some or quite a lot - the convertible has launched at the same time as the coupé for unlimited headroom and even better audio from the V8 engine.

If the GT is the everyday usable Mustang, the Dark Horse is designed for keener drivers - think of it as the GTS of the range. Coming with the Performance Package as standard which comprises uprated fans, a lightened radiator, an auxiliary engine oil cooler and a rear-axle cooler. This is joined by a Torsen limited-slip differential and an electronic handbrake which is designed to be used to get the Mustang to drift.

new Ford Mustang

new Ford Mustang

I'm not making that up - Ford themselves highlight the drifting capability of the Dark Horse in their press release. It doesn't stop there; Dark Horse Mustangs also get chassis tweaks in the form of larger rear anti-roll bars, a front strut brace, heavy-duty front dampers, Brembo six-piston front brakes.

Visually, the Dark Horse is differentiated from the GT with a redesigned front end that houses a deeper lower front air intake and slanted bumper inserts. A larger bonnet vent is complimented by larger side sills, a large rear spoiler and four huge exhaust tips which look like they could easily hold a watermelon.

I've already spent some time on the configurator and found Vapour Blue to be the colour for me! Catching my eye in the optional equipment section is the Magneride Damping system with Pothole Mitigation. Nobody can say that Ford doesn't know this market rather well. This intelligent active suspension can apparently detect when a wheel is about to drop away and catch it, thus reducing the effect of traversing what the local council would call a "properly maintained road." Having broken two alloys on my own car last year, this suspension sounds very appealing to me. It's also standard on the Dark Horse.

new Ford Mustang

new Ford Mustang

That's enough spec for now though! Whilst the car has only just gone on sale in the UK, it has been out for a while in the USA where the reviews are already in. Motorweek praises the everyday usability and fun-factor on a backroad. They describe the ride as firm but far from abusive and say that the car is not just a better Mustang but the best yet. MotorTrend says of the engine: "With how power builds in that classic atmospheric way, spinning it to redline is a treat. Even from a slow roll, the accelerator's sharp, near-EV responsiveness lets the Mustang GT lunge forward with only a little flex necessary from your ankle." 

Here's how the handling is reported by Car & Driver:  "A nose-heavy 3827-pound (1,735 kg) curb weight means the GT can never deliver the same lateral satisfaction as a Toyota GR Supra or Nissan Z. A numb front end with next to zero steering feel doesn’t help things, and occasionally creates a sketchy ice-skatey vibe because you don’t know how much grip is available. Once you get used to the mass, though, you can hustle the Mustang GT.

"It’s a pony car through and through, slow through corners and fast on the straights. You just have to manage the weight and keep an eye on brake temps (we got a strong whiff of hot brakes after about 20 minutes of serious canyon carving). We suspect most buyers will use the GT where it feels best: Straight roads and open highways, where you can get the most out of the delectable powertrain. If that’s your plan, we suggest skipping the performance pack to smooth out the suspension, saving a couple of bucks in the process."

new Ford Mustang

How about the gearboxes? Road & Track also said: "The 10-speed is actually good now. The steering wheel-mounted paddles respond well to commands, giving crisp downshifts on deceleration where the prior version of this ‘box would fumble and lag. It’s not eight-speed ZF good, but the differences are slim enough to where most drivers won’t notice.

"Pop the GT into sport or track mode, and the transmission will react to braking and steering inputs to feed you the correct gear. It’s clear a lot of time was spent dialing in the software—sensible considering 73 percent of all V-8-powered 2024 Mustang orders so far have been specced with the auto. Instead of neutering the experience, the 10-speed allows for legitimate fun for more people. And we’re all for that."

We'll have to wait a little while longer for the new Mustang to arrive in the UK and you can count me among those interested in driving it. Which one looks most appealing to me on paper? If you've read my buying guide for the Mercedes-AMG C 63 you'll know that I'm currently in the mood for a convertible...

The new Ford Mustang is on sale now from £55,585 for the GT Fastback coupé manual, £59,085 for the convertible and £65,585 for the Dark Horse. The 10-speed auto is a £2,000 option on all models, so save yourself a few pennies and save the manuals whilst you're at it. Do it. I implore you. Give Ford a reason to keep the naturally aspirated V8 on our roads and in our market for as long as possible. You know you want to.

new Ford Mustang

Specs: Ford Mustang GT manual [auto]

Powertrain: 5.0 litre naturally aspirated V8, rear-wheel drive

Transmission: 6-speed manual [10-speed automatic]

Output: 439 hp, 540 nm (398 lb ft)

0 - 62 mph: 5.3 seconds [4.9 seconds]

Top speed: 155 mph

On sale: Now

Coupé OTR price from: £55,585 [£57,585]

Convertible OTR price from: £59,085 [£61,085]

Specs: Ford Mustang Dark Horse manual [auto]

Powertrain: 5.0 litre naturally aspirated V8, rear-wheel drive

Transmission: 6-speed manual [10-speed automatic]

Output: 446 hp, 540 nm (398 lb ft)

0 - 62 mph: 5.2 seconds [4.4 seconds]

Top speed: 163 mph [155 mph]

On sale: Now

OTR price from: £65,585 [£67,585]


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