Unveiled last Thursday at Ford’s Go Further even in Barcelona was the new Ford Ka concept, available on a global basis in 2015. For the one person at the event who had come specifically to see the Ka, they weren’t disappointed. Everyone else, meanwhile, was salivating over the official veiling of an actual proper car – the sixth generation of Ford’s iconic Mustang.
Yes indeed – the slightly mad end of Ford’s lineup has been renovated and is back on the shelves once more – this time, it’s European. Available in Irish showrooms from 2015, which will probably annoy car dealers as consumer flock for a quick nose and a few sneaky pictures before taking off again without actually buying anything, the sixth generation is the first Mustang to be sold in Europe and in correct (right) hand drive.
At the entry level is a adequately-powered 2.3L four cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine, carrying 309 horsepowers and 300lb ft torque. Considering the previous base version had 0-60 times of 7.3 seconds, with less power under the hood, then we expect this model to be considerably faster. Respectable enough, but when you’re buying a Mustang, you want so much power going to the wheels that the G-forces rip your face off when you stand on the accelerator. Fear not, you whose Sunday fuel budget allows for such extravagance – a mind-boggling 5.0L V8 will also be on the cards, producing a jaw dropping 426bhp and 290lb ft torque coupled with a manual/selective six speed gearbox – new drivers better allocate at least a third of their petrol budget towards new tyres.
Oddly enough, for a muscle car, this Mustang will probably be much better at going around corners than ever before, adapting to our crazy European notions of negotiating bends at speed without taking out bushes, walls and pedestrians. Usually, we just presumed a straight line was all the muscle car could handle, getting ready for an oncoming bend about a mile in advance, just to make sure. But this version will have an independent rear suspension – each wheel will work in isolation, desperately searching for as much traction as possible. So, the odd looks from the Irish public at a Mustang whizzing along the back roads will only increase when they see it actually take a bend without careening into a wall.
Will it be a success, at least over here? Ford have assured the public that it won’t look a little oversized on European roads, a little out of place, like an American tourist in a large flowery shirt wandering through Cork. Shorter in length and height, though a little wider, it’s more aggressive but not quite as bulky as its predecessor. It’s more of a hearkening back to the good ol’ days of the early sixties, when the classic Mustang was first introduced to the world as a cheap and cheerful hunk of sheet metal, muscle power for the masses to enjoy. But there’s a nod, too, towards European style; where previous Mustangs could be overly boxy to be truly successful on this side of the Atlantic, this version is sleek and toned, with angry headlights and that famous Mustang rear end – it’s quite good looking, a mix of the best of American and European design, even though Ford still can’t beat the sheer beauty of those earlier models.
In the age of cars like the Toyota Prius, a horribly monstrosity which is the sum of all that is wrong with cars today, the idea of the car as something more than a box with wheels designed to get you from A to B faster than your own two feet is becoming ever rarer. That’s fine for people with absolutely zero interest in what they drive, but for the rest of us, when cars like this move towards becoming the standard, when the world becomes obsessed with smaller engines, fuel economy and range, and whether the fabric inside is really just right, that’s surely cause for despair. Soul is the ideal to which car enthusiasts aspire, and if there’s one thing the Mustang – the blue collar supercar – has in buckets, it’s soul. Most people, understandably, simply haven’t the money to buy a car like this – while the entry-level prices hopefully won’t be too far north of €40,000 (similar to Toyota’s fantastically fun GT86), the 5.0L will be considerably more, and feeding the beast will leave you fairly short in pocket change. Still, for the joy of driving around in something which makes petrolheads smile and cardiganheads growl in displeasure, that’s a small price to pay.