herald

Friday 9 December 2016

bite the Bullitt

First right-hand drive 2.3 litre Mustang is awesome and I want one, writes Philip Hedderman

IT may have taken 51 years but the arrival of a true legend has been well worth the wait.

Yes folks, we can only be talking about the Ford Mustang and the first right hand models ever made.

And the good news doesn't end there as this muscle car is a genuine blue collar monster like the original.

For the price of a Munich minicab you could be sitting behind the wheel of the most iconic car ever to come out of America.

Pitched at €46,000 - the price of a diesel 5 Series BMW or Audi A6 - you could be Steve McQueen in Bullitt, all day every day.

Given the fact that its been in production since 1964 there have been many Mustangs - nine million to be precise.

Unfortunately those from the 70s, 80s and the 90s were pretty forgettable in both design and raw performance.

Like Coca Cola and proper Kentucky fried chicken it was time to go back to the original recipe and produce a modern day classic steeped in the past.

NOSTALGIC

Park the newbie beside the granddaddy and you'll see the same distinctive bonnet creases, razor sharp pinches down the flanks, the massive hunched wheel arches at the back and, of course, the signature short tail.

The attention to detail is so intense that the ninth generation even sports the three gill-like vents beside the headlights to complement the shark bite grille.

It's a similarly nostalgic affair at the rear with the three vertical bar lights either side of the galloping chrome pony.

What we here in Europe didn't want was the ride and handling associated with US muscle cars.

Thankfully, the boffins at the Blue Oval Badge (you won't actually see the F-badge anywhere) have redesigned the chassis steering and suspension so it'll actually go around pesky little things called corners. They've also dumbed down the block from a V8 to a four-cylinder 2.3 litre EcoBoost.

Now before you start cussin' and a hollerin', it's the same twin turbo 314bhp unit that'll power the new Focus RS.

And it's no slouch - hitting 0-100kph in under six seconds and while it doesn't quite snort and growl like the 5.0litre it does sound fantastic (thanks to enhanced acoustics piped into the cabin).

The new double ball-joint front MacPherson strut system also enables the use of large, powerful brakes while independent rear suspension keeps the tail in check.

Both the fastback and convertible come with performance packs and limited slip-diff as standard as are the 19-inch alloys.

The short throw, notchy gearbox is an absolute joy as is the appreciative nod of the bonnet every time you shift up a gear. Some puritans would argue that without the V8 it's as pointless in the Mustang as a cheese burger without the cheese.

Not so. It would be almost impossible to justify the €2,350 a year road tax bill over just €750 on the EcoBoost or Economy of 35mpg.

What's not disputed is the magnificent good looks, it's iconic status and, most importantly, the price.

Let's face it, the Mustang is not the kind of car you are ever going to sell ... it's a keeper.

But it's far from perfect - with some cheap and nasty features on the dash (the toggle switches were blindingly chrome and looked plasticy) to the virtually non-existent legroom in the rear seats.

The drive select options - Normal, Sport, Track, Wet and Snow - seemed all the same and we managed to get the tail out just as easy in Normal as in Wet.

Still the new Mustang is - if you'll excuse the Americanism - awesome, and I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

the new SEAT Leon ST Cupra has been crowned the fastest estate car around the Nürburgring with a lap time of 7.58.12 minutes. ground-breaking best time of 7:58.12minutes

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