The automotive world is largely, like most consumer products, defined by numbers. When choosing a new car, buyers will decide how much to spend then consider a range of different factors that will ultimately lead to a final decision. Numbers like price, vehicle size, warranty length, servicing costs, fuel economy, airbag count, infotainment screen size, the number of seats, and resale values play a large part in of the decision making process for most car shoppers.
Enthusiasts will put an emphasis on numbers like power, torque, acceleration and lap times. But in many ways these numbers, even the important ones to car enthusiasts, fail to convey how a car can make you feel. Those feelings that can’t be tallied on a spread sheet!
Enter my new Mustang.
I took delivery of my race red Mustang GT fastback with six-speed manual transmission in March this year. The car was on order for 12 months and six days and as the saying goes “good things come to those who wait”. It is the longest I have waited for anything, let alone a new car.
The purchase of a Mustang was never about fuel economy, or how many cupholders there are or even how fast it would be! None of the usual, rational car buying considerations factored into the decision to buy one. It was purely heart over head.
The Mustang is all about appealing to the senses. The styling, the noise, the smell of burning rubber (so I’m told) and the feel of driving a muscle car skew heavily in the want rather than need factor for a car like this.
In more practical and analytical ways, the Mustang shapes up well when you consider its target market. The centre piece of the mechanical package, a revvy 5.0-litre V8 engine, is both smooth and plenty powerful. Unlike the supercharged version found in locally made Fords, the Mustang prefers revs to deliver its performance in a way only a naturally aspirated engine can.
It’s also a great sounding engine, especially when fitted with an aftermarket exhaust (highly recommended!).
The six-piston Brembo brakes, whilst grabby in their initial travel, are exceptionally strong. The ride is firm but tolerable and tends to improve at highway speeds. Drivers also have the ability to cycle through various drive modes that range from mild to wild, altering throttle sensitivity, steering weight and ESP thresholds. These, like the track apps and extensive engine information presented in the multifunction display, add a little theatre to the whole experience.
The interior looks great, with plenty of feel-good retro touches. Features like heated and cooled seats are a welcome addition as is the well resolved Sync 3 infotainment system that makes music streaming and other phone related tasks safe and easy to execute.
I also love the low seating position, something that evaded the locally made sporty Falcons. The material quality does vary though, and it definitely lacks attention to detail in some areas. The poor placement of the cupholders and handbrake for example.
Negatives, in addition to the interior foibles, include poor panel alignment. This is something that seems to afflict most current generation Mustangs and in a way reflects its low cost, high volume American production philosophy.
The manual gearbox could also be a bit more refined and slicker in its operation. But these shortcomings are put into context when you consider its relative low purchase price. No other V8 powered coupe exists this side of an AMG Mercedes.
Returning to the ‘feel’ factor, there is no getting around the fact this is a feel good car. Every drive leaves you grinning like an idiot, taking the long way home every time, savouring the sound. And once parked, the stunning attention to the styling details leaves you staring for hours.
On a very personal level, this car has changed my life. Whilst it may seem weird, it has brought me out of my shell and made me a more confident person. A car this extroverted will do that! I have met so many friendly people over the last few months because this car makes its owner the centre of attention.
The prompt for this review centred on conveying the idea that cars are more than A-to-B devices, more than numbers, on-paper specs and ANCAP safety ratings. They get under our skin. They are expressions of our personalities. They create memories. They make us FEEL GOOD.
And if a car can also lead to personal improvement, all the better.