You can imagine how chuffed I was, painting a set of 11s on the tarmac during my first drive of a manual Ford Mustang GT with its hearty naturally aspirated V8 engine.
In fact, it was around this time last year that I was singing its praises on social media. It all culminated at the end of last year when we ran our performance car test at Motorworld.
I flung the Mustang around the track and was blown away with how dynamic it felt, for such a big car, and how enjoyable it was to drive at its limits.
That all came crashing down this week when we received a media release from local crash-testing body ANCAP. I thought the title was a mistake: "Ford Mustang scores concerning 2 star safety rating." (Read the story here.)
It wasn't a mistake. The car I and thousands of other Australians had fallen in love with, scored one of the worst test results in ANCAP history.
What's even worse is that it's now been revealed that ANCAP approached Ford multiple times through 2016 to see if they could supply a vehicle for crash testing. The organisation even looked at purchasing a vehicle, but, thanks to the Mustang's popularity, the waiting list was simply far too long.
ANCAP had to approach its European sibling, Euro NCAP, to ask for the vehicle to be tested. It's an important test, because it was the highest-selling vehicle on the Australian market without a crash rating. It's also a vehicle that was being reviewed as a new highway patrol vehicle for police.
This crash test result isn't just a technicality, either. Airbags failed to deploy correctly, and the full-width frontal test showed “a risk of serious head, chest and leg injury for the rear passenger." This is some very, very serious stuff.
It's so serious that I've vowed I won't set foot in a Ford Mustang again until these shortcomings are resolved and the car is retested. Could this be the reason Ford rushed to release a facelift of the Mustang with added safety gear and a revised design?
I won't risk my safety, the safety of pedestrians or the safety of my family and colleagues by driving this vehicle. If I was a customer that had one on order, I'd be cancelling the order. I value my life, good health and the safety of others far too much to risk it by driving a car that is potentially incredibly unsafe.
If you're a Ford fan, don't just bury your head in the sand and claim it's the fun police taking over. This is a very serious safety risk, and one that you as a customer or fan should absolutely not accept.
It's not like the testing regime is a surprise, either. Some 25 vehicles have been tested under the new regime, and most have passed well. It's also not just sports cars doing poorly, because other sports cars tested have scored at least four stars. It's also not just a Ford thing - the Ford Transit Custom van scored five stars under the new regime.
I feel for customers that have taken delivery of their Mustang. Resale values are probably going to dive and anybody with a conscience won't drive their car again.
It's 2017 and a company the size of Ford should not have a car on the market that achieves only two stars. The requirements aren't new and Ford has, or had technologies available to meet a five star standard when the Mustang was released. It's not good enough. Ironically, Volvo, the company Ford offloaded in 2010, owns the three best EuroNCAP scores ever.
Sorry Ford, you've lost my Mustang patronage.
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