Updated versions of Australia’s top-selling sports car, the Ford Mustang, will be available in dealers from the middle of 2018.
There are a number of substantial improvements for the MY18 Mustang. Its looks are being billed as more “athletic”, it comes in more bold colours, gets more in-car technology and active safety systems, and comes with MagneRide adaptive dampers for the first time.
More importantly, the top-selling V8 engine option has been uprated, now pumping out 339kW to the rear wheels. There’s also a new 10-speed automatic gearbox option in place of the old six-speeder.
However, this suite of upgrades does come at a price. The RRP of the range is now between $4000 and $8793 steeper than before, with the GT Fastback V8 auto volume-seller now tipping over the luxury car tax (LCT) threshold.
Given sales of sports cars almost always decline as the life-cycle shadow lengthens, it seems clear that Ford is skewing the ‘Stang a little upmarket.
There’s a new 12-inch digital instrument cluster, apparently inspired by the Le Mans-winning Ford GT race car, that’s somewhat reminiscent of the Volkswagen/Audi, Active Info Display/Virtual Cockpit setups.
You can customise the displays for Normal, Sport and Track modes (that adjust shift points, exhaust noise and so on…), and choose settings including the colour and gauge layout. A memory function lets you save your favourite drive settings, including suspension and steering preferences.
The centre console gets a new hand-stitched wrap with contrast stitching and padded knee bolsters while the door handles, rings and bezels are finished in aluminium.
Restyled seating surfaces feature new patterns, while there’s also six-way leather-upholstered Recaro sports seating as a factory-fitted option. All Mustangs feature an instrument panel with an updated Mustang badge, while there’s a new key fob design.
Potentially addressing the old car’s substandard ANCAP crash test score, this MY18 model gets autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection as standard, plus there’s adaptive cruise, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. (The updated model has been awarded a three-star rating by Euro NCAP, but ANCAP has yet to reveal if it will issue an updated rating for the Australian model.)
The familiar Ford Sync 3 onboard software includes Emergency Assist, which automatically calls emergency services for faster response times in the event of a collision and feeds the call centre your GPS location. The 8.0-inch centre screen remains.
You can still buy 2.3-litre turbocharged ‘EcoBoost’ four, or 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ naturally aspirated V8, engine options.
The EcoBoost turbo appears to produce 9kW less that before, at 224kW. However, this is actually just down to a new measuring system being used. The MY17 and MY18 versions produce the same power on a dyno, Ford insists.
Torque increases by 9Nm to 441Nm. As before, a six-speed manual is available on the coupe, while both the coupe and convertible also come with a new 10-speed auto with paddles.
Meanwhile the more popular V8 that accounts for 85 per cent of sales has been “thoroughly reworked” says Ford, and offers 33kW more power and “the ability to rev higher than any Mustang GT before”.
The 339kW (about 450bhp in the old money) power ceiling has been achieved in part because of a new injection system: high-pressure direct injection, and low-pressure port injection. Torque also jumps 26Nm to 556Nm.
The V8’s manual gearbox has been “totally redesigned” according to Ford, with a twin-disc clutch and dual mass flywheel. The 10-speed automatic with paddles also features.
All versions get new shocks, plus a new cross-axis joint in the rear suspension gives what Ford claims to be increased lateral stiffness. There are also new stabiliser bars.
For the first time, MagneRide dampers are an option, costing $2750. Previously exclusive to the Mustang Shelby GT350, the system automatically (not manually) adjusts at each corner of the car up to 1000 times per second depending on road conditions and vehicle position.
An all-new active valve exhaust system is standard on all GT models, with a fully variable soundtrack to match the entire acceleration range. Four modes are available: Normal, Quiet, Track and Sport, tailoring the exhaust note.
There’s a lower, re-modelled bonnet and grille that delivers “a leaner look and refined aerodynamics”. There are also new upper and lower front grilles, and a new position for the bonnet air-intakes.
For the first time, the entire Mustang line up will feature all-LED front lights including signature tri-bar lighting. The rear of the car gets revised LED tail lights, plus a new bumper, fascia and optional performance spoiler. The V8 GT gets quad-tip exhausts and a black rear diffuser.
Mustang EcoBoost features a new alloy wheel design, plus has 19-inch Lustre Nickel alloys as a factory option. The GT carries over the mesh design from the current model, while also offering an optional five-spoke 19-inch forged alloy.
Colour choices include all-new signature Orange Fury as well as Kona Blue (questions, Hyundai?) and Royal Crimson – combined with Over the Top (OTT) stripe packages.
“The 2018 Mustang offers more factory-fit options than ever before, including a new single-wing rear spoiler (also part of the US-market Mustang Performance Pack),” Ford Australia claims.
“Most people have a Mustang memory, whether it be a favourite film moment, a childhood memory or, more recently, parking one in their own garage,” said Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman.
“The updated model offers customers a raft of new features for greater capability of Australia’s best-selling sports car, which has shown how much Mustang resonates with the Australian lifestyle.”
All prices exclude on-road costs