Australia loves the Mustang. It’s a fact. We’re the number one right-hand drive market in the world and only number two overall behind the US.
Thanks to its local success, Ford is finally acknowledging our love for the Pony, fitting our 2018 Mustang with a higher level of specification than its American counterpart and a significant increase in equipment and functionality over its predecessor.
The 5.0-litre Coyote V8 engine packs an increased 339kw of power and 556nm of torque, resulting in Ford’s fastest Mustang to date. Buyers have a choice of a 6-speed manual or new 10-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission capable of faster shift times. Plus the upgraded suspension package includes Brembo brakes, larger 19-inch alloy wheels and new Michelin tyres as standard.
Feedback suggested the previous model was too quiet for the Aussies who appreciate a loud V8, so the 2018 Mustang comes with Active Valve Exhaust as standard. It’s equipped with 4 modes: “Benign to brutal.”
“The feedback we received was that the sound didn’t match the emotion of the acceleration,” says Carl Widmann, Chief Engineer on the new Mustang. “With Active Exhaust, you can tailor the sound to suit your emotions.”
The Active Valve Exhaust modes are Quiet, Normal, Sport and Race Track. From the few hours we spent behind the wheel of Ford’s new Pony, we noticed a clear difference between each mode.
Ford flew Man of Many to Adelaide to experience the 2018 Mustang in all its glory. The day consisted of extensive road testing through the city and countryside and a brief track sprint around The Bend Motorsport Park. Carl Widmann was on hand to provide a detailed rundown of absolutely everything that went into the new vehicle.
Even at a glance, you will notice vast differences between the new Mustang and its predecessor.
“We focused on the concept of sleek. We lowered the hood and removed the power dome. There’s more of a subtle accentuation along the body lines. It’s sleek but still aggressive. The engineers had total liberty on the hood, fender etc. The Mustang has a whole new front from the doors forward. When you look at this car, you can say it’s different from the previous models. It reminds me of the ’67 Mustang.”
Other notable features include eagle-eye headlamps in the signature tri-bar configuration now fitted with LEDs as standard. The bonnet and grille are lower, delivering refined aerodynamics. There’s also a new position for the air-intakes. The rear of the car gets revised LED tail lamps plus a new bumper.
Inside are thicker, softer touch leather door toppers, plus updated aluminium applicators. Ford wanted the whole interior to offer a more premium look and feel over the previous model. The 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster is also a lot of fun. More on that later.
Carl went so far as to almost explain something I had wondered for a long time. That being how the team approaches the design of a new vehicle following the completion of the previous model.
“You have a car that everyone already loves, so what we’ll do is find what we call hardpoints. They’re the parts that have to stay. We have designers who have been with us for 5-7 years. Experienced but able bring new ideas to the car. Then we have the chiefs – people at my level, who know exactly what the key design cues need to be. The Fascia team, for example, there’s a generational thing. There’s always a lead engineer and apprentice. Then the next generation, the apprentice becomes the lead and gets their own apprentice who then brings new ideas.”
The all-new MyMode is some of the most fun you can have while sitting idle at the traffic lights. Press the Pony button on the steering wheel to customise the displays for Normal, Sport and Track modes and choose settings including colour and gauge layout. Same goes for the Active Exhaust. It’s possible to change exhaust settings while in motion, although Ford doesn’t reccomend it. It’s a road safety thing.
Why would anyone want a quiet Mustang you ask? The idea is you can start the vehicle quietly during those early mornings and late nights to stay on good terms with the neighbours. Come 7 am, it’s Sport or Race Track all-the-way. MyMode has a memory function to save the drive settings, suspension and steering preferences. And if for some reason the Mustang is not already loud enough, there’s also an upgraded 12 speaker audio system.
For a performance vehicle, we think the fuel economy is actually pretty good. The GT Fastback, for instance, Ford says it uses 12.6-13L per 100km while the EcoBoost uses just 8.5-9.3L.
“We used every available technology right off the bat to create a 5-litre with the most power possible while trying to improve fuel efficiency. It’s not a high desire for our customers, but our goal is always to push performance and fuel at the same time.”
The 2018 Mustang is offered in several new exterior colours including Orange Fury, Kona Blue and Royal Crimson for a total of 11 options. The over the top stripe package doesn’t come as standard but is a clear must-have.
Prices begin with the Mustang EcoBoost manual transmission at AUD $49,990 and scale up to the Mustang GT Convertible automatic at $74,709. You can find a lovely Fastback priced somewhere in the middle or go all-out with extras like a rear-wing spoiler, Recaro leather seats and MagneRide Suspension. The new Mustang is more expensive than the previous models although packs enough new features and performance upgrades as standard that Ford believes it’s worth every penny.
And if you were wondering what Carl Widmann, Chief Engineer on the Ford Mustang drives, he has a ‘65 Ford Thunderbird Convertible in the garage and an ’18 Convertible V8 Mustang in the driveway.
You can find the 2018 Ford Mustang in EcoBoost Fastback, GT Fastback and GT Convertible configurations in local dealerships come mid year. So, real soon. Plus the 2019 reboot of Steve McQueen’s classic BULLIT Mustang is greenlit for an October ’18 release.
For more on this iconic vehicle, be sure to check out Roush custom’s 2018 “Jackhammer” GT Mustang.