One of the most popular badges in automobile history, the Ford Mustang, is officially available in India now. For 52 years, since it was first introduced on April 17, 1964, the Mustang has remained one of the most affordable and iconic classic American muscle cars. And in that, the Mustang has continued to be one of Ford's greatest success stories globally. Albeit short, we got a first-hand feel of the Ford Mustang at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida recently. Were we impressed? Here's our take on the car.
Despite the global appeal of the Mustang, Ford stayed away from developing a right-hand-drive (RHD) variant of the car until the current sixth-generation. In August last year, the United Kingdom became the first market to receive RHD Mustangs, and it was only a matter of time for the vehicle to come to similar RHD markets, such as India. Incidentally, the vehicle also became the world's best-selling sports coupe in 2015, selling 110,000 units world over, as per IHS Automotive. Since its launch, Ford has sold over 9.2 mn units of the Mustang.
Last year, Ford India had announced its intention to bring the Mustang to India, and followed that up with a showcase of the famed 'pony' car at the New Delhi Auto Show in February, earlier this year. While the excitement among enthusiasts is evident, for Ford, the Mustang is all about enhancing the company's image in the country, with a hope that it would lead customers to its showrooms, and eventually help push its products in the mass market segments.
We don't have the exact numbers, but Ford India executives have confirmed the vehicle has been received "extremely well" by Indian consumers. That, however, is a story we shall bring to you later. Let's get talking about the drive first. Five laps across the 5.13 km-long track was never going to be enough for us to test and check every bit of details on the car, and bring you a thorough review, but the experience was long enough to get you an impression about its traits and behaviour.
At 4.8 m in length and almost two metre in width, the Mustang is a large car. That is about 1.5 inch wider and 1.4 inch lower than the earlier generation car. The roof height has been lowered, and at the front, the trapezoidal grille has grown bigger in proportion. The design therein gels beautifully with the vertically stacked daytime LED lights and projector headlamps. At the rear, there are new 3D, tri-bar tail lamps. The long sculpted bonnet and the short rear deck has been retained, but have been given contemporary treatment. Yet, there is no way the Mustang loses its familiar, raw appeal of the past. If at all, the changes add to the car's aura and persona.
Over 60 % of the vehicle's length is occupied by the long hood, and the front seats inside the cabin, leaving enough space at the rear for two adults to squeeze in. But that shouldn't bother owners, for this car would rarely be used for long, relaxed family weekend getaways. To be fair though, we didn't sneak into the rear seats to have an actual feel of their size and space. The front seats, however, have the best of comfort and support built in. The front seats can be power-adjusted six ways, and are ventilated with heat and cool functions.
Ford engineers have given the Mustang cabin a pleasing, modern feel. The driver is well positioned to reach out to all controls on the dashboard with equal ease. In fact, the cockpit is a busy place, with several tactile switches and knobs running across the breadth of the dashboard unit. There's a mix of components made of metal, leather and plastics. Talking of materials, we felt the Mustang deserved better quality plastics in the dash area, especially on the glove compartment.
UNDER THE HOOD
Under the hood is a 5 l naturally-aspirated V8 engine, with upgraded valvetrain and cylinder heads. Ford has got the most powerful engine in the new Mustang range to India, which delivers peak power of 395 hp, and 515 Nm of torque. And we think that's a good strategy to draw in potential customers. All that power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
To deliver on the demands of better fuel economy, idle stability and emissions, Ford has introduced a new intake manifold into the engine that breathes better in low speeds. Some critical changes that have been brought into the engine include larger intake and exhaust valves, revised intake and exhaust camshafts, lighter sinter-forged connecting rods that are more durable for high-rpm operations, stiffer valve springs that ensure valves close completely at higher engine revs. Also, piston tops have been redesigned with deeper cut-outs.
Like all powerful sports cars, we expected the Mustang to sound great. But it isn't the most powerful V8 we have in the country, and the sound it produced didn't disappoint. Barring a minimal delay in power to start with, the Mustang has a well-refined engine that pulls well from about 4,000 rpm until about the 6,500 – 7,000 rpm limit. We managed an odo-indicated 220 km/h top speed, but on the fourth and fifth laps, the engine started to seem lethargic, leading to frequent loss of breath.
The Mustang offers four driving modes you can select from – Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow/Wet, of which we tried only two modes – Sport+ and Track. These settings essentially adjust the car's throttle, steering and stability control. We found the auto gearbox somewhat sluggish, and even the paddle shifters weren't energetic. Moving in and out of corners, we experienced negligible body roll. The power delivery was smooth, aided essentially by a limited-slip differential.
Ford has introduced an all-new integral-link independent rear suspension on the Mustang, and that improves road dynamics significantly. Ride and handling is also claimed to have improved thanks to the new aluminium rear knuckles that reduce unsprung mass. A lot of modification and tuning has also been made to the geometry, springs, dampers and bushings, claimed Ford. The front structure has been stiffened by the use of a new perimeter sub-frame, which also helps in light-weighting.
As one would expect in a vehicle of this stature, the Mustang has most of the everyday car comforts on offer, including automatic high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, DRLs, tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), navigation, reversing camera, MyKey and SYNC 2 voice control connectivity system with an eight-inch colour touch screen, among others. For the driver and passenger in the front, there are ventilated seats with part electric adjustment. There is also an electronic line-lock, which essentially locks the front brakes and releases the rears to help a willing enthusiast spin and heat up the rear tyres before he/ she launches the car.
Safety gets a lot of prominence on the Mustang. There are eight airbags on offers, and has additional crash sensors located on the front, sides and centre of the vehicle to control the deployment of airbags and safety belt pre-tensioners. These are all part of Ford's all-new inflatable airbag restraint design. Ford has also offered the Securilock passive anti-theft system with perimeter alarm on the Mustang.
The company has decided to sell the Mustang initially in Delhi and Mumbai only, with prices starting at ' 65 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi. That's nowhere affordable, as I mentioned earlier in this report. But one must remember the Mustang would be imported as a CBU from its Flat Rock assembly plant in the US, and that attracts a hefty import duty rate in the country.
At the track, Anurag Mehrotra, Executive Director, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford India reminded us of the beautiful story about the Mustang's logo. History has it that Phil Clark, the original designer of the logo, was left handed and therefore drew the logo in a way that seemed natural to him. The more fascinating story, however, is that unlike trained racehorses, the galloping horse is shown running the opposite way to depict its wild character, and that represents the free spirit of the car and its customers. Now, if that sounds like you, there isn't another car in India as iconic as the Mustang.
Text: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay