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Steeda Q500 Enforcer

Steeda Ford Mustang Q500 review: brawn in the USA

Steeda Q500 EnforcerSteeda has made America’s Fords go faster since 1988. Now, the Florida-based company has brought its modified Mustangs to the UK. Meet the Steeda Q500 Enforcer.

Its name may evoke Blade Runner or Robocop, but there’s nothing particularly futuristic about the Q500. This tuned Mustang is defiantly old-school, with a 5.0-litre V8 upfront, more torque than traction and an exhaust rumble to rouse the dead.

That all sounds very, very cool, particularly if – like me – you were raised on a diet of Bruce Springsteen records. “Well, the night’s busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere,” sang The Boss on Thunder Road. But does his American dream still work in suburban Surrey?

Steeda Q500 Enforcer

In dark Magnetic Grey on 20-inch rims, the Steeda reeks of subtle menace. Broad of shoulder and square of jaw, it looks every inch the modern muscle car.

Cosmetic changes are limited to a front splitter, illuminated sill kickplates, a duck tail spoiler and ‘STEEDA’ lettering across the tailgate. The Velgen alloys are another US import, filling-out the Mustang’s ample haunches and wearing Ferrari-specific Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.

The car rides on adjustable suspension with beefed-up anti-roll bars and a front strut brace. Its set-up was developed at Steeda’s test-track in Valdosta, Georgia, so the firm promises good handling despite that semi-slammed stance.

Video: Steeda Q500 Enforcer on the road

Under the bonnet, Ford’s venerable V8 is treated to a cold-air intake system, ECU tweaks and a freer-flowing exhaust. The net result is an extra 64hp and 94lb ft of torque, totalling 480hp and 485lb ft overall.

Steeda doesn’t publish performance figures, but I reckon you could knock half a second off the standard Mustang’s 4.8sec to 62mph.

If you buy one new, the Q500 starts at around £53,000 – £10,000 more than a Mustang GT. A more afforable Q350 model, based on the four-cylinder Ecoboost-engined Mustang, costs £6,000 for the conversion or roughly £44,000 for a complete car.

There’s also a flagship Q850 kit, offering 850 wild horses for £36,000 (or £80,000 all-in). More on that later…

Steeda Q500 Enforcer

Like a Hollywood blockbuster or a supersized Coke, the Mustang has always offered lots of muscle for your money. Choose a Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe with similar performance (and a soundtrack that’s almost as bombastic) and you’d be at least £13,000 lighter.

The Ford’s cabin is, however, where those cost-savings make themselves known. There’s nothing wrong with it as such, but the quality of plastics won’t keep Stuttgart awake at night and the touchscreen media system feels dated.

The wide, flat seats (designed for supersized Americans?) don’t offer much support either. I’d be tempted to fit the optional Ford Racing Recaros.

Steeda Q500 Enforcer

Steeda’s mods are minimal, but cover the main touch-points for the driver. There’s a lovely, smaller-diameter Alcantara steering wheel from the Mustang Shelby GT350R, plus a neat eight-ball gearknob.

Standard equipment on all Mustang V8s includes xenon headlights, electric seats, climate control air-con, DAB radio, cruise control and a reversing camera. Sat nav and parking sensors cost extra, as part of the Custom Pack.

It’s hard to don my road-test hat and write a reasoned review of the Steeda Q500. For starters, it’s hardly a rational car: nobody actually needs 480hp, and you can expect fuel economy in the low teens if you drive it hard.

More pertinently, though, every time I press the start button I find myself making an involuntary oooof noise and smirking like a schoolboy who’s just dodged detention.

Inhaling and exhaling through Steeda pipes, the Ford V8 is absurdly, magnificently epic.

Steeda Q500 Enforcer

At idle, it rumbles with the mighty intensity of shifting tectonic plates, while full-bore acceleration sounds like a WW2 bomber strafing the high street. Your neighbours may file for an ASBO, but anyone with a drop of petrol in their veins will be utterly besotted.

As you’d expect, the engine’s defining characteristic is torque. It’ll cruise comfortably at 30mph in fifth gear, and the long ratios of the six-speed manual ’box allow relaxed progress if you’re not in a ‘Steve McQueen’ sort of mood.

Put the hammer down and the Mustang feels properly quick, albeit not quite as head-spinning as its nigh-on-500hp output suggests. Blame the gearbox, perhaps, and a portly 1.7-tonne kerb weight.

Steeda Q500 Enforcer

With so little space under its wheelarches, the Q500’s ride is firm and fidgety around town. It soon smoothes out with speed, though, and the suspension can be adjusted for greater pliancy.

The additional roll stiffness means it turns in more eagerly than a regular Mustang V8, and, while it’s still no BMW M4 when it comes to poise or steering feedback, it feels like a machine you can grab by the scruff and enjoy without fear of the chassis biting back.

If you really want to upset your neighbours, you can, of course, use the Mustang’s standard Line-Lock function. This holds the front brakes, allowing you to spin the rear tyres up into a smokey burnout – a task the Q500 manages with hilarious ease. 

Steeda Q500 Enforcer

It wasn’t just Springsteen who eulogised the Mustang. From Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally to Vanilla Ice rollin’ in his five-point-oh, the Ford is an icon – as American as Oprah, corn dogs and NASCAR.

The Q500 Enforcer builds on the strengths of the Mustang V8 without ruining the basic recipe. It looks and sounds fabulous, but unlike some tuner cars we’ve tried, it isn’t too extreme for the road. The modifications feel well-resolved and worthwhile.

God knows, this car isn’t perfect. I’d be keen to dial a little more softness into the suspension – even if that means raising the ride height – and I do wonder if I could live with the sheer volume of that exhaust every day. But if muscle cars are your thing, and you want one that’s exciting, exclusive and right-hand-drive, the Q500 Enforcer is the real deal.

– POSTSCRIPT –

After this Mustang did the rounds of UK journalists, it returned to Steeda and was beefed up to Q750 Streetfighter spec. That means – you guessed it – 750bhp, or (760 metric horsepower), plus more exclusivity than any supercar: it’s the only one in Europe. 

The Streetfighter is now for sale via Philip Ireland Performance Cars for £49,995 – arguably good value for a fast Ford that outguns a McLaren 720S. Just remember to keep something back for replacement rear tyres. 

Still want more? The Q750 has since been superseded by the even-more-insane Q850 and, once the lockdown lifts, I’ll be pestering Steeda to drive one. Watch this space.

Thank you to Adrian Flux for insuring the Steeda Q500 Enforcer. 

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More Ford Mustang Bullitts coming to the UK

Mustang Bullitt production extended for 2020

The limited edition Bullitt Mustang is to live on into 2020 as Ford looks to take advantage of high demand. The full 2018 and 2019 quota filled quickly for the model. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Warner Brothers film, which starred Steve McQueen as Frank Bullitt alongside a Highland Green Ford Mustang.

The car reportedly sold out immediately after its 2018 launch, prompting another production run. If you missed out the first time, be quick, as the new run is on sale now from £48,210. Deliveries are expected to begin in the UK early next year.

As a reminder, the Bullitt Mustang benefits from a lung upgrade for its 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ V8 engine, courtesy of the high-performance Shelby GT350. The ‘Open Air Induction System, including the Shelby’s intake manifold and 87mm throttle bodies, helps the Bullitt to produce over 450hp.

Mustang Bullitt production extended for 2020

If you’re feeling a bit contrarian, you can actually option your Bullitt without the Highland Green paintwork that’s so evocative of Steve McQueen’s original San Francisco-skidding steed. Other choices are limited to just the one, though. How does Shadow Black sound?

Fewer than 200 Bullitt Mustangs were allocated to the UK; exactly how many this extended run will deliver remains to be seen but you can be sure there won’t be many. Get on the blower to your local Ford dealer, Frank.

Meet the 840hp Tesla-powered Mustang

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

Aviar Motors is combining classic muscle car style with electric eco-friendly performance. Its new R67 is an all-wheel-drive Mustang EV.

Where do we begin? It has two electric motors, one per axle, connected to a 100kwh battery – all very similar to those used in P100 Teslas.

That makes it 4WD and means this ultimate ‘restomod’ for the zero-emissions age will hit 62mph in 2.2 seconds and top out at 155mph. On top of that, it’ll travel 315 miles on a single charge. We don’t think even an original Shelby GT500 will manage that on a tank of fuel.

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

The car, yet to be built, will use an alloy chassis with carbon fibre bodywork to keep weight low – around one tonne, impressively. If you’re worried about an old legend getting sullied by electric power, don’t worry. These are all-new rather than based on an existing car.

The exterior is highly faithful to the original pony car’s design. There are, however, telltale signs that this is no traditional ‘60s muscle hero. An active rear spoiler is perfectly flush with the style of the original bodywork. Spot the Tesla door handles, too.

LED lights, chrome strip detailing and slimmer exterior mirrors are also added, along with bigger wheels and brakes.

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

Where you definitely suspect something’s up is on the inside. Gone is the traditional 1960s style, with a 17-inch screen adorning the centre console. There is a whiff of the original style with the double-hump dash, though, along with the circular vents. 

It comes with a lot more toys than a classic Mustang. Or, for that matter, any Mustang ever built. Expect a version of Tesla Autopilot, cameras, parking sensors, traction and stability control, climate control and voice control in the cabin. It’ll even get Bluetooth and wi-fi.

It really is the best of modern tech, infused with the best of classic style.

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

But what about V8 noise? Apparently, it’ll play a GT500 V8 rumble for passers-by, just so they know where it is. 

As for when you can buy one – all you can do is enquire at the moment. Aviar says there’s a six-month build time and that price will be on request. Here’s hoping it actually happens.

It might even help make Ford’s future plans to build a hybrid Mustang more acceptable… 

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Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford Mustang Bullitt 2018 review: V8 muscle, Hollywood cool

Ford Mustang BullittUntil last month, Ford’s famous pony car, the Mustang, had completely passed me by. I knew all about it, of course, and not just because I write about cars for a living. Anyone with an interest in matters automotive knows the Mustang is the definitive American muscle car. Launched way back in 1964, it offers shattering V8 performance at a ludicrously affordable price. Irresistible, you’d think, yet somehow I’d never had a proper drive in one.

That changed a month ago. For a two-week road trip around Ontario, I dug deep and rented a bright red Mustang GT V8 convertible. Big roads, wide open countryside, fabulous autumn weather: it could hardly have been better. I was starting to have second thoughts about the new European sports saloon I’d ordered for delivery two days after I got back to the UK.

Now back in Europe, MR has travelled to Nice to drive the Route Napoleon, in the latest, special edition Mustang Bullitt. It’s a homage to the car Steve McQueen drove in the movie of the same name. And a different beast to the car I fell in love with in Canada.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

The movie-tribute Mustang

Fifty years after Bullitt came out, can you still expect to milk the connection? Ford certainly thinks so. The Mustang Bullitt comes in Dark Highland Green, just like in the movie (although black is an alternative). Properly, there’s just a coupe version, and – for strict authenticity – only a manual gearbox is offered.

The Ford and Mustang logos have gone from the front, leaving a sinister black grille, just like the original. But there are no chrome bumpers full of dents, which is how the ’68 Mustang appears right from the very start of the film.

If all this sounds rather like a cosmetic enhancement, you’re right. There are some mechanical uplifts, but they are slight, and we’ll come to them in a minute.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

Minor modifications all add up

Back to the Bullittisation, we start to stretch the limits. There’s a faux petrol cap on the rear with a Bullitt logo, a white cue ball gear knob, some red brake calipers and a tweaked speedometer that records a higher top speed (even though the actual change is marginal).

The net result, though, is a Mustang that does stand out from the regular GT coupe. The mechanical changes, what there are, are designed to give the driver a more scintillating experience behind the wheel, rather than make an already very fast car even faster. So there’s a modified induction system readily apparent when you open the bonnet, the air filter is bright yellow and the plastic cover over the engine is removed – so you can see the V8 in all its glory.

This tweak is largely responsible for the 10hp uplift in power, to 460hp. Other changes are based around slightly different settings for the chassis, steering, ABS braking and stability control – all affected by tuning the electronic control module. Which leads us to the Active Exhaust System…

Ford Mustang Bullitt

The sounds of San Francisco

The exhaust offers a choice of four noise levels; apply the ‘Race’ setting and your 2018 Mustang will sound exactly like McQueen’s. While that’s anti-social on one level, get away from built-up areas and this is pure schoolboy fun. It bellows and pops along in a manner that can’t fail to delight, even before you approach any speed limits.

A total of 460hp is a handy amount to have under your right foot, and the Mustang Bullitt is prodigiously quick – even when the exhaust noise is dialled back (some hope). You can, of course, leave black rubber marks down the road, although not too often unless you have an unlimited budget for rear tyres.

For many drivers, we suspect, this will be enough. The triple whammy of high-impact visibility, a noisy V8 and stonking acceleration brings the benefits of a supercar costing four times as much. Yes, the Mustang Bullitt costs less than £50k, a veritable bargain for a car that will reach 163mph and 60mph in 4.6 seconds.

It also comes with a rather good 1000w B&O sound system, some very comfortable Recaro seats and a dashboard plaque with the unique build number of your Bullitt.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

On the Route Napoleon

There’s more, much more, though. Find the right road, like the Route Napoleon in southern France – an oft-deserted oasis of fast, open bends suddenly running into tortuous hairpins – and the Mustang can really surprise.

There’s the grip, loads of it, forcing you hard into the side of the seats. But there’s also a poise to the chassis and accuracy to the steering that makes the experience very involving.

Pick the Magneride suspension, a wholly desirable £1,600 option, and there’s a good compromise for every road surface. The fly in the ointment, arguably, is the manual gearshift. It’s heavy and it takes time to learn how to engage the meaty clutch smoothly.

On the upside, the Mustang comes with ‘rev-matching technology’, which automatically blips the throttle as you downshift – it sounds like you’ve achieved the perfect change every time.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

Selling for a £10k premium

The UK allocation of Bullitts has sold out for 2019, although they are already appearing in the classifieds for a £10k premium. Personally I’d rather wait until the next batch arrives, which may well have the ten-speed auto ’box as an easier-to-live-with option.

Alternatively, you could simply get a regular Mustang GT V8. Like my Canadian renter, it comes as a desirable convertible, too. And that’s quite a car in its own right.

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Drifting Mustang

This Ford Mustang just drifted the ENTIRE Nürburgring

Drifting Mustang

Drifting, love it or hate it, is a finely honed and balletic skill. It’s an impressive demonstration of car control wherever you see it.

And this is a drift well worth seeing: Vaughn Gittin Jr and Ford have just set the benchmark for the ultimate drift challenge – all 13 miles of the famous Nürburgring, smoking and sideways in his Mustang.

It’s the sort of thing a group of young lads would speculate about on the playground. “Reckon you could drift the whole Nürburgring?” one would speculate. “No way!” the others would respond.

It’s that unbelievable, but Vaughn Gittin has taken his 900hp supercharged RTR Mustang for the hairiest lap of the Green Hell ever.

Lairy enough that the lap had to be split into sections. Why? One set of tyres was never going to last a whole sideways lap of the ‘Ring. In the end, a full three sets were sacrificed.

“Drifting the Nürburgring represents the ultimate challenge to me,” said Gittin Jr.

“It is something that many question whether it would be possible and whether the car and driver could do it and come out in one piece.

“Something inside of me had to take this on to find out.” And how…

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Ford Mustang SUV

Opinion: Why we’re excited about the Ford Mustang’s electric SUV future

Ford Mustang SUV

“Mustang-inspired utility.” That’s how Darren Paler of Ford’s future-looking EV division, Ford Team Edison, describes what most simply call a Mustang SUV.

To many, the idea of a Mustang becoming a 4×4 is sacrilege of the highest order; it’ll be trampling all over nearly 60 years of pony car glory. Add to that the fact it’ll be electric and you can imagine the internet’s reaction. 

In short, the death of the enthusiast automobile is nigh and we, loyal enthusiasts, must watch as it’s slaughtered by the once-hallowed hands of the world’s mightiest motoring marques. Well, not quite…

2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid review: demolishing the case for diesel

Firstly, this Mustang-inspired utility business. Does the Mustang own its own design language? Not really. Did the 911 own every stroke of Porsche designers’ pens when they came up with the Cayenne? No, it didn’t.

Like the 911, the Mustang is but a (prominent) name in the history of its mother marque. It is the owned and Ford is the owner, just as 911 is the possessed and Porsche the possessor. What does all this mean? Simply that Ford and Porsche made them and short of inciting riots by replacing the sports car with an SUV in a sports car suit, they can and will build what they want. And these cars will sell. In truth, they probably could replace them, but they won’t.

Profits equal performance 

Revisiting the penultimate point there – people want to buy SUVs. The formula is tried and tested by this point. Not only with the Cayenne, but also Bentayga, Levante, Urus, F-Pace and many more. 

All trade on style tropes and badge kudos generated by what their parent marques are famed for. All put profits – or soon will – into making the brand-defining models better than they’ve ever been. A successful Cayenne makes for a healthy Porsche, which makes for some of the best 911s ever sold. Rinse and repeat for Aston Martin’s coming SUV, the Ford “Mustang-inspired utility” and beyond.

Lamborghini Urus

Also, electric SUV by purveyor of iconic sports cars – sound familiar? You’ll find an electric-only I-Pace parked up next to a 580hp supercharged F-Type in your local Jaguar dealer today. What’s wrong with a 300-mile capable Mustang-snouted SUV crossover next to a Mustang GT at Ford?

Make no mistake, the cars we’ve loved for over half a century are not the business-supporting totems they once were (if they ever were). The 911 that revs to 9,000rpm, some of the best Lamborghinis in the marque’s history, the best Bentley in a generation – all are gifts courtesy of their parent marque’s most generous best-sellers. So too will be future Mustangs. “Yours lovingly, Mustang-inspired utility”. 

What’s the moral of the story? The SUVs are inevitable, the EVs are inevitable, so too are the cars we know and love. They’ll never be the same, what they were, whatever. But they are here, and they’re better than they would ever be without their SUV cousins to bolster their development budgets.

We should be encouraging their existence, even buying them, if we want our favourite cars to flourish. And that includes the electric Mustang SUV.

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GWS Auctions

From Fast & Furious to Elvis – pop culture cars up for sale

GWS Auctions

A selection of vehicles from the worlds of music and Hollywood are up for sale with Los Angeles-based GWS Auctions. Everything from a mega-horsepower Dodge Charger to Elvis Presley’s Cadillac – motoring and pop culture collide in this eclectic lot list.

First of all, arguably the star of the show: Vin Diesel’s Dodge Charger from The Fast and the Furious. What looks like a 1970 car is actually a ’69 with a visual conversion. It’s powered by a 430hp V8 with a newly-rebuilt 727 automatic gearbox. Bidding starts at $10,000, though we don’t recommend you try a first Fast-style wheelie…

The star cars continue with a 2008 Mustang ‘KITT’ as featured in the Knight Rider television series of the same year. The auction house specifies it’s a Mustang GT, although it appears to wear the GT500 kit complete with special KR aero accoutrement.

The car is automatic due to the fact the actor couldn’t drive a manual. NBC certification and further KR-replica modifications make this a steal at a $5,000 starting bid. The special KITT wheel and scanner should be included in the sale.

At the other end of the star power spectrum are a few ex-Elvis Presley machines. These include a Cadillac Seville – the last car he bought before he died, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV Cartier and a dodgem car from Libertyland.

Add to that Rob Zombie’s 1976 GMC Motorhome and a fan-built Scooby Doo mystery machine and you have a broad slice of automotive culture. More info about the auction here.

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Ford Mustang 10 million

The Ford Mustang: 10 million sold and counting

Ford Mustang 10 million

It’s easy to be cynical about production milestones and automotive anniversaries, but whichever way you look at it, news of the 10-millionth Ford Mustang is a big deal.

Some context is required. The first Mustang rolled off the production line in 1964, two years before Toyota launched the Corolla. Oh, sure, the Corolla has shifted 45 million units and counting, but the purchase of the Toyota is driven by necessity rather than passion.

Buying a Ford Mustang is a lifestyle choice. Emotional desire rules rationalism – you buy a Mustang because you want one. Shifting 10 million units in 54 years is no mean feat, and speaks volumes about the car’s enduring appeal.

Give yourself a non-patronising pat on the back for a job well done.

Unsurprisingly, the Mustang is America’s best-selling sports car of the last 50 years and the world’s best-selling sports car for the past three consecutive years. Ford does the whole best-selling thing rather well: the F-Series pick-up is quite popular Stateside, while the Fiesta remains top dog in the UK.

Wimbledon, common

First meets 10 millionth Mustang

Paying homage to the first serialised Mustang of 1964, the 10-millionth car is a GT V8 six-speed manual convertible finished in Wimbledon White. The name might be the same, but the cars are very different: the first Mustang V8 offered 164hp, while today’s model develops 460hp.

Jim Farley, president of global markets for Ford – and no doubt feeling like a proud dad – said: “Mustang is the heart and soul of this company and a favourite around the world.

“I get the same thrill seeing a Mustang roll down a street in Detroit, London or Beijing that I felt when I bought my first car – a 1966 Mustang coupe that I drove across the country as a teenager. Mustang is a smile-maker in any language.”

The London reference is significant, as the first right-hand-drive models went on sale in 2016, with UK buyers falling head over heels in love with Ford’s slice of Americana. Some 7,000 have since been sold, with Ford asking £37,045 for the recently revised 2.3 EcoBoost, rising to £42,145 for the 5.0 V8 GT.

If you fancy a Dark Highland Green Bullitt Mustang, we bring bad news: the £47,545 special edition is sold out in the UK.

Bullitt McQueen Edition

Wild horses: Mustang Bullitt gains 500hp McQueen muscle

Bullitt McQueen Edition

If you’ve got yourself a new Ford Mustang Bullitt on order, Steeda can offer an injection of McQueen muscle to take it to the next level.

The Steeda McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang is that car, created in collaboration with Steve McQueen’s son, Chad, and his company, McQueen Racing LLC.

What is it?

True to its name, this is a modification package offered by Steeda exclusively for Bullitt Edition Mustangs, with a maximum of 300 cars available per year. It will also obviously be limited by the amount of Bullitts ordered from Ford.

Power (as standard) is around 500hp, with the cold air intake and tuning package boosting the standard 5.0-litre Coyote V8 engine.

A supercharger retrofit and half-shaft upgrade is available as an option, taking it up to 800hp. These, along with the overhauled suspension, short-shifter and more are carried over from other already-excellent Steeda-modified Mustangs.

Bullitt McQueen Edition

What’s exclusive to the McQueen?

As well as the Highland Green paint of most Bullitts, the Steeda car has HRE wheels with McQueen Edition centre caps, a decklid emblem and rear quarter window louvres.

The devil, however, is in the finer details, with bespoke light-up sill plates, a dash plaque, floor mats and engraved key fobs. Optional McQueen-exclusive parts include an Alcantara-clad wheel complete with green centre stripe and brake calipers finished in dark charcoal with green accents.

There is also ‘Special Buyer’s Thank You Package’ with even more pleasing trinketry – of which the engraved key fobs are a part. Joining them are a letter of authenticity, a Steve McQueen Edition poster and archival pigment print – both numbered and signed by Chad.

Steeda is confident the spirit of the original movie Mustang and of Steve himself is expressed to the fullest with this modification package, saying “We take things on as Steve himself would have wanted: understated, cool and with the focus firmly on enhancing performance”.

2018 Ford Mustang

2018 Ford Mustang first drive: there’s still nothing quite like it

2018 Ford Mustang

Ford says the Mustang is the best-selling sports car in the world, shifting 33,000 units and toppling Porsche in the process. But is it really a sports car?

Up until now, I’m not convinced. The current ’Stang looks cool and goes fast, but it’s always felt slightly out of its depth on European roads. Can the MY18 updates unleash the pony car’s inner racehorse? A long drive on France’s famous Route Napoleon will provide answers.

Here are the 10 things you need to know about the 2018 Ford Mustang.

There’s a new 10-speed automatic gearbox

2018 Ford Mustang

Drivers of the original 1965 Mustang settled for a three-speed Cruise-o-matic auto ’box. The latest car offers seven additional gears, with paddles behind the steering wheel for shifting manually.

Available with both V8 and four-cylinder Ecoboost engines, this isn’t a dual-clutch transmission, but it offers ‘direct downshifting’ – meaning it can shift up or down several ratios at once. It also improves the V8’s fuel economy, albeit by a measly half-a-mile per gallon.

On the road, the auto feels quick and intuitive, particularly in Sport mode. It isn’t a smooth as some rivals, but it’s perfectly up to the job. I still prefer the slick and snappy six-speed manual, though.

It looks sleeker and more European

2018 Ford Mustang

Ford waited five decades before bringing the Mustang to the UK, forcing Brits to make do with the Capri, Probe and Cougar until 2014. Now, this all-American icon has been facelifted, and it looks – dare we say it? – ever-so-slightly European.

There are sleeker, all-LED headlamps and tail lights, a reshaped front bumper and splitter, extra vents in the bonnet and an optional ducktail rear spoiler. The underbody aero has been tweaked, too (not that you can see it).

The overall effect is a little less muscle car, a little more curvaceous coupe. But if all that sounds too subtle and sophisticated, the new Orange Fury paint colour adds some good ol’ fashioned attitude.

The V8 has extra grunt – and more rumble

2018 Ford Mustang

Offered the keys to the Ecoboost or V8, we plump for the latter. Who wouldn’t? I challenge anyone with even a drop of petrol in their veins to fire up that five-point-oh without uttering an involuntary ‘ooof’. It sounds fantastic: a thudding rumble that swells to a deep-chested roar.

A new Active Valve Performance Exhaust adds even more noise if you want it (and you do). Simply select Race Track or Drag Strip modes and the tailpipe baffles open, cranking the volume up to 11. Alternatively, a ‘Good Neighbour’ mode allows you to muffle the thunder at pre-programmed times of day, for example when you leave for work each morning.

The latest V8 has a little more power (up to 450hp) and a higher rev limit. And this naturally-aspirated lump isn’t reluctant to rev. With 390lb ft of torque, you don’t need to work it hard – but there’s visceral pleasure to be found in doing so. Zero to 62mph takes 4.6 seconds in the manual coupe, and just 4.3 seconds with the 10-speed auto.

The EcoBoost version is better to drive

2018 Ford Mustang

The 2.3-litre Ecoboost is always going to feel a tad underwhelming after the V8. Especially when you discover it’s lost 27hp for 2018 (now 290hp) although the quoted 0-62mph time stays the same: 5.8 seconds for the manual, 5.5 seconds for the auto.

However, let’s not forget this same engine is already used to stonking effect in the Focus RS. And it weighs fully 90kg less than the V8, all of which is subtracted from the nose of the car. You feel that difference on the road – not least the Route Napoleon – through keener turn-in and better balance.

You’ll also appreciate the superior fuel economy of the four-pot, of course. The official figure is 31.4mpg for the manual coupe, versus 22.8mpg for the V8.

New MagneRide dampers are a must-have

2018 Ford Mustang

To prove the Mustang isn’t simply about straight-line speed, Ford has introduced Magneride dampers as a £1,600 option. Filled with a special fluid that reacts to electrical current, they can stiffen or soften according to the road conditions – adjusting up to 1,000 times a second.

In truth, they’re not the magic bullet that transforms the Mustang into a B-road hero. It’s still a wide, heavy car (up to 1,818kg for the V8 convertible) and it can’t defy physics. On these snaking switchbacks in the foothills of the Alps, a Fiesta ST would be more fun.

Nonetheless, this particular fast Ford is still engaging and exciting, and the Magneride dampers serve up a supple ride with added cornering control. I reckon they’re money well-spent.

Safety gets a much-needed boost

Ford Mustang

The elephant in the room at the Mustang launch was that Euro NCAP result. Last year, the car safety watchdog put the Mustang through its industry-standard crash test and it scored a woeful two stars out of five. Notable issues were a lack of driver assistance tech and poor protection for rear passengers.

The new car hasn’t been tested yet, but Ford is confident of a better result, saying “sophisticated technologies will contribute to an improved Euro NCAP rating”. Those technologies – fitted as standard – include active emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist (which nudges the steering to keep you between the white lines) and adaptive cruise control (maintains a set distance to the car in front).

The interior is still a mixed bag

2018 Ford Mustang

After that upmarket exterior makeover, the Mustang’s cabin remains a mild disappointment. Here, in budget switchgear and hard, shiny plastics, is where the gap to ‘premium’ rivals really shows. But then there’s also a hefty price-gap between, say, a £41,095 Mustang V8 and a £60,425 BMW M4, so a compromise must be made.

The chief upgrade for the interior is a new TFT digital instrument cluster instead of physical dials. It’s cluttered, but looks cool. Switch to Sport or Track modes and the rev counter becomes a horizontal bar that stretches across the top of the screen, while you can also choose from hundreds of colour combinations. After a much debate, my co-driver and I settled for fluoro-green and purple…

Drag Strip Mode… that is all

2018 Ford Mustang

Where the Mustang previously had four drive modes, it now has six – including the customisable My Mode. New for 2018 is Drag Strip mode, which optimises the car for quarter-mile performance “at dedicated drag racing strips” by using Launch Control and softening the rear Magneride dampers for maximum standing-start traction.

I tried it, to hilarious effect. And judging by the number of black rubber ‘elevens’ on the Route Napoleon, several of my colleagues did, too.

A Bullitt special edition arrives soon

Ford Mustang Bullitt

For true Mustang aficionados, the forthcoming Bullitt special edition is the one to have. Loosely based on the car driven by Steve McQueen in the 1968 film of the same name, it’s available in Dark Highland Green or Shadow Black.

The Bullitt’s V8 gets a mild power boost to 464hp, but it’s main appeal is cosmetic. As the star of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated car chases – out-running a Dodge Charger on the streets of San Francisco – it’s next-level cool.

There’s still nothing quite like it

2018 Ford Mustang

Americans can still buy a Dodge Charger, or indeed a Chevrolet Camaro. If you want an official, right-hand-drive muscle car in the UK, though, the Mustang is still your only option. You can draw comparisons with the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63, but such cars are altogether different. Think steak and chips versus a Michelin-starred meal.

The thing is, I really like steak and chips. And I really like the Mustang. It’s far from perfect – and it’s still not a sports car in the European sense – but the latest updates enhance its back-to-basics appeal. I’ll have a V8 coupe in Orange Fury with a manual ’box, please. Yeee-ha.

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