Hollywood star Steve McQueen put Ford’s Mustang on the map in his classic 1968 film Bullitt, featuring a nerve-tingling chase scene through the steep streets of San Francisco.
Launched just four years earlier, the Mustang is the epitome of the all-American muscle car. And I’ve just been behind the wheel of the latest incarnations — the GT Fastback coupe and convertible — and they’re a real scream! Rock ’n’ roll on four wheels.
The Mustang is also the world’s biggest-selling sports car. From £34,715 for the coupe and £39,815 for the cabriolet, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Updated classic: The Mustang is the epitome of the all-American muscle car
The new version looks like a smart contemporary take on the original classic. And it has a loud and growling soundtrack from its exhaust. People hear it before they see it.
It marks a mid-life upgrade on the 2015 Mustang; leaner, faster and more user-friendly, but still a gas-guzzling beast of a vehicle.
I first drove the range-topping 5.0- litre V8 convertible with an on-the- road price of £46,595. Linked to a slick ten-speed automatic gearbox, the mighty 450 brake horse-power engine propels it from rest to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a restricted top speed of 155mph.
It’s sure-footed and nimble on mountain roads and great fun to drive, especially in sport mode.
It has also boosted its EuroNCAP safety rating to three stars (from just two) after adding extra safety features. And there’s a highly responsive six-speed manual version.
The interior is functional, comfortable and does the job. But it’s thirsty — its average 22.59mpg drops to 14.4mpg around town — and CO2 emissions are a whopping 279g/km.
Legend: Hollywood icon Steve McQueen played policeman Frank Bullitt in the 1968 movie
Later this year, Ford is to sell an even more powerful, faster and expensive 480 bhp, 163mph special edition Mustang ‘Bullitt’ with the support of McQueen’s family.
For lovers of details that delight, the engine ‘start’ button pulses red – at a rate of 30 beats per minute to match the resting heart-rate of a pony – from the moment the door is unlocked until it is pressed to fire up the motor.
The Mustang has been immortalised in soul songs like ‘Mustang Sally’ – though some of the designs in the intervening years have been wanting, looking more Ford Sierra than seriously sexy. This new one hits the mark.
In the driving seat: You sense Ford bosses really have gone out of their way to produce an unashamedly red-blooded, loud and proud masculine, gas-guzzling beast of a muscle car
But this is not a politically correct car. You sense Ford bosses really have gone out of their way to produce an unashamedly red-blooded, loud and proud masculine, gas-guzzling beast of a muscle car for motorists who like their T-Bone steaks well grilled. No vegans here. But boy is it fun. And it really did make people spontaneously smile when they heard and saw it.
But the noise! It’s so loud, there’s even a diplomatic ‘good neighbour’ mode to tone it down when setting off early morning or arriving back late at night.
It has a meaty growl the moment you hit the accelerator and wonderful blips when you shift seamlessly down through the gears. It’s a real back to basics car that gives marvellous wind in the hair excitement. That’s also helped by a special magnetic liquid in the shock-absorbers to improve ride and handling. The same technology is used to enhance artificial limb joints for amputee skiers and snowboarders.
Spoiled for choice: The new Mustang has six standard driving modes, including ‘Drag Strip’
The new Mustang has six standard driving modes – two more than previously – which tweak the driving characteristics of the car. So Normal, Sport, Track, Snow/Wet, are joined by ‘Drag Strip Mode’ which gets you off to a flying start with maximum acceleration, and ‘My Mode’ which allows you to customise your own settings and exhaust sound.
Riding on 19 inch alloys, there there are 11 body colours to choose from including three new metallic shades called Orange Fury, Kona Blue and Royal Crimson, and plenty of scope for personalisation, including ‘go-faster’ stripes and an optional rear spoiler. The GT in black looks particularly sinister.
Inside, a 12-inch digital dashboard instrument cluster can be customised to suit. I also like the retro metal switches on the dashboard. But is anyone really going to sit in the two rear seats? Emergencies only I suspect.
Standing tall: Riding on 19 inch alloys, there there are 11 body colours to choose from including three new metallic shades called Orange Fury, Kona Blue and Royal Crimson
I also had fun in the hard-top GT Fastback 5.0 litre automatic which more closely mirrors the McQueen Mustang and costs £43,095 on the road and has a firm cossetted feel.
For everyday and more frugal driving, however, you might want the less powerful 2.3 litre EcoBoost versions of the Mustang – especially the convertible. Not a patch on the excitement of the mighty 5.0 litre beast, but a decent refined drive, reminiscent of an Audi.
On top of all of this, one of the original ‘Bullitt’ screen cars from the movie – where McQueen played policeman Frank Bullitt – is itself about to be restored. Now that would be worth having.
FORD MUSTANG – Will it fit in my garage?
On sale now: priced from £34,715
Model range: 5.0 litre V8 and 2.3 litre EcoBoost petrol in GT Fastback coupe and Convertible, 10-speed automatic and 6-speed manual
Length: 4,784mm Width: 1,916mm (2080mm with mirrors, 1956 with mirrors folded)
Acceleration 0-62mph: 4.5 seconds (Fastback 4.3 seconds)
Top Speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: Average: 22.6mpg Urban: 14.4mpg Cruising: 33.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 279g/km
Gears: 10-speed automatic with manual paddles Power: 450PS (Horse Power).
Tyres: 19 inch. Width: 9 inch front, 9.5 inch rear.
Wraps come off Lynk&Co’s new model
The Swedish-based Lynk&Co, which aims to ‘disrupt’ the traditional car market by selling its vehicles like ‘smartphones on wheels’, has taken the wraps off its third new model — the 02 compact crossover.
It joins a larger 01 SUV, plus a saloon called 03, and all will feature ‘green’ hybrid petrol-electric power.
Choices: The 02 compact crossover joins a larger 01 SUV, plus a saloon called 03, and all will feature ‘green’ hybrid petrol-electric power
Packages and car-share plans will be sold online and in boutique shops beginning in Amsterdam and followed by London, Barcelona, Berlin and Brussels.
Cars will be built in Ghent, Belgium, from next year alongside Volvo models such as the XC40.
- n Volvo’s XC60 off-roader has been named World Car of the Year 2018, with Britain’s Range Rover Velar picking up top honours for the best designed vehicle. The awards were unveiled at the New York Auto Show.
Fancy a self-driving electric Jaguar?
Jaguar Land Rover is to supply 20,000 of its all-electric I-PACE cars to U.S. self-driving car pioneers Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent firm Alphabet.
The aim is to create the ‘world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle’ and kick-start a ‘long-term strategic partnership’ with the U.S. giant.
Innovation: The aim is to create the ‘world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle’
In a deal worth about £1.3 billion announced at the New York Auto Show, the zero-emissions plug-in Jaguars, costing from £64,000 to £82,000, will be fitted with ‘production-ready self-driving technology’.
Up to a million test trips are planned annually. Coventry-based Jaguar Land Rover is itself already pioneering driverless car technology in Britain as part of the Government-backed UK Autodrive consortium.