Despite being a self-confessed hot hatch girl, my dream car has always been the Ford Mustang. Because I’m a go-getter who follows her dreams, I recently took one for a week-long spin around the southern parts of the UK.
Since the right-hand-drive version launched in the UK, I’ve been eager to get my hands on one of these but Ford’s press team was so inundated with requests for the delicious V8 that it was only the 2.3-litre turbo on offer to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a turbo but not in this muscle car. I held out for the V8.
Driving this car over 500-or-so miles made me realise that it might actually be the thing road trip dreams are made of. They say you should never meet your heroes or drive your dream car but in roaring around in that lairy Ford, I realised that, for this car, it’s not true.
I loved every moment spent in that car and while this article could be a love letter to Ford and its Mustang, I want to talk about the suitability for this car for a road trip.
It commands a certain presence on the road, not just from the noise it makes but from that muscular, sporty stature too. It turns heads as it burbles past and I had a queue at my door of family and friends who wanted a little drive out in it.
As well as chauffeuring people around Norwich, I also took the Mustang down to Brighton as part of a work-leisure adventure that also involved race cars and crazy golf. This is what I learned.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to get more than 20mpg from this car and when half a tank cost me more than £50, I was a little worried that my dream car would just be a money pit.
If I lived with this car, it probably would be. (But there’s a hybrid Mustang planned for 2020…)
But it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. With some sensible driving, I was able to achieve 30 mpg. I’ll take that. It’s not quite as economical as a small turbo engine or a more powerful diesel but it is a V8, so there’s that.
Of course, you’re not always going to drive this beast sensibly but when you’re listening to the roar of that engine and doing a small, safe drift around a roundabout, who cares, right?
With electronic adjustments for every aspect of the seat, it took me some time to find the perfect position but once I was set up, I was ready for some long stints on the road.
It’s one of those cars that seems a little raw and lairy when you put your foot down but if you’re cruising, you could easily be in a Mondeo or some other ‘normal’ Ford that doesn’t twitch when you accelerate hard.
The model I drove came with the optional extra of adaptive suspension, which will set you back an extra £1600 on the base price of £48,000. I don’t know what the Mustang is like without it but I enjoyed the ride thoroughly. It was stiff when I needed it to be but a little more forgiving when I was cruising along.
You will never get bored of this car. I’m going to dream of that sound and acceleration for a long time.
There’s a rawness to the Mustang that you expect from a muscle car but it’s surprisingly light on its feet when you want it to be. It turns delightfully and power goes down easily.
I drove an automatic version and while that’s hardly ideal, I did enjoy the paddle shift gears as I threw it around some country lanes. I imagine the proper manual version is much more fun with better control over when you change up or down.
While the automatic gearbox in the Mustang was good, it didn’t change gear like I did, which was often frustrating. However, it was nice to let the car do the hard work on the long road to Brighton.
This is a big car. It’s long and it’s wide but not necessarily much wider or longer or wider than some other cars on our roads. I had no problem driving it in crowded cities, narrow country lanes or through tiny villages.
I did struggle a little when I decided to take it into the multi-storey car park at Brighton Marina. That got me thinking about how impractical I thought the imported left-hand-drive version would be before the UK got its own model. Turns out, that if I owned one of these LHD cars, I wouldn’t have to endure the awkward leaning over the passenger side to get a multi-storey car park ticket anyway, because I wouldn’t take it in one.
I’m not saying it’s not appropriate for a multi-storey car park but it’s a slightly stressful experience and I felt I was reversing to straighten up as much as I was driving forwards… The engine note did sound good in there though.
It’s likely that if you’re reading this article, you’re interested in how good a car looks. It’s important, especially if you’re part of the Instagram generation.
I think the new Ford Mustang is one of the best looking cars out there. Even dull interior shots of me driving look epic.
The interior is well put together with brushed metal and leather on the dashboard, switches that make you feel like you’re in a spaceship and a nice, large touchscreen. The crowning glory on these lovely details has to be the ability to change the colour of the lights in the cabin. If you want your cup holders to glow pink, no problem.
The car will also shine a little horse on the floor outside when you step out or unlock it. Completely unnecessary but I dig it.
There’s a reason the Mustang is so eagerly rented by travellers looking to tackle Route 66. It’s an iconic muscle car and whether you want to zoom around Europe or take on an iconic American road trip, it’s a great choice.
I would absolutely take a Mustang on a road trip again and would encourage everyone to explore new places under this kind of V8 power.
Jess Shanahan is a road trip journalist and motorsport consultant who loves high heels, V8s and the open road. You can find her on Twitter @Jetlbomb.