What Car? says...
The acceptance of the Ford Mustang in the UK is another example of how US culture has crossed the Atlantic – along with Hollywood movies and Black Friday shopping.
You see, the Mustang coupé follows a typically American engineering formula: a huge V8 engine, rear-wheel drive and styling that shouts: “Don’t mess with me!”
Even the entry-level model serves up 443bhp, so there’s plenty of muscle for your buck. The Mach 1 version develops an extra 10bhp, and both make a suitably glorious rumble. It's a very different car to the latest Ford to wear the Mustang badge – the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Neither of the two trim levels – GT and Mach 1 – struggles for standard equipment, but the Mach 1 is said to focus more on track performance and aerodynamics. There's also a soft-top version – see our Ford Mustang Convertible review to read about that.
While nothing channels good old-fashioned muscle car menace like a Mustang, it does have quite a few rivals, such as the BMW M4, the Lexus RC F and the Toyota Supra. So, how does the Ford Mustang compare? Let's find out.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Whether you opt for the 443bhp GT version or the 453bhp Mach 1, the Ford Mustang's 5.0-litre V8 engine feels mighty. It has lots of muscle for bumbling around effortlessly at low revs, but needs to be worked hard to get the best out of it.
How hard? Let’s just say it does its best work beyond 3500rpm and hits it peak output at a heady 7000rpm. When exercised, it makes a thunderous noise and rewards a keen driver with the kind of rabid performance that feels appropriate for a car with this kind of presence on the road.
You're rewarded with strong acceleration: the GT version officially manages 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds with a manual gearbox and 4.6 seconds with an automatic.
If you enjoy a delicate driving experience, then, the Mustang is not the coupé for you. The six-speed manual gearbox, which has a short throw and a meaty mechanical feel, brings an added layer of engagement missing from the automatic-only M4 and RC F.
The Mustang’s pedals are relatively heavy to operate, so crawling along in stop-start traffic isn’t exactly relaxing.
You can have an optional 10-speed automatic gearbox but it's not as slick as rivals’. It often flicks through multiple gears in one go, and has a habit of switching ratios indecisively, before lurching into gear when it finally makes up its mind.
There are steering wheel-mounted paddles so you can take full control, but you’ll have far more fun taking this beast by the scruff of the neck on winding roads if you opt for the manual (although the auto does improve fuel economy).
The steering is slower than that of its rivals, and requires more muscle to turn the wheel. The flip side is that there’s plenty of feel through the steering wheel, and you're well aware of what the front tyres are doing.
The GT version has non-adjustable suspension as standard, and it strikes a reasonable balance between ride comfort and body control. The range-topping Mach 1 gets MagneRide adjustable suspension, which varies its firmness according to your choice of driving mode.
In the sportier, firmer suspension modes, the Mustang keeps tight control of its body movements when you brake, turn and accelerate – no mean feat when even the lightest model weighs more than 1800kg.
The softest Comfort setting brings a reasonably smooth ride, although potholes and other large road irregularities can unsettle the car and thump through into the interior.
Every version has selectable driving modes so you can set the responses of the car's steering, accelerator, traction control and, if you have one, automatic gearbox. There's Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow/Wet, and Drag Strip. You can also choose your own combination of settings, including how much noise you want from the Active Valve Exhaust.
The V8’s grumble fades into the background at higher speeds, especially when you set the exhaust to quiet mode. There’s a bit more wind and road noise than in most rivals, but not so much that it’ll make a long journey noisy and exhausting.
Ford Mustang driving overview
Strengths V8 engine sounds superb; Brembo brakes on Mach 1 are strong and feelsome; brilliant manual gearbox
Weaknesses On the limit handling in the standard GT is a little wayward
The interior layout, fit and finish
The driving position in the Ford Mustang is relatively comfortable for the most part, even for tall drivers. The driver’s seat has lots of electrically-powered adjustment, including for lumbar support, while the steering wheel has a wide range of movement.
The standard seats come with leather upholstery and plenty of lateral support. The optional Recaro seats hug you tightly, but have less padding, so they might leave some people a little stiff after a longer journey.
Your view out of the car, especially over the shoulder, is hampered by the sloping roofline and big rear pillars, and the Mustang’s bulky proportions make it hard to judge where the end of the bonnet is. Helpfully, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors are standard.
Inside, the Mustang’s retro character gives it a very different ambience from its plush but predictable premium coupé rivals. While the look is charming, the plastic surfaces, buttons and switches feel cheaper than you'll find in the German competition. The toggle switches for changing driving modes or operating the hazard warning lights, for example, feel sticky and could be better damped.
The standard 12.0in digital instrument cluster is more impressive, with sharp graphics and a choice of layouts. They range from simulated analogue dials to simplified Sport+ and Track Mode displays, which show the rev counter as a horizontal bar with lights that flash when it’s time to change up.
Unfortunately, the smart instrument cluster contrasts sharply with the Mustang’s unimpressive Sync 3 infotainment system. The 8.0in touchscreen has big icons and is fairly responsive, but looks pretty basic.
The B&O premium sound system – which is standard on the Mach 1 and a reasonably priced option on the GT – is worth having. It's far more powerful than the premium sound system options for the BMW M4.
Ford Mustang interior overview
Strengths Lots of physical buttons; simple infotainment; comfortable seats
Weaknesses Cheap interior materials; you sit a little too high
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There's masses of space up front in the Ford Mustang, but despite its size, the two rear seats offer extremely limited space. Children and smaller adults will fit, but most people will find their knees brushing the seat backs.
There's a bit more head room than in the back of the BMW M4 though, and the Mustang’s long doors provide easy access. That said, the Audi RS5 is considerably more comfortable.
Officially, the Mustang has a bigger boot than you get in its immediate coupé rivals, and you can fold down the rear seats when you need to carry longer items. However, the narrow opening and high load lip make it difficult to load bulky items.
Ford gives you Isofix mounts in the back, so you can securely fit two child seats.
Ford Mustang practicality overview
Strengths Loads of interior space up front; plenty of storage
Weaknesses Rear seats are cramped; high load lip to boot
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Mustang isn't what you'd call cheap, but no other new car gives you the same straight-line performance for the price. The BMW M240i is its closest rival for outright performance and even that doesn’t give you a V8. If you want one of those, you’ll be looking at the somewhat outdated Lexus RC F.
The Mustang doesn’t scrimp on standard equipment, either. Every version has keyless entry and start, 19in alloy wheels, electrically adjustable seats, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. You can personalise your car with bonnet-to-boot stripes or a black roof.
The Mach 1 version is more distinctive outside, with its smattering of special badges and external body features that aim to improve aerodynamics. It also adds MagneRide adaptive suspension, the upgraded 12 speaker sound system, LED headlights and better brakes.
As you might expect from a V8 muscle car, the Mustang's running costs are high, and you'll spend a lot on tyres and fuel. Officially, the most you’ll get is 34mpg, but it's likely to be a lot less in the real world.
Insurance costs will be a shock to the system too, and with official CO2 emissions of up to 284g/km, it’s no surprise that the Mustang is in the top bracket for benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax so it's expensive to run as a company car.
The Mustang didn’t feature in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Ford as a brand came a middling joint 17th out of the 32 manufacturers featured. That's lower than BMW and Toyota, but higher than Audi and Mercedes.
A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is standard, and UK and European roadside assistance with unlimited mileage is included for the first year. The warranty can be extended to five years at a reasonable cost.
Automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance are standard, but the model scored a lowly three stars in Euro NCAP safety tests in 2017. It performed very poorly for child-occupant protection in front and side impacts, with a score of just 32% in that category.
Ford Mustang costs overview
Strengths GT looks good value; lots of standard kit; slow depreciation
Weaknesses Mach 1 is quite a bit more expensive than the standard car; V8 isn’t the most economical
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|RRP price range||£50,315 - £62,315|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||22.8 - 25.2|
|Available doors options||2|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£3,526 / £4,414|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£7,053 / £8,829|