If you’re expecting a delicate driving experience, then this is not the car for you. In keeping with the brawny image, the Mustang's steering requires a bit more muscle and is a tad slower than the likes of the BMW M240i or Audi TT S. You can vary its weight using various drive modes, but steering always feels heavier than European rivals'.
Although it doesn’t turn in quite as sharply as the M240i or TT S on account of its weight, the Mustang has lots of front-end bite and does a good job of telegraphing what the front tyres are doing through the steering wheel. While you can get the front end slipping wide if you enter a corner too quickly, there’s more chance of the rear sliding if you’re too greedy with power on corner exit, especially if it’s wet. Still, this is more fun than frightening.
With the optional MagneRide adjustable suspension, the Mustang controls body movements well as you brake, turn and accelerate – this is no mean feat considering even the lightest model is nearly 1700kg. The Mustang even rides reasonably well for a car of this type – especially so if you leave the dampers in Comfort mode. However, on our badly surfaced UK roads, it always feels a bit lively, and potholes and other large road irregularities can thump through into the interior. The standard non-adjustable suspension isn’t quite as impressive, but it still strikes a reasonable balance between ride comfort and body control.
The entry-level 2.3-litre turbocharged Ecoboost engine is very flexible, pulling hard from around 1500rpm and doesn’t tail off until you hit 5500rpm, making it feel effortlessly quick. The 5.0-litre V8 feels even mightier, but you have to be prepared to work it far harder before it feels its full 444bhp. How much harder? Let’s just say it does its best work beyond 3500rpm and hits its peak output at a heady 7000rpm.
That said, we still prefer the V8. It makes a thunderous noise and (eventually) has the rabid performance that feels appropriate for a car with this kind of presence on the road. Not only is it a joy to work hard, the standard six-speed manual gearbox (which is also in the 2.3-litre model) is slick and has a meaty, mechanical feeling that’s totally in keeping with the Mustang’s character.
The optional 10-speed automatic 'box is rather snappy and can flick through multiple gears in one go. An occasional habit of switching between ratios indecisively is the only slight annoyance. Happily, steering wheel-mounted paddles allow you to take full control when you want to. Instead of feeling like the manual’s poor cousin, it’s just as recommendable and even improves the fuel economy of the V8.
There is a bit more wind and road noise than in most rivals, but engine noise does fade into the background at higher speeds, mostly thanks to a long top gear, which will also keep revs right down (on the V8, at least) when you’re on a motorway cruise.