Driving a Mustang is a dream that many South Africans hoped they could finally fulfil when Ford launched its iconic muscle car here in 2016, ending decades of deprivation. This week, I finally got to tick off “drive a Ford Mustang” from my bucket list. And as a proud Mosotho, ‘riding the pony’ also fulfilled an important rite of passage that has since been commercialised through the sport of horse racing.
So, how does it feel to drive the Mustang? It’s flipping awesome!
Priced at R728,500 for the more ‘affordable’ 2.3 litre EcoBoost manual, generating 233kW and 430 NM of torque, and just under R1-million for the range topping V8 cabriolet with an auto ‘box, producing 306kW and 530 NM of torque, the Mustang is really good value for money, especially when you consider that hot hatches like the VW Golf R and Honda Civic Type R are priced around the R670,000 mark.
But despite this, the Mustang is still somewhat of a rarity in Mzansi. You are more likely to stop next to a Mercedes Benz C-Class cabriolet at the robots, despite the fact that it costs significantly more than the Mustang.
But when you buy such cars, price doesn’t matter too much. It’s the wow factor that you are looking for, and very few cars are as eye catching and head turning as a Mustang cabriolet, like the one I got to sample for a few days. On my daily commute around Johannesburg’s packed highways and byways, I had more eyes on me than Mississippi. In fact, at one point when I was parked at a shopping mall, I came back to find the car surrounded by admiring fans, young and old, who were delighted at the opportunity to pose for pics in the car. That’s the beauty of the Mustang that you can’t find in anything else around this price point.
The downside is that every Tom, Sanjay and Jabu will want to race you when they see you at the robots or cruising on the freeway. Thankfully the Mustang is no slouch, and even the tamer 2.3 litre EcoBoost can sprint from 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds. That’s enough to quickly put any boy racer in their place.
Inside, the Mustang is every bit as macho as it is outside. The retro-style switches beneath the 8” touchscreen for the infotainment system really look the part and remind you that you are driving a classic American muscle car. The bucket seats are figure-hugging and placed low in the car, giving you a feeling that you are one with the vehicle, and the road. The steering is slightly on the heavy side, which might be more appealing for men than women. The same can be said for the rather firm sports suspension. The 5.0 GT model adds that exhaust note that makes petrol heads giggle with pleasure. My 2.3L test unit, however, was not so vocally well-endowed. But pushing the start button to fire up the engine still produces enough of a growl to remind you that this is no ordinary 2.3 litre turbo petrol. It’s a Mustang.
Cosmetic touches like the ambient cabin lighting, illuminated Mustang scuff plates and galloping stallion approach lights make the already beautiful Mustang even easier on the eye.
The seven amplified speakers for the stereo system are loud enough to ensure that those who might elect not to look at you cannot avoid hearing you.
The Mustang is a premium product, so it comes standard with all that one would expect in terms of tech, driver comfort and safety. What surprised me though was the availability of ISOFIX anchor points in the rear seats for securing kid’s car seats. So, I tested the practicality of this feature by hooking up two child car seats for my wingmen. This quickly turned the cabin into an uncomfortably cramped quarters. The boys still thoroughly enjoyed the open top drive, though.
Before I bore you with more details of how much I enjoyed the Mustang, I’ll sum it up this way: If you like the limelight and thrive on being the star of the show wherever you go, the Mustang is for you. If you are looking for a family car, the Mustang, with its ISOFIX hooks, is for you. If you have a constant itch to go faster, then the Mustang is definitely for you. It’s that much of a great car.
It’s going to be a sad day when I to return the one I have at the end of my review period. Returning to my regular guy car is going to be like Cinderella’s coach when it turned back into a pumpkin. Perhaps if I leave a sandal in the car the guys at Ford will search the whole country to return my saddle and the Mustang. I’d definitely live happily ever after if that happened.