THE badge on the dash says 55 years, but the machine, the 2020 Ford Mustang GT, shows no signs of middle age, save for the fact it wears the galloping horse emblem of its esteemed forbears, and its shape mimics that of those that came before it.
It was clear from the moment we picked up this V8-powered beast that we weren’t going to lose it in the car park, with our ‘Stang coated in the almost hi-vis workwear colour of Grabber Lime. Mind you, Pony cars stand out already.
The Mustang, which accounts for 44 per cent of the sub-$80k sports car market in sales, is Australia’s most popular sports coupe, and given the pricing, and the performance that buys, it is little wonder.
It seems a little strange to be talking about value in a car with a price tag starting at $64,190 for the basic 5.0-litre V8 GT Fastback, but hell, that makes the Mustang significantly cheaper than Toyota’s impressive BMW-based Supra.
It’s also much cheaper than BMW’s M2 or the Lexus RC 350 F Sport, and in terms of grunt the Mustang wins hands down. We should tell you though that our test vehicle wasn’t a stock basic GT either.
Instead it was loaded up with Recaro leather seats, the MagnaRide suspension package, and along with its iconic colour, a black shadow pack. All up that saw it valued at $71,590 plus on roads. Still exceptional value.
Then of course there’s that snarling V8 sitting under the bulging bonnet. The Ford Coyote engine is good for 339kW and a massive 556Nm of torque. It’s a good old fuel injected, naturally aspirated, bent eight that doesn’t need a turbo or supercharger.
That power plant is good enough to propel the Mustang GT from standing start to 100km/h in around 4.5 seconds, which not so long ago was in the realm of super cars from Ferrari and Lamborghini, and at a huge price premium.
Part of the key behind that acceleration ability is the impressive 10-speed paddle shift auto that changes gears so smoothly and positively that it quite literally slingshots the car away from rest.
A multi-mode performance program features a drag strip option that also helps the car achieve that time. We very much doubt, and would challenge anyone, to achieve a time like that using the 6-speed manual version, such is the 10-speed’s capability.
The performance is all the more creditable given the car weighs in at 1740kg and is no lightweight, but it sits on the road nicely and with the MagnaRide suspension, it really does handle well.
Underneath the Mustang are superb 19-inch alloy rims, which are 9-inches wide on the front and 9.5-inches on the rear, where the big boots are needed to put the power to the ground and keep the rear-wheel drive’s traction intact.
The rear-wheel drive Mustang has tremendous horsepower and torque, capable of a top speed of 260km/h, which means it’s fairly easy to feed in too much throttle and find the rear wheels spinning, and traction severely broken.
Not so likely in Normal mode where traction control and the stability program are in full effect, but throw it in Sport or Race mode, and hang on, because you could be in for an exciting ride.
With that much power, the Mustang does need to be treated with caution, and it can bite if you’re not really focused and on top of things. But in most cases, this is a glorious car to drive. It’s feisty, fast and at times brutal, but extremely rewarding.
And while you probably wouldn’t buy the Mustang to win the fuel economy derby, its thirst is not as great as you might imagine. According to Ford the big V8 is good for an average of 12.7-litres/100km. Our real world average was 13.6-litres/100km.
The overall quality of the Mustang is a huge improvement over the car that was reborn down under in 2015 too. And while it’s hard to hide that growling audio soundtrack from the V8, it is plenty quiet for freeway cruising at the speed limit.
While it is a 2+2, the Mustang’s rear seats are best for children, extremely small adults or as a resting place for soft parcels and jackets. It is hard to get into and out of the back seat, and is really not great for four adult passengers for any length of time.
Storage around the cabin is plentiful, if not overly large; with a small console in the armrest, some door pockets and a fairly compact glove box, as well as a couple of oversize cup holders in the centre console.
The driver’s seat has a good range of adjustability, while the steering wheel is be shifted up and down as well as in and out, so it’s easy to achieve a really good and comfortable driving position.
Although the passenger compartment is kinda cosy, the same can’t be said of the boot are, which can easily swallow a whole pile of luggage, with a 408-litre capacity that can easily accommodate a couple of sets of golf clubs or some decent size suitcases.
When it comes to other creature comfort there is a superb 12-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system, controlled from a big, easy to read and use 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, incorporating Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation.
In the driver’s cockpit, there is a big digital dash which can be configured to suit your preferences. There’s a lot of fruit as standard on the ‘Stang, including full LED head and parking lights, rain-sensing wipers, and heated and power folding side rear view mirrors.
There’s also illuminated scuff plates, and our personal favourite, the pony shaped down lights (or puddle lamps, if you prefer). You also get the key-less entry and a push button start, and LED ambient interior lighting.
The Mustang is much more than the sum of its parts. It pays just enough homage to its ancestors from 1965, without being twee and overdone. From that galloping horse badge proudly worn across the grille to the long stylish bonnet, there is nothing to dislike.
On the road, the steering is sharp and precise, without being over assisted. It laps up corners, darting and weaving with precision and nimbleness. Thanks to the roar of the V8, it’s an exciting journey for all of your senses.
Stand on the anchors and the big vented four wheel discs pull the car up with confidence inspiring ease and a lack of fuss. Snick the paddle shift down a couple of gears and the exhaust snaps back with some smile inducing pops and crackles.
For the safety minded, the 2020 Ford Mustang GT only gets a 3-star ANCAP rating. It does however pack eight airbags, as well as having front collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning.
There’s also active cruise control, and the stability and traction control we mentioned earlier. It comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with 24/7 roadside assist and capped price servicing for up to 12 years.
A total of 10 colours are available, including Twister Orange, Shadow Black, Race Red, Oxford White, Kona Blue, Magnetic, Rapid Red, Iconic Silver, Velocity Blue and of course, Grabber Lime. A high performance 2.3-litre variant is also available.
Our test vehicle was provided by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Ford Mustang GT, contact your local Ford dealer.