An American in Adelaide – the Mustang takes over

16_Mustang (5)We’re a largely hypocritical mob, us Australian domiciled foreign car nerds. For most of my life I’ve never glanced twice at our local product (‘why can’t we build cars like the Germans/Italians/Japanese do etc etc’), but as soon as a funeral date is announced for our automotive industry we get all teary. How can you shut down the Holden factory, the Commodore is as Australian as Dame Edna! we cry. But life moves on; like it or not we live in a global marketplace and it just doesn’t make sense to build bespoke cars for a small population like ours anymore. The Commodore and Falcon will soon be but a chapter in an upcoming History of Australia coffee table book.

16_Mustang (10)But thankfully us Australian’s aren’t the only ones who like a slice of performance with our salary-sacrifice lease cars and it seems that Ford Australia is coping well with the demise of Falcon. If anything, the departure of the XR8 and Falcon GT has forced Ford Australia to finally take serious notice of what else exists in the car park of its global family. Patriotism aside, the performance car consumer will be the winner. From Europe will come the storming new Focus RS, and from America, the Mustang.

16_MustangAustralians are not unique in liking big V8 powered sports sedans, and it is good to finally see the Mustang imported with serious intent. Sure, there were a few aborted attempts in the early 2000’s when Ford Australia tried to convert Mustang’s to right-hand drive locally and sell them for close to $100k, but what we have here is a competitively equipped and priced Mustang that was designed and developed with us in mind. If I’m honest it’s not my type of car but it’s hard to walk past an attractively styled, front engined, rear wheel drive, manual V8 coupe for $55k. The Mustang range in Australia starts at $45k for the turbocharged EcoBoost four, and the V8 auto convertible shown here tops the line at $63k. In my eyes that’s pretty decent value across the range.

16_Mustang (1)Australian RHD deliveries will start in November, but when I got word that a LHD press car was touring the country and would be stopping for a night in Adelaide I just had to get down to the launch event at Jarvis Ford Norwood for a look. Overall, I was pretty impressed. It’s physically a huge car and I doubt it will be the sharpest tool in the box dynamically, but that’s not what the Mustang is about. It’s about fun times and relaxed drives along the coast.

16_Mustang (2) This Mustang continues the recent tradition of a courteous nod to the past without being overly retro. They’ve really defined the visual language well – you just know that it’s a Mustang. It’s not trying to be European or anything, it just is what it is and I respect that.

16_Mustang (7)And even if that means having a ground speed gauge in the dash, I respect that too. Just.

16_Mustang (6)A few years back we rented a 2013 Mustang convertible in Hawaii for a week and that was one of the most enjoyable motoring experiences of recent memory. There was nothing about that car that especially stood out, but as a package it just seemed to work (as long as you didn’t push it too hard). This new Mustang promises to be a little sharper and a little quicker, and I think that will really enhance the experience.

16_Mustang (3)The new Mustang isn’t a replacement for the XR8, which appealed to the family man who couldn’t trade four doors but still wanted big power. Sadly there will soon be nothing south of $150k that will properly fill that space. But the Mustang appeals in a new way, to a new market.

16_Mustang (11)Make my Mustang a manual GT V8 fastback in Ruby Red, with satin black stripes and the optional rear spoiler. Add some aggressive Japanese wheels, a louder exhaust and a free flowing intake to bump up the power and there’s a car I’d be excited to see. I’ve never once walked past a Falcon of any badge and had those kind of thoughts.

16_Mustang (4)Words and photos by Andrew Coles. Thanks to Jarvis Ford Norwood for the preview – stay tuned for a full drive report when the first Australian cars land.

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