CAR: New Ford Mustang is Also the New Vauxhall Monaro,

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Title : CAR: New Ford Mustang is Also the New Vauxhall Monaro,
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CAR: New Ford Mustang is Also the New Vauxhall Monaro,

Cheap V8 cars are abundant in America, and have been since at least the 1960s. Fuel is cheap and standards for quality are arguably lower, so of course the muscle car makes sense there. Here? Ford have never seen reason to bring the Mustang here. It's big, brash, thirsty and unsophisticated, making it very much a niche buy in the UK, where roads are old and narrow, fuel is wildly overpriced and - let's be honest - sometimes people can be a little bit snobby. Would you turn up to a prestigious event amongst be-suited owners of Jags and Mercs in an orange T-shirt and sandals? No. They'd assume you were a loud and obnoxious simpleton, like your car. American muscle isn't exactly socially acceptable in most places.

Having said that, around where I live there seems to be an underground community of muscle car guys. The local specialist garage has a Trans-Am and a big '50s pickup in it among the Supras and Lotuses. I occasionally see a mid '90s Mustang (or even a red Fox-body) grumbling around near the petrol station and a house near me used to be lived in by someone with a MASSIVE '00s Dodge Ram pickup. Whether it's born from wanting some of that TV glam, a love of cartoonish cars or just a love of bang for buck (as a Dodge Viper owner once explained to me while keeping up with Porsche Carreras on a track), there are a smallish number of people in this country who can dig the Americana, or who don't mind saving money on quality to spend on fuelling and taxing a cheap V8 instead.

Previously the only officially available car here that served these people was the Vauxhall Monaro, a British-badged Australian take on the American muscle car (also sold on the loud continent as the Pontiac GTO). For around £35,000 you got a strong 'n' simple recipe of big V8, rear-drive, manual gearbox and chocolate-tray interior plastics housing bits from a saloon car. It had a brutish charm and an insatiable appetite for drifting matched only by an AMG Mercedes, which costs twice as much. Even Jeremy Clarkson loved it! It later evolved into the four-door VXR8 (HSV Commodore R8 to the Aussies), today's evolution offering 576bhp for £50k. Not the same value and hard to come by. Allegedly the Chevrolet Camaro of Transformers fame was sold here for a time, but at no point have I ever seen a single one, and Chevrolet won't actually exist at all in the UK by next year anyway. So where are we supposed to find a shouty V8 skid sled for £35k now?

Ford, that's where.

Ford has decided to stop having a wholly separate European range of cars and has spent the decade so far merging the EU and US models, taking the Fiesta, Focus and C-Max there, merging Fusion and Mondeo together and bringing the Mustang here. We get two engine choices, a fuel-friendly 2.3 Ecoboost turbocharged 4-cylinder - a version of the Focus ST engine - and the proper 5.0 V8. Americans get a V6 version too, but that's just for the ones who are allergic to four-pot muscle cars. We don't need that when the Ecoboost gives about the same performance with better economy. 320bhp, 317lb/ft and about 34mpg, in fact. But let's be honest here, who gives a shit about that? The four-cylinder version (which sadly "needs" artificially enhanced audio) is £28k basic, but the proper V8 one is £33k, just £5k more. You'd stretch up the extra, wouldn't you? You just would. As Chris Harris points out in the video up top, if you're buying into the American way of life, you want, nay, NEED a big V8. That's kinda the whole point, ain't it?

"But is anyone here really going to buy into the American Dream?" you ask. Well boy ah tell you whut, if you think nobody cares, you're dead wrong. The UK's first 130-unit allocation of RHD ponies were all sold in less than 30 seconds! The Mustang may not have been on sale here before, but it's been an icon for over 50 years, and icons are always desirable. In fact, all in all, 9900 Europeans tried to get a new 'Stang straight away. Once all the eager ones get their car, though, it'll be interesting to see if sales tail off or if Ford manages to hold our attention over the next few years.

The 5.0 V8 is rumored to get an upgrade to 500 horsepower next year, but for now it offers 420bhp, 386lb/ft, 21mpg and 299g/km of CO2, all of which isn't actually that bad for what it is. 0-60mph takes 4.8 seconds, a whole second faster than the Weak-o-Boost turbo four... while coughing up 120 more carbon dioxides, mind you. You can have either a lazily traditional 6-speed automatic (£1500) or a proudly traditional 6-speed manual funbox (£0). Don't go thinking this is just a retro throwback, though. For the first time, the Mustang has completely terminated its use of a live rear axle. If you don't know what a live rear axle is, take apart a Hot Wheels toy and take an axle out of that. It looks like that, but with a driveshaft going to the engine/transmission. Up until now the Mustang has had one in various evolutions since 1964, and much like the 911's rear-mounted engine, criticise the outdated concept and you'll be met with defensive outrage from fans every time. For Ford to have gone all complicated with the rear suspension is a big and bold move...

According to Drift Monkey Harris, it doesn't transform it into a BMW M4 (which costs £57k basic and won't be bought basic), partly because to please the home crowd, Ford had to make it still feel like a Mustang. Instead the result is an insatiable appetite for oversteer matched only by an AMG Mercedes, which also costs twice as much. While a vast improvement on the previous generation, the first global Mustang remains a strong 'n' simple recipe with a brutish charm. It's loud, proud and leaves onlookers wowed by the cartoonish looks. All for about £35k. If you miss the Monaro VXR and don't mind looking like a bit of a cowboy, here is your savior. Buy it, skid it, stick a middle finger up at the front-wheel-drive Audi TTs and VW Sciroccos you could've bought instead. Paint it dark green and pretend you're Steve McQueen. Piss off M4 drivers. Go on, it'll be fun! You'll have to wait a year first, though...

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