Evolution is a word, with which we are all very familiar, thanks to the Darwinian theory, but when we look at car manufacturers of today, the adapt and survive technique seems to be the order of the day. So, when Ford decided to put the steering wheel of its pony car, on the right side (and thought of doing so despite the car being in production for 50 years), one could understand, where the American car manufacturer was taking the Mustang. Europe was quite obviously the first choice, but another country was to benefit from this decision - India!
Ford announced last year, when it launched the Aspire, that the Mustang was on its way here; and though many of us were skeptical of this decision of the company, there was hope. The hope got translated into joy, when things were confirmed and the car finally made it to the Indian soil for homologation. So, you can imagine the thrill on our faces, when 52 years later, the Mustang has made it to Indian soil.
In over half a century, Ford has sold more than 9.2 million units of the Mustang, but the popularity of the Coupe was evident when Ford managed to sell 1.10 lakh units just in 2015, so evolving to RHD did have its effect. But, moving the steering from one side to the other isn't enough and Ford has had to work hard, to make things exciting and take it to the next level, without compromising on the essence that is the Mustang. This is where the exterior look comes into play and the key differentiators are the sleeker A-pillars and C-pillars, the pillar-less construction in between and the lowering of the roofline, by 8 inches. The rear track too has grown by 70mm.
Up front, the trapezoidal radiator grille of the Mustang and the 'shark-bite' front bumper and 'tri-bar' LED tail-lights do justice to the menacing look of the Mustang. In fact, all that in black is an absolute knee bender. So it looks menacing, yet seductive; and it's a combination that none will stay away from. The Mustang is made from a mix of high-strength steel pressings and the ultra-high-strength castings and forgings and the steel tube are all laser-welded. This makes the car's under-body 28% more rigid than its predecessor and we could feel it come into play, when we put it through its paces on the Buddh International Circuit.
Suspension duties that are handled by MacPherson strut up front, while an integral link, multi-link set-up, at the rear, replaces the live axle that the Mustang came with. With this new, fully independent front and rear suspension system, this is probably the most nimble Mustang ever made; and it showed, when we took it out on the track. We say this because American sports cars are usually fast in a straight line and a disaster, when they are made to take a corner, but the new Mustang throws that theory out of the window. It's alive and kicks out and this is when you start enjoying it and you have to thank the Ford engineers for it.
But it's also about the power and, under the hood, the Mustang gets a 5.0-litre V8, which has quite a growl to it. We'd expected it to make a bit more noise, but it settles for a grunt. The India-spec Mustang offers 395bhp and develops 515Nm of torque and all that power is sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Put your foot on the throttle and the pony car hesitates a bit, but the delay in power is a bare minimal. The hesitation in the gear changes is also evident, when you try and change the gears via the paddle shifter. But you can't complain, can you, as the front engine rear-wheel drive American Sports car has much more to offer. The car features four selectable driving modes - Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow/Wet. What these settings do is adjust the car's throttle, steering and stability control. There are also three modes of steering resistance, which can be adjusted for acquiring the desired feedback.
I got to try both the Sport+ and the Track modes and, in both, the Mustang performs better than expected. The body roll is kept under check, when you move in and out of corners and it changes direction quickly. I didn't have the guts, to put the traction control off, as we got to do just four laps around the track, but it just might kick the tail out and slide around happily. The power delivery is smooth and this is made easier by the standard limited-slip diff. The 19-inch wheels provide enough grip and the performance brakes have a great bite to them.
But how is it on the inside? Well, the cabin is quite sporty looking too, with four seats on offer.
Trust me but there are no adults, who can manage to crawl into the back seat. It's next to impossible to sit comfortably there, but what you do get is a whole bunch of features. There's a dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen with SYNC2, keyless entry, a push button start and MyKey (which allows parents to limit top speed, audio system volume and set limits to prevent disabling of driver-assist features). The dash is well laid out and the toggle switches just below the centre console are a brilliant touch. You can hear the grunt and groan from the exhaust on the inside and that's clearly something you don't have to roll down your windows for.
On the safety front, the Mustang comes with eight airbags, along with a knee airbag situated in the glove-box. Then, there are crash sensors all around the car, which help deploy the airbags; and of course there are seat belt pre-tensioners. The Mustang will come to India as a CBU unit, straight from the Flat Rock assembly plant in the US; and this is one reason why it will cost ₹ 65 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). Given that it attracts 100 per cent import duty, the pricing of the Mustang then is justified. While bookings for the car have already started in Mumbai and Delhi, the phase wise bookings will see other cities joining in soon.
Yes, the obvious car we are comparing it to is the Audi TT; but the folks at Ford say that the Mustang is in a league of its own and we can't agree more. It's an icon that had attained cult status in India, even before it was launched by the company. The Mustang launched in India is not a do-or-die model for Ford, but we think the response to it might just see the evolution of a whole new breed of car buyers here. We'll have to wait and watch!