Then, there’s the powertrain to keep me firmly in the driver’s seat. Ford, rightly, has brought in the full fat 5-litre, naturally aspirated V8 petrol powerhouse to India. It makes almost 400bhp – nothing to go weak-kneed or cry foul – but it sounds nice putting those horses through their paces. A pleasing baritone if you will. It isn’t the most powerful V8 on sale in India but it has that tyre-shredding grunt that makes a Mustang, well, a Mustang.
On the Buddh International Circuit long back straight, 200kmph came up without a bother. The engine is refined, it pulls well from as low as 4000rpm, and revs without losing steam all the way to its near 7000rpm redline.
Sadly, the engine needed a better companion than the 6-speed auto it comes mated to. One can shift manually via the paddle shifters, but the shifts themselves, both up and down the ‘box, are a bit too lethargic. We tried it in all modes – Normal, Wet, Sport+ and even Race, but still found it wanting.
Not that it took much away from the overall driving experience because I was still grinning all the way; especially around bends. The thing is, this the sixth generation Mustang is the best handling production Mustang ever. It has the best brakes, the best suspension, the best tyres, and the best technology on a Mustang… ahem… ever.
But, it isn’t a handling god. It still rolls and doesn’t exactly dart into corners. It could also do with a quicker steering rack. And its first reaction to measured throttle input nearing corner exits is to understeer.
But, here’s the Ford coupe’s party trick, all 515Nm of it.
Understeer? No problem. Lift off, let the nose tuck back into the corner, and then mash the throttle to the floor. The flat and meaty torque easily overwhelms the rear tyres and before you know it, you can feel the rear coming around.
Best part? It isn’t snappy. Instead, the rear just glides out of line giving the driver enough time to catch, hold or add even more angle to the drift coming out of corners with easy to balance steering and throttle inputs. The limited slip differential helps hugely, of course. So, yes, sliding around the Mustang really is as easy as it reads.
This is in Race mode wherein the ESP is at its lenient best. It isn’t as flowing in other modes, of course, not with the electronic nanny donning its headmaster cap and cutting in sooner than we would have liked. Also, let’s be clear that the Mustang feels heavy and a little squishy changing directions while squatting on its haunches, bellowing smoke from its rear tyres in opposite lock.
But, here’s the thing: Even with all its heft, it’s still manageable. In fact, it is more than that – it’s tremendous FUN! Exactly, as I had imagined a Mustang to be. Only this one is a little less hairy.