First drive: Ford Mustang 2010 UAE launch at Dubai Autodrome
The 2010 Ford Mustang GT made its official UAE debut at an event on July 16th in the Dubai Autodrome, even while the car is already on sale. Looking very familiar, it has been overshadowed by the 2010 Chevy Camaro, so much so that Ford Middle East recruited the Emirates Mustang Club to drum up support for the launch event. Being among so many Mustang fanboys is enough to passively intimidate anyone into saying only positive things about the pony car.
As seen in these photos by Faisal Khatib, the evening event started off with a precision driving show by the Autodrome instructors whizzing around in two Mustangs among sets of cones. In the course of the largely fine driving, the two cars unintentionally spun out and almost hit the track walls three times between them, which was a sign of what to expect from the car.
As the sun started setting, we were taken to an autocross course set up with cones. It was a 30-second course, and everyone got two attempts at it. All the journalists there seemed to do rather well, softly manoeuvring the hefty car through the tight turns. And then it was my turn.
I took off, went through a few cones, and in the first tight left-hander, promptly swung very wide as the stability control intervened early and caused the car to violently understeer while cutting the power. I then proceeded to swing through the slalom section, and ran straight into another cone at the end of the section, after which I came to another left-hander, when the car again violently understeered under the incessant loudly-groaning braking by the pussified stability control system, which we were not allowed to turn off.
The worst part is I proceeded to do the same thing again on my second try, embarrassing myself in front of some journalists who I thrashed at the previous Ford autocross event. Kudos to them for bettering me.
I could come up with a few excuses. I’d never driven a Mustang before in my life. Coming off testing a GT-R just a couple of days before, my idea of what a sports car should do were skewed. The Mustang responds well to being babied around corners rather than being thrown in aggressively. And the stability control is tuned for teenagers.
I looked forward to the high-speed track drive more, even if it was but a couple of laps. Only the V8-powered Mustang GT will be sold in the UAE and GCC, with a choice of transmissions, while having the option of a coupe, a convertible and a glass roof.
Only the automatics were available for the track, led by instructor-driven Ford Flex AWD crossovers, of all things. It was easy enough following the Flex’s tail-lights around, and the track drive was fun as usual. The surprising bit was when the Mustang was mildly squealing tyres keeping up with a van around many of the corners, and feeling a wee bit wonky under hard braking, none of which are the traits of a modern sports car.
To its credit, the Mustang has overtaken the Camaro in terms of interior quality, with a soft-touch dashboard and aluminium inserts. Also, even if the V8 engine is primitive, it still has a lot more torque than a comparable V6-powered Camaro or any other coupe, making the pony car quicker than them. And the gimmicky tail-light indicators flash in a choreographed pattern that almost makes you forget the lack of real gadgetry such as starter buttons or tiptronic paddles.
As is, with its live-axle rear suspension, basic auto gearbox and carryover V8, the Mustang GT could theoretically be a fun car to drive in a crude way. Under all the restrictions of the event, we didn’t get to unleash any of its real tyre-smoking talents and simply got to see it being outclassed by a Flex. I’d like to reserve judgement for when I can drive it under my own terms.
For UAE pricing and GCC specs, visit the Ford Mustang buyer guide.