First drive: 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost in the UAE
Some say it’s blasphemous to have a Ford Mustang with anything less than a V8. And yet, most of the Mustangs running around the UAE are of the V6 variety. True, the V6 used to be a joke, but it has held its own in the performance stakes for a good while now, easily matching up with older V8 versions of the Mustang. And now, with 2015 bringing us an all-new “modern” Mustang, there is a 4-cylinder offering as well, and it even costs more than the V6. Blasphemy!
It’s pricier for a reason. The 4-cylinder variant packs a 2.3-litre turbocharged “EcoBoost” engine, and at 325 hp with 428 Nm of torque, offers a slightly bigger punch than the base V6. The more important advantage is said to be the lower fuel consumption.
The new Mustang itself is new-from-the-ground up. Apparently longer, wider and taller than before, we weren’t fans of the softer new styling direction, but we have to admit, it looks good in this test car’s colour combo. There are intricate details, such as the sharp chin spoiler and the chrome trim around the tail lamps, that don’t come off clearly in photos. There’s also no way to tell that we weren’t rocking a “5.0”, unless you look for badges.
The interior is hugely improved from the hard-plastic tub of the old model, with generous use of well-padded leatherette and chunks of metal dash trim. With pretty gauges, a big LCD touchscreen and metal toggle switches for certain functions, the premium ambience is miles ahead of the plasticky Chevy Camaro, aside from having better outward visibility and general airiness as well. Even the boot is bigger, although the rear seats are still not fit for adults.
It drives very well. Instant responses to inputs from the steering and brakes, as well as a willing 6-speed automatic gearbox in ‘sport’ mode, make it a pleasure to pilot without having to worry about the laggy dual-clutch crap or the grabby brakes that afflict several European sports cars.
The moderately-weighted steering is direct and offers some feedback, while the brakes are strong and behave linearly. There’s also tons of grip around corners, with minimal body roll and neutral behaviour. About the only issue we noticed was a slight floatiness over certain road imperfections, likely a side-effect of a more compliant ride.
Indeed, the new Mustang rides softer and quieter than any before it. Mind you, it’s no Rolls-Royce, as those low-profile do pick up some of the harsher bumps, but it’s a car you can easily commute in now.
As for the engine, there’s more than enough power to be entertaining, but we were expecting more of a kick from the turbo engine, to be honest. There’s a moderate push at low revs and then power builds gradually rather than relentlessly. It also sounds like a Toyota Corolla at low revs, but then there’s a nice grunt as the revs build up, although we don’t know how much of that is a faux tune played via the speakers — something that BMW pioneered with their latest M5.
That said, the 4-cylinder Mustang is a wonderful car. As actual owners of all sorts of Eurasian sports cars, we wouldn’t mind owning an EcoBoost at all, given how refined it is now. And historically, a 4-cylinder Mustang has precedence — the 1984-1986 Mustang SVO had a turbo-4 and was the fastest pony available at the time. Today however, the Mustang EcoBoost’s biggest rival happens to be the 435 hp Mustang GT. Offering over a hundred horses more, the 5.0 GT costs not a whole lot more than the EcoBoost. In terms of pricing, it needs to hit the sweet spot right between the V6 and the V8.
For prices and specs, visit the Ford buyer guide.