First drive: 2018 Ford Mustang GT in the UAE
We’ve already said before that the current Ford Mustang GT is quite possibly the best all-rounder sports coupe to come out of America ever. It’s still a fresh model, having hit the GCC only in 2015. However, a facelift as well as some thorough upgrades were introduced for 2018.
The most obvious change is the more angry new face, featuring completely new front-end body panels and a lower nose. The rear only gets slightly-reshaped tail lights.
Inside, our top-spec test car features black leather upholstery with contrast stitching, with available new features such as the stitched leatherette on the centre-console around the gear shifter, and a customisable 12-inch LCD screen fully replacing the physical gauge cluster.
Being equipped with the Premium package, our test car also has soft-touch padded door panels, aside from all the carryover features such as colour-changing mood lighting, decent dual-zone climate control, and the latest SYNC 3 multimedia system.
The recently-upgraded touchscreen responds to the lightest touch, the icons are larger, and the basic layout is now among the easiest to use.
Smartphone-style swipe and zoom, voice controls in English and Arabic, Apply CarPlay, and navigation are all there, with free map updates for five years.
Thankfully, there are still physical a/c and stereo buttons, aside from a million shortcut buttons on the steering wheel that will take a while to figure out.
Space and all-round visibility up front is excellent, while rear passengers will feel cramped. But the boot is of a decent size, making it a fairly practical car.
Under the hood, the 2018 Mustang GT gets an updated 460 hp 5.0-litre V8 with 569 Nm of torque. It delivers its abundant power linearly, and has a stronger low-end kick that was missing from previous models, thanks to a new 10-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-shifters. A 6-speed manual is still available.
By far, the coolest new feature is the adjustable exhaust sound, with a quiet mode for silent starts, and an extra-loud track mode, with a couple of other modes in between. The noise also varies in conjunction with the new drive modes, which includes a drag option and launch control.
The Mustang GT handles very well, slightly better than before due to suspension updates. While it offers excellent grip when power is fed in controlled doses, it still does not offer the ultimate confidence that a BMW M2 or even a Chevy Camaro SS does. This is because Ford does not offer the performance package in our region, which would have added adaptive suspension and tighter handling.
Even without adaptive suspension, the Mustang rides in reasonable comfort for a sporty car, and not too noisy on the highway either. We appreciated the refinement on long drives.
The 2018 GT is by far the best evolution of the standard Ford Mustang, although the price increase that accompanied this update now makes it out of reach for many in its target market.
Photos by Raies Imam.