The quintessential pony car and one of Ford’s most iconic models, the Mustang, has finally been made available in South Africa in production right-hand-drive form.

I suspect that I share the traditional view of the Mustang as a performance icon. As far back as Steve McQueen ran down those bad guys in Bullit in ’68 and as recently as Aaron Paul piloted a ridiculously powerful Shelby Mustang from coast to coast in Need for Speed.

But, with midday traffic around the Cape Peninsula not allowing me to hoon, I settle for exploring the Mustang’s real talent – turning heads. I’ve driven precious few vehicles that garner as much attention as the Mustang, whether it was cruising south on the M5 highway, or parked on a bustling street in the Cape Town CBD. Onlookers and passengers crane and twist necks while their hands fumble to access the camera on their smartphones so as to take a selfie with the vehicle in the background or watch it roar down the street.

Ford admits that the Mustang is not available here to take on the likes of BMW’s M4, but will represent much more as the ultimate expression of the Blue Oval and act as a brand builder– above the likes of the ST and RS offerings.

And as a flagship, the Mustang doesn’t disappoint in the looks department. It’s unmistakable in that
it calls on the legendary design cues of its predecessors, but adds modern touches such as the hexagonal grille and narrow headlamps that’s become very familiar on models such as the Focus and the Fusion. Visually, the only real difference between the two engine variants (the 2,3 litre Ecoboost and 5,0 litre GT) is the rear badging. The four-cylinder motor wears the  traditional running pony, whereas the V8 Mustang gets a GT badge.

Inside, the Mustang boasts Ford’s Track Apps function, which along with the accelerometer, acceleration timer and brake performance (braking time and distance) display also features a Launch Control System on the 5,0 V8 manual model, as well as Line Lock mode. The latter applies the brakes on the front axle to let the driver perform ludicrous burnouts at will.

The 2,3 isn’t really a performance letdown, but it doesn’t really inspire the same level of enthusiasm that the V8 does. The bigger-engined car responds to right pedal inputs with a bassy roar and linear power delivery that doesn’t feel burstable. You’ll pay for that kind of driving at the pumps, but who cares when you look as good as this?

The only option on the Mustang is metallic paint, available for an extra R750. All versions come equipped with a 5-year/ 100 000 km service plan.


This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.