Car review: All hail the muscle Mustang

2019-08-11 00:02

The peaceful town of Montagu in the Western Cape recently had a rude awakening when Melinda Ferguson and 12 muscle cars roared into the sleepy hamlet for the launch of the Ford Mustang.

Mustang Bullitt
2.3 Fastback 10 AT – R768 000
5.0 GT Fastback 10 AT – R915 800
Bullitt 5.0 V8 GT Fastback – R995 400

Ford Fiesta
1.0T Titanium automatic
Price: R310 600

Embodying an explosion of testosterone, dangerous growls and pure unadulterated joy, the Ford Mustang has deep historical roots. In 1964, it made its debut at the World Fair in New York.

The first Mustang to roll off the assembly line was a white convertible with just three gears. Its price tag was an affordable $2 368. At the current exchange rate, that’s about R30 000, but back in 1964, with the favourable rand/dollar exchange rate, it would have cost just R1 300.

The Mustang carries the honour of being the only original pony car to remain in uninterrupted production for more than 50 years. But in the 60s, just as it was on the launch of this year’s addition, it was the rebellious Bullitt that caused much consternation.

The Dark Highland Green muscle car made its cinematic debut in the 1968 classic Bullitt, starring Hollywood heart-throb Steve McQueen. Behind the wheel of the ferocious 1967 V8 Mustang GT 390 Fastback, McQueen chased the baddies down the twisty streets of San Francisco in arguably the most exciting car chase in movie history.

Last year, to celebrate 50 years of the iconic Bullitt, Ford released its latest monster, powered by an uprated 5-litre V8 engine, boasting 338Kw of power and a delightfully fun-to-operate six-speed manual gearbox.

Limited to just 50 local units, the Bullitt has roared into South Africa along with its somewhat more sedate brothers and sisters. But sedate is a relative term. Even the entry-level 2.3 EcoBoost is a driver’s dream with peak outputs of 213Kw and 441Nm of torque, moving from zero to 100km/h in just 5.8 seconds.

Of course, the Bullitt, with 331Kw and 529Nm, surging from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, is the pick of the pair if you are into speed and power.

Available in Fastback and Convertible, both are privileged with Ford’s advanced 10-speed automatic transmission.

Now, for those who can only dream of owning the Mustang, the Ford Fiesta is a worthy alternative. Launched in June last year, the range-topping 1.0T Titanium swaggers with a stiffer chassis and oozes sporty appeal with its 17-inch alloy wheels, shod with Michelin Pilot Sport4 rubber.

The 1.0T Titanium auto with its three-cylinder turbopetrol engine delivers 74Kw and 170Nm, while the manual is more spirited with 92Kw of power. The in-car tech is impressive with its user-friendly “floating” 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with SYNC3, Bluetooth, voice control, navigation and App Connect. There’s also a bag of standard goodies such as cruise control, rear park distance control and my absolute favourite, heated seats. Plus, it’s much more economical on fuel consumption with a claimed 5.4 litres per 100km, while that badass Mustang came in at about 13 litres per 100km.

Here’s a bit of Mustang trivia to share at petrolhead dinner parties: The most valuable Mustang today is the 1966 GT350 Convertible, which goes for a cool $740 000 (R11 million) and, if it’s in tip-top shape, for just under $1 million.

A limited edition Bullitt may well be a worthy long-term investment.

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January 12 2020