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Driven: Interest still high for Ford Mustang

Need for speed: The Ford Mustang’s popularity across popular culture, as seen in both the video game and movie versions of Need for Speed, has resulted in strong sales for the Blue Oval brand.

Ford’s facelifted Mustang still expected to be Australia’s favourite sportscar


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7 Jun 2018

OVERWHELMING interest in Ford’s Mustang pony car has translated to an increase in supply as the Blue Oval launches its updated V8-powered sixth-generation muscle car into Australian showrooms this month.
When it was launched in late 2015, the first factory right-hook Mustang was an instant sell out, with waiting lists blowing out up to a year and a half on certain specifications, and it has since accrued 29 consecutive months as Australia’s best-selling sportsca, starting in January 2016.
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted V8 Mustang GT coupe and convertible, Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman said the brand was now in a better position to supply Mustangs to local buyers.
“We are a priority market these days, which is great not just from a supply point of view, but from a product point of view because our voice is very strong now – it’s very encouraging,” he said.
“(But that) doesn’t necessarily mean we will have ample supply all the time. I suspect when we start out we will be creaking a little bit in terms of supply because we’ve got a number of people who have put money down or asked for a new Mustang, but we’ll work really hard to try and reduce any waiting time. 
“It certainly won’t be the 12 to 18 month waits that we had, but it might be a few months depending on any given month.”
In total, 17,779 sixth-generation Mustangs have been registered to the end of May 2018, making Australia the largest right-hand drive market in the world for Ford’s pony car, outpacing the UK, South Africa and India.
Mr Whickman would not be drawn on how many Mustangs Ford was aiming to sell by year’s end, but said that last year’s 9165 total – which is 895 units more than the entire Jeep line-up’s 8270 year-end tally – is likely the high-water mark.
“I think last year when we sold 9000 units – I mean we sold four to five times what Britain did – it was a big year last year, we walked into the year with three or four thousand orders still waiting to be filled, so I think 9000 is probably a banner year for us, I wouldn’t suggest that that is a normal run rate,” he said.
“The year before that was 6000, so no, I don’t think that (growing Mustang sales in 2018) will probably be the outcome, but I think we will finish with a respectable number.”
So far this year, Mustang sales have reached 2285 units, a near 40 per cent drop over the same period in 2017, but it is still far and away the most-popular sportscar on the market ahead of the BMW 2 Series coupe and convertible (707), Mazda MX-5 (433) and Toyota 86 (427).
Mr Whickman said the significant drop in sales was not due to waning consumer demand, rather it was related to the end of the Mustangs first lifecycle.
“We knew that as you come to the end of this model … naturally, there is always going to be … a lower volume as you get right to the end and then start coming up with the new one,” he said. “That’s very, very normal, it doesn’t really matter if that sportscar, a Ranger or any vehicle.”
As GoAuto previously reported, the facelifted Mustang will receive a price hikes across the board for both four-cylinder and V8-powered coupes and convertibles.
Ford’s sportscar range now kicks off $4000 pricier than before at $49,990 before on-roads for the six-speed manual EcoBoost Fastback, while the automatic versions – which gains a new 10-speed transmission replacing a six-speed unit – moves $4500 upstream to $52,990 for the fixed roof version and $59,490 for the drop-top.
Mustang buyers opting for V8 power will now fork over an additional $5500 for the $62,990 manual GT, while the $66,259 GT auto is up $6269 and the $74,709 range-topping, automatic-only Convertible is up by $8793.
However, only V8 versions will be available now, with EcoBoost Mustangs heading to showrooms in September due to production scheduling.
The 2018 Mustang range also receives a number of tweaks to justify the price rises, headlined by greater outputs in the free-breathing bent eight, but less for the force-fed four pot.
Ford’s turbocharged 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine loses 9kW of power to 224kW, but gains 9Nm in torque to 441Nm. Comparatively, the manic Focus RS that shares the same powertrain develops 257kW/440Nm.
Tweaks to the 5.0-litre Coyote V8 however, have amped up outputs by 33kW/26Nm to 339kW/556Nm thanks to an increase in bore size from 92.2mm to 93mm, dual fuel injection, an all-new cylinder head design, and new crankshaft and connecting rod bearings.
Three-pedal versions also gain an upgraded twin-disc clutch, with V8 variants also adding a dual-mass flywheel, resulting in reduced engagement effort and improved feel.
Fuel economy in the GT is pegged at 13.0 litres per 100km/h for manual and 12.7L/100km for the automatics.
Thanks to a new Drag Strip launch control mode that is included in Australian-spec Mustangs unlike the controversial Line-Lock function, the updated muscle car can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 4.3 seconds in automatic V8 Fastback guise, while the auto-only convertible is slightly slower at 4.5s and the three-pedal version the slowest at 4.6s.
Larger Brembo brakes are also included as standard with 380mm vented discs and six-piston callipers up front, and 330mm vented discs and single-piston floating iron callipers in the rear.
As a result, the Mustang GT’s wheel size has grown an inch to 19s, while suspension has been reworked across the range and includes new shock absorbers. 
A bimodal exhaust is fitted to all versions, but V8-equipped Mustangs wear straight-cut, quad-tail pipes. Four settings are available for the system – Quiet, Normal, Sport and Track – while a Good Neighbour function allows drivers to set what time of day the exhaust will open up.  
Externally, the facelifted Mustang is easily distinguished by a reworked front end that includes a lower bonnet and grille, LED lighting and bonnet vents.
From the rear, LED tail-lights, a fresh bumper and black-coloured diffuser in V8 versions identify the new Mustang, while exterior colour options expand to include Orange Fury, Kona Blue and Royal Crimson.
Equipment levels have also been boosted, with a customisable 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster included as standard on all Aussie-spec cars, new soft-touch points on door trims and the centre console, and a redesigned leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Safety features have also been given a lift with the inclusion of autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and automatic high beams, in addition to the carryover reversing camera. As reported, ANCAP increased its safety rating from two to three stars for the updated coupe variants.
Ford’s Sync3 8.0-inch touchscreen handles infotainment duties and boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, emergency assist and satellite navigation.
Options include MagneRide adaptive suspension, Over-The-Top strips sticker package, rear spoiler, Recaro front seats and different 19-inch wheel designs.


2018 Ford Mustang pricing*

EcoBoost Fastback $49,990
EcoBoost Fastback (a) $52,990
EcoBoost Convertible (a) $59,490
GT Fastback $62,990
GT Fastback (a) $66,259
GT Convertible (a) $74,709

*Excludes on-road costs

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