Life's no drag in a

new Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, racing
Ford Mustang, racing
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, front
Ford Mustang, side
Ford Mustang, side
Ford Mustang, side
Ford Mustang, rear
Ford Mustang, rear
Ford Mustang, rear
Ford Mustang, boot
Ford Mustang, interior
Ford Mustang, interior
Ford Mustang, interior
Ford Mustang, interior

I WOULDN'T normally rattle on with great enthusiasm about a car's track performance, but the latest Ford Mustang has a new ‘Drag Strip' mode and with the prestigious Santa Pod raceway set as our destination, where else could I start?

The new Mustang muscle car in 5.0-litre V8 guise now boasts even more power delivering 450ps which is an increase of 38ps and it can be mated to a new 10-speed Selectshift automatic gearbox which results in a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.3 seconds and top speed limited to 155mph.

Santa Pod raceway near Wellingborough in Nothamptonsire was established in 1966 and over the years has built up a reputation as one of the world's most popular venues. So, what better place to try out the all-new ‘Drag Strip' mode on the Mustang?

We were paired up against colleagues and lined up at the start, revs topping the 2,000rpm mark with left foot firmly planted on the brake pedal - most unnatural in an automatic.

Then as the series of lights changed to green we blasted down the track at breath-taking pace.

The gear shifts sent another surge of power through the car and the 100mph marker was soon surpassed with the finishing line some way ahead.

My time was just over 13 seconds for a distance of a quarter of a mile. So, in conclusion, it would be fair to say the ‘Drag Strip' mode works pretty effectively.

Track aside though and back to the real world, the new Mustang really is the complete package and even has a reasonable entry price with the lower-powered 2.3-litre EcoBoost models costing from £36,645.

Step up to the mighty 5.0 V8 GT and the cost rises to £41,745.

The facelifted car looks more dynamic thanks to a number of subtle styling upgrades and it is available in 11 colours including Orange Fury which is accounting for about a third of sales so far.

Other enhancements include a revised grille, a lower bonnet with integrated scoops, a front splitter and revised light clusters that now includes the tri-bar effect LEDs as standard.

At the rear the lights have also been revamped and the bumper has been tweaked. There are also new wheel designs to select from.

Move inside and the main upgrade of note is the instrumentation cluster - a new 12-inch digital display replaces the outgoing traditional dial set-up and this can be configured according to the selected drive mode.

There is the new Drag Strip mode as I mentioned but there is also the Quiet mode in the latest Mustang and that means you can leave your house early in the morning and return home late at night without falling out with your neighbours.

Altogether there are six driving modes called Normal, Snow/Wet, Sport, Track, Drag Strip and My Mode.

The latter is also new to Mustang buyers who can select their own preferred settings for performance, driving dynamics and exhaust sound.

Other techno treats to be explored include Ford's SYNC 3 eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a nine-speaker sound system with DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, dual zone air conditioning and plenty more besides.

Our car featured a number of options that bumped the price up from £41,165 to £47,255. These included a Shaker Pro 12-speaker premium audio system, sat nav, Recaro seats and the impressive MagneRide adaptive suspension system (£1,600 extra) which offers better control across uneven road surfaces and improved traction on twisting country lanes.

As well as driving the Mustang at Santa Pod we took the car on an extensive road route that included plenty of long winding country lanes where it could be unleashed a little.

We were driving the V8 model with six-speed manual gearbox and it was a true thrill-seekers dream.

The road holding was ultra grippy and the steering beautifully precise so bends really could be attacked with confidence and it's on these types of roads where the new MagneRide set-up comes into its own offering improved body control.

The car is also deceptively agile and can easily weave through busy traffic, although extra care is necessary as the rather small windows limit all-round visibility a little.

Motorway driving is effortless and actually quite relaxed with surprisingly good comfort levels.

This is partly achieved thanks to six-way powered seats to help find the perfect driving position and that means long journeys can be completed without any moans and groans as you exit the car.

Boot space is okay too with a 408 litre capacity and there is a glovebox, door bins and convenient cubby holes scattered throughout the car.

It may seem that the Mustang is the perfect car with outstanding driving credentials and a booming exhaust and engine soundtrack to match, but it's not without its flaws.

For example, some of the switchgear feels a little flimsy and there is some hard plastic that rather lowers the standard a little.

Rear passenger space will be reserved for your worst enemies as it is so limited - but, in fairness to Ford, that is the case in most similarly designed cars.

Then, there is the running costs. Combined fuel economy was 22.7mpg, although in reality the figure will likely be below 20mpg and carbon emissions are high at 277g/km.

That will mean regular trips to the filling station where the pumps will need to be given a wide berth due to the length of the Mustang's doors.

Also, on a negative note, the Mustang scored poorly when it was tested for its Euro NCAP rating scoring just two out of a possible five stars, although Ford has introduced a raft of safety improvements to address that.

But at the end of the day, gripes aside, there are few cars that look and drive as well as the Ford Mustang and carry such an attractive price-tag. And for that reason sales are soaring.

There have been 6,000 Mustangs sold in the UK since its launch here in 2015 and the car in 5.0-litre guise was the top-selling V8 sports car in Britain last year.

Factor in more power, revised styling and improved handling and the Mustang's popularity is sure to increase even further.

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