Mustang Hits Mach 2

Next Mustang scores power, handling, and safety updates

A LOUDER active exhaust, adaptive suspension, 10-speed automatic, digital LCD instruments plus a smattering of active safety technology have all been tossed into the stable of the Ford Mustang – and all appear to address issues we’ve had with the sporty US staple.

The addition of driver aids to the 2018 Mustang will help address safety concerns the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) brought to light following its twostar performance (see sidebar), but the updated model won’t arrive here until mid-next year.

Little needed to change outside the hugely popular coupe, but a number of revisions were made: a lower bonnet, narrower headlights (which look more like squinted eyes and debut all-LED globes) and a tweaked rear fascia with quad exhaust pipes for the V8 are it.

New aluminium finishes, stitched-leather lower trim and a 12.0-inch LCD driver display improve the Michigan-made model’s cabin.

Under the new bonnet, the 2.3- litre turbo four EcoBoost adds a transient-overboost mode (like the 1.6-litre EcoBoost in the Fiesta ST) to briefly boost outputs beyond the current 233kW/432Nm; while the 5.0-litre V8 scores dualinjection tech to liberate more than the current 306kW/530Nm.

Disappointingly, though, Ford is hush on the new numbers.

Automatic models will sprint quicker to 100km/h thanks to the addition of a new 10-speed automatic unit, but the six-cog manual (tweaked with a dualmass flywheel on V8 to cope with ;

extra torque and improve clutch response) thankfully remains the standard pick.

“Compared to the previous six-speed, the new 10-speed transmission has quicker shift times, better low-speed tip-in response and significantly reduced friction losses,” Ford said in a released statement.

“The all-new electronic control system includes unique tunes for different drive modes and features real-time adaptive shift scheduling to ensure the right gear at the right time,” it continued.

Steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters are a first, while the already sweet-sounding V8 will debut a throatier tone when equipped with an “active valve” sports exhaust. It allows drivers to adjust it on the run to deliver “an audible experience like never before, with a fully variable soundtrack to match the entire acceleration range.” b respon release differen tim ensu i Steer paddle alre deb equipp e adju aud b soundt acceler The standard suspension has copped revised damping “for better ride control”, a new cross-axis joint at the rear for added lateral stiffness, and new stabilisers.

However, a Mustang Performance Package option will add MagneRide multi-mode adaptive suspension tech to the chassis – another Mustang first – similar to the dampers found in a Holden Commodore Motorsport Edition/ Director and VE/VF HSVs. Although Comfort and Sport modes are expected, Ford has not specified how many modes it will offer.

Prices are tipped to remain on par with the current $44,990-to- $66,205 coupe and convertible range when the 2018 Mustang arrives within 18 months. The Yank two-door has been a runaway success in Australia, notching up 6208 sales in 2016 and outselling by a factor of three the Toyota 86 (2068 units) to become the top selling sports car nationwide. – DD

’STANG’S SHOCK 2-STAR RATING

AUSTRALIAN media fell into hysterics this month when ANCAP awarded the Ford Mustang just two stars out of a maximum five. The ’Stang was slammed for slow-deploying airbags that allowed dummies’ heads to impact the dashboard, and some body deformation – but it still scored four stars in the frontal crash.

Its score tanked primarily because it lacked autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keep assistance, both of which are added to the 2018 model. “This rating is not intended to shock or surprise – it simply presents the safety of this car against that of its contemporary competitors,” ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin said. But Ford believes it was treated unfairly given no other four-seat coupe has been critiqued in the same way. “Mustang delivered a four-star result for the front occupants [but] the two-star result in the Active Safety Assist pillar determined the overall result of a two-star rating,” the company said.