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2018 Ford Mustang GT SelectShift review: Guilty pleasure

The mid-cycle facelift made the V8-powered Mustang even more desirable, with added horsepower and user-friendliness

Overall Score
80 / 100

Ford bringing the Mustang in Europe, in 2015, was one of the best gifts from across the pond in a very long time. Moreover, not only it was available to the Old Continent but was also shaped to meet the Europeans’ needs and demands.

It showed not only refined body lines (good looks overall) but also boasted a turbocharged four-pot engine (Europe’s definitive superstar); and, thanks to the independent rear suspension, you could even drive it on twisty B-roads. It was a hit in every chart, except Euro NCAP’s safety ratings, where it scored a mere two stars out of a total of five.

But the 2018 refresh operation is set to right the wrongs, and to make the good bits better. The safety equipment list was added adaptive cruise control feature, emergency brake assists, along with pre-collision assist, pedestrian recognition, and lane keep assist, Ford hoping all these “will contribute towards an improved Euro NCAP safety rating.” They definitely should. The car’s aesthetics have barely changed while the body color and rim design choices have been broadened with some fresh stuff.

One of the most important news regards Mustang’s drivetrain: the strong naturally aspirated V8 unit got a bit stronger (while the EcoBoost dropped some hp), and the outdated six-speed automatic has been replaced by a 10-speed ‘box. Yes, ten. Oh, and let’s not forget about the new magnetorheological (hope we spelled it correctly) adaptive damping system which helps the car adapt to the driver’s needs at the push of a button.

We flew to Nice, France, to test out the refreshed ‘Stang and see for ourselves how much the American muscle car experience has been altered via all these changes.

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IN BRIEF
  • Recommended for:
    driving nuts
    young and single
  • Created for:
    winding roads
  • Hats off for:
    road handling
    engine power
  • Bang for the buck:
    fabulous


Drive
Powertrain
9 / 10
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Gather ten people in a room and ask them which powertrain setup they consider as better — the V8, or the 2.3-liter EcoBoost — for the Mustang and they’ll most probably end fighting each other. Heck, if I ask myself the same question I might just end up punching myself as well. The truth is there’s no right answer.
Both are doing great in their department, and none of these choices are making the car less... Mustang-y. Drive the V8, make it roar, and you’ll never wish for anything else — although it's not as savage as a turbocharged unit, or as powerful. Still, switch to the 2.3-liter unit and you’ll realize the V8 is a bit of an overkill actually.
While the vee-eight was added about 25 hp (for a total of 450 Euro horsies) the 2.3-liter EcoBoost was detuned to 290 hp (from 317). However, courtesy of the new 10-speed SelectShift ‘box, the EcoBoost’s performance ratings weren’t affected — on the contrary, it's improved in every aspect.


Handling
9 / 10
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Our test drive sessions were carried in two very different contexts: one day bathed in sunlight (and V8 noises) and one reminding of the biblical Great Flood. The first-day drive was hardly a “drive” but rather a constant rush, accompanied by V8 roar.

Our testers had the optional MagneRide adaptive damping system on — which, in Track Mode, cuts the body roll to a considerable extent. And does even more: for example, in Drag mode (yes, it has such thing now) it’ll tune the front and rear axle for maximum rear axle deployment. At €2,000 the MagneRide is worth every penny for the track day lovers and thrill seekers.

As for the road manners, the engine choice duality remains: the 2.3-liter sheds some good kilos off the front axle, making the 4.7-meter long ‘Stang feel more composed in corners. The V8, on the other hand, is heavy and prone to understeer and, if you’re not dosing the accelerator properly, the tail will eventually go sideways, after defeating the 275-mm wide Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

The steering feels heavy (especially in Sport+/Track modes) but not necessarily connected to the wheels, and we’re not sure if this is annoying at Mustang, or if we’re annoying asking perfection from an already pretty good vehicular setup.


Safety
7 / 10
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Just like with the modern men, Mustang’s manliness means zero if it can’t provide safety — in the relationship with Euro NCAP car safety performance assessment programme, it actually meant two stingy stars (out of five). A reassessment has been requested, following Mustang’s array of new safety features for the 2017MY such as the lane-keeping warning system, the automatic emergency braking, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.

All these efforts were repaid with an extra star, Euro NCAP decided following the last year’s crash tests. The area where the Mustang is penalized the most is the child occupant’s safety. The facelifted version debuts with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and forward collision warning. No ISOFIX, so no better child occupant safety rating, thus no more stars. A whole bunch of people didn’t want to care about this when they bought the car.

Interior
Comfort
8 / 10
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By opting for the optional MagneRide adaptive damping system, you can have the Mustang you wish at the flip of a switch. By default, the ‘Stang is made for cruising, so it won’t break your back "because racecar."

The front seats (especially if they are the Recaro extras) are well bolstered to keep your upper body vertical while fighting lateral Gs, also providing the comfort level needed for medium to long trips. Safety features such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist are making long trips even comfier, although the later isn’t less creepy to work with than in other cars.

If you're sitting in front, you can indulge in all the amenities of a modern car: the leather-covered seats feature power controls, heating and even ventilation (the latter being a €600 extra). Good enough for long-distance cruises. If you're sitting in the back, you're either savagely punished, or not a human being — not mutually exclusive scenarios, to make it clear.


Quality
6 / 10
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Ford’s “contemporary interior” that can be seen in the Mustang is behind Europe’s finest by a long shot. Ford manages to tick all the materials one would expect from a premium interior but the way these are combined doesn’t make for a fortunate experiment.

In key areas, you can find good plastics in most cases, and leather stripes (along with carbon inserts even, if you're willing to pay extra) but then there are the flip controls, below the ones in charge with the air-con system, that look and feel like some AliExpress throw-outs. The biggest problem? No matter how much you're cladding the cabin with Alcantara upholstery or carbon-fiber inserts, those damn scratchy plastic bits will still be there.


Practicality
7 / 10
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This probably won’t come as a surprise, but Mustang’s 2+2 array is rather a nomenclatural protocol, the rear seats being virtually useless for anything other than your handbag. Moving to the rear end, the coupé’s 408-liter large cargo space is still one of the segment’s smallest so plan your shopping list carefully. Extra voluminous stuff (which no normal people operates using a Mustang) won't be fitted easily in the car due to the high and narrow boot lip.

The rear bench doesn't boast any modularity so you won't be able to push your skis through a special hatch. And if you opt for the €1,200 optional audio system, you'll also get a subwoofer in one of the boot's walls, narrowing it.


Infotainment
8 / 10
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The Mustang gets a bit of Ford GT (the supercar) in the form of a 12-inch wide virtual instrument cluster with interchangeable graphics. There are three different setups depending on what driving mode you put the car in — with one of them a good-looking reminder of the Mustangs of the past. The graphics quality is more than decent, and the vastity of info shown here renders the 8-inch central display a bit useless now.

About the central console touchscreen we’ll say it’s “enough,” as in it didn’t impress us in any way (getting around it isn’t always intuitive, and the visuals seem a bit outdated) but it performed all the actions without any lag, so at least it won't annoy you.

Budget
Efficiency
7 / 10
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Thanks to the updated fuel injection system, Mustang’s V8 lump now settles for a mere 12.1 l/100 km (19 mpg US, 23 mpg UK), Ford claims, 0.3 l/100 km less than before. It’s safe to say it’s not frugal — and, in all honesty, this fuel efficiency rating is not easy to achieve in the real world. But it's a 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated thing of joy, fuel economy is not on its priority list.

The turbocharged four-pot alternative will ask less of you (9.0 l/100 km) but won’t live up to the V8’s splendor and power delivery. As for just how quick will the 61-liter gas tank will deplete under a heavy foot’s command, we did it in less than 100 miles of beautiful public French B-roads. We regret nothing.


Equipment
9 / 10
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The Mustang GT’s optional feature list leaves little room for upgrades, most of the equipment already being given as standard — which renders the ‘Stang as a straightforward, honest car when it comes to its price tag.

The most expensive extra would be the €2,500 10-speed SelectShift automatic ‘box, followed by the €2,000 MagneRide adaptive damper system. Tick all the available extras and you'll still have an enormous margin over the segment's V8-powered rivals.

The Mustang might not have as much to offer as Europe's finest but it has enough to make you feel satisfied.


Acquisition
10 / 10
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When it comes to price tags, the Mustang triumphs over European rivals with the most appealing one. At €51,700, Ford offers you a raw V8 at the price of a European turbocharged V6 or even a force-fed four-pot.

For the affordable thrills, the Mustang GT offers the biggest bang for the buck in the whole Old Continent. True to its form, the Mustang conquers the world with its natural approach: no glitter, no affectation, just power to keep that smile on your face. We reckon it’s 100% effective.

Although the V8 coupé is the poster car, the turbocharged four-pot (in a cabrio body, eventually) is the bestseller, the best compromise you'll find in the Mustang lineup. The American pony-car we've all grown up with makes efforts to comply to our demanding needs without giving up on what made it so special: disengagement.

Consequently, it gets penalized by our rigorous testing standards, but really the Mustang is more than numbers.

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