THE MUSCLE CAR was an utterly unique and alluring phase in the mid-point of the gas-powered automobile’s lifecycle – a fitting, blue collar response to Europe’s growing automotive imperiousness. Fast, powerful, front-engined V8s weren’t uncommon, but the Americans practically patented the concept and the world proved inadequate to the task of replicating good, old-fashioned American muscle. And when you think American muscle, you think of the Ford Mustang.
There are few automotive sub-brands as powerful as the Mustang. It’s the largest selling sports coupe in automotive history, having been in continuous production since 1964, having starred alongside Hollywood’s finest and having secured a spot on the wish-lists of customers across the globe without ever having gone fully global. Until now, that is. The 2015 Ford Mustang GT has arrived in India – this time with its steering wheel on the right side.
So does the new Mustang still embody the original set of values that made muscle cars such a raging phenomenon? Is it still about affordable performance and unmistakably classic styling cues? It certainly looks like it. The new Mustang is the closest homage to the original Mustang I’ve seen in recent years. It’s a finely blended mesh of neo-retro design cues, with a shredded midriff and an imposing, swooping bonnet that can’t be mistaken for anythin but muscle. Compared to its two chief rivals – the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro (neither of which are sold here) – the new Mustang looks more compact and a tad Europeanised, in order to cater to a wider demographic.
What we like
The fact that Ford decided not to muck about and brought only the most powerful Mustang variant into the country
What we don’t
That it doesn’t have a manual gearbox option
Though it’s brutish charm may appear to be gentrified by the coupé-like rear and its comparatively restrained musculature, it’s no shrinking violet – not with a 5-litre, naturally aspirated V8 under the hood. The insides also have a whiff of classic muscle car – it’s contemporised by a touch-screen infotainment unit and lots of buttons on the steering, but there are bold vertical lines in here that keep things strictly business – it’s quite a break from the rather fastidiously detailed luxury coupe cabins.
Before we begin to scrutinise the Mustang’s driving attributes, be aware that it is a blunt instrument, and that’s how its makers intended it to be. And yet I found myself barrelling down the swooping curves of the Buddh International Circuit in Delhi, on a sunny afternoon, with the Ford flexing its considerable muscles. The engine sounds a bit subdued, though the acceleration is anything but – it’s raw and it hungrily eats up the tarmac with the eagerness befitting a muscle car.
Sadly, we only get the six-speed automatic version, which brings with it a certain amount of transmission lag that marginally diminishes the appeal of the car’s easily accessible performance. The Mustang may not be a finely honed athlete, but it’s no lumberjack either – its chassis isn’t impervious to G-forces, but there’s no reason you can’t thrash it about a race track when you want to – the brakes hold out pretty well too.
There’s no doubt that the Mustang is going to be a relatively common sight on Indian roads. Simply put, there’s no performance car in India which boasts of nearly 400 bhp of power and 52 kgm of torque and costs Rs 65 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi). The Mustang looks, sounds and goes extremely fast, and that usually catapults the price into the Rs 1 crore range. Although it can be upstaged on the track by other cars, the Mustang should prove to be delightful company on the open road.