When I was invited to check out the 2018 refresh of the Ford Mustang, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. I knew there’d be a few interior upgrades and the possibility of a slight power bump, but upon my arrival to Adelaide, South Australia — it’s really nice there — I found that Ford had a bit more fun than I was led to believe.
I spent my time ripping about as it poured down in a 2018 Mustang GT that was equipped with the MT-82 6-speed manual transmission and the revamped 5.0-litre with the GT Performance Package; so let’s start there.
A whopping 460-hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That’s what the new Coyote mill, with its increased compression ratio and port fuel injection with direct-injection now pumps out. It now utilises sixteen injectors instead of eight, which Ford says delivers a better fuel charge and thus, more power. For those not planning to run the curves you’ll be happy to know that a new 10-speed automatic with paddle shifting is also available. In fact, Ford is stating that this new car, when placed in Drag Mode (new for 2018) will hit 60-mph in under 4-seconds when properly equipped. That’s a fast time for any performance car, at any price.
When the current generation was released back in 2015, the big news about Mustang was the inclusion of an independent rear suspension for all models. And while some purists thought this would be a detriment to the Mustang brand, those with some insight knew that this was a must. Fast-forward to the 2018 refresh, where the suspension has now been further improved upon by getting some trickle down tech from Ford Performance by way of chassis tweaks and the MagnaRide Damping System, a system that has the ability to change its dampening force within a millisecond and thus, provide improved handling. Handling characteristics such as these are transforming the Mustang into a full-blown sports car and one that is capable of showing some high-dollar performers a thing or two on a racetrack.
But how does the new Mustang sound?
Incredible. Sound has always been an integral part of the Mustangs appeal. From the 5.0-litre Fox bodies in the 1980s, to the 4.6-litre fat Elvis cars of the 1990s, Ford has always managed to make the Mustang sound like… a Mustang. Starting in 2018, one can now equip their vehicle with an Active Valve Performance Exhaust system which not only allows an owner to control the rumble, but more importantly, one can now set a time for which the exhaust can fully uncork itself. Don’t want to wake your neighbours in the AM when you leave for work? No problem, simply think of this system like an alarm clock for your exhaust and you’ll get the idea.
Not to leave well enough alone, both the interior and exterior have been given some attention. Lovers of the Pony will notice a front hood line that sits 20mm lower than before, a new grille and revamped hood, along with a redesigned front fascia with aggressive callouts and LED lighting. Out back a cosmetic deck spoiler and new rear diffusor that houses quad exhaust ports give the Mustang a more muscular presence while at the same time rounding out the exterior refresh.
Climb inside and you’ll notice a host of improvements thanks to the use of updated materials. New soft-touch coverings, a new aluminium dash panel with inset gauges and seat trims with available contrasting stitching help to elevate the overall look and feel. Our test car was fitted with the optional Recaro seats that provided great lateral and lumbar support throughout our canyon drive. The biggest interior item however had to be the 12-inch digital instrument cluster that was configurable to the tune of three different layouts based on the vehicles driving mode (Normal, Sport, Track). It’s definitely a nice piece of kit, but truth be told, it does take away some of that analog feel that Mustang owners have come to know and love.
There is no question that this is the best consumer based Mustang that Ford has ever produced, special editions not withstanding. It’s got a monster of an engine; a suspension system that is far more competent than most drivers will ever be, an outstanding exhaust note and an array of tech that was supercar dynamite not more than ten years ago. But here’s the thing: Mustang owners, and I say this because I am one, like to tinker. We like to modify, experiment and sometimes improve upon these cars. Yet as good as this new 2018 refresh is (and it truly is), I’m left wondering if there will be a point where all this tech will limit us from being able to personalise our cars. Right now that doesn’t seem to be an issue, but as these cars evolve my hope is that the engineers and designers never lose sight of who, and more importantly, what we owners like most about these cars.
A version of this article originally appeared on Men's Health