21 Feb 2013

Ford Mustang euro style - Is it really what we want?

Sharon Endacotte greets the news that the Ford Mustang is coming to the UK and Europe, RHD and with a 2 litre ecoboost engine, with...well you'll have to read to find out.

I understand it, I do.   I really, really do.

But I don’t like it.

I always said I fancied a Ford Mustang as my midlife crisis car. Cheap, crude, noisy, thirsty, but good looking in a thickset, chunky way… quite a lot like me really. Unlike many of my other options, the seats in a modern Mustang are capacious enough to accommodate my ample bottom in comfort, and there’s just something about them that make me smile. A Mustang in the UK is an anachronism, a thumping American beat in the heart of the English countryside, utterly wrong and yet all the more loveable for it.

So when rumours started to circulate yet again that the Mustang was going to officially go on sale in the UK, I was pleased. When it became apparent that they were aiming at the 2014 platform, I thought, well, that’s a year late for my midlife crisis, but not to worry, I’ll just stay 38 for a bit longer. As it happens, there’s a bit of a recession on at the moment anyway, so it’s not like I can afford one anyway just now. It’ll all work out.

And then Ford said that while big muscular V8s are all well and good for America, the land of cheese and inexpensive gasoline, people in other markets might want something a bit more… frugal.

Frugal?! Have they SEEN the Mustang???

The range of engines is to be a 5 litre V8, a 3.7 litre V6… and a four cylinder, two litre Ecoboost.

A two litre Ecoboost? That’s like having your midlife crisis in a Mondeo.

That would be fine if we were getting a choice in the matter, but a bit of poking around in the press releases and muscle car fora suggests that we won’t, because America thinks that Europeans don’t like big V engines, apparently. I know there’s a global economic crisis, I know European fuel costs are much higher than in America, but even so… that’s just not right. Europe is the home of the quad turbo W16, for goodness sake.

I’m kind of torn on the issue of an official right hand drive version too, if I’m honest. I know it’s all part of the deal if it’s an official UK version, and again, I totally get it, but I don’t know… it’s just not very American, is it? I’m going to have to (to borrow a phrase from Nissan), shift expectations I think. The only problem is I’m not sure I want to.

The American Dream has always run like this: I get into my Mustang on the right side, which is to say the left side, I settle into the big leather armchair of a driver’s seat, start the car and listen, smiling, as that big V8 idles, grumbling and chewing through great lumps of petrol while sounding like it should be chewing on coal and rocks. I slip it into gear, put my foot down and roar away, growling, snarling, foaming with effort like the wild horse it was born to be.

But now, not so much.

I get into my Mustang on the wrong side, which is to say the right side, I settle into the Euro-spec interior, start the car, listen and try to make out the sound of it idling against the background noise as it sips delicately from its tank with its little finger sticking out. I slip it into gear, put my foot down and drive away feeling a bit like Widow Twankey in search of Aladdin – I’m all dressed up, but where’s the drama?

Because there’s the problem right there: it might look like a Mustang, but under the skin, it’s a bit of a pantomime horse.