2016 Ford Mustang: the American icon muscles in on the UK to make you smile

Yee-haw! The Mustang is now right-hand drive

I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the new 2016 Ford Mustang.

I've been a fan of the iconic Ford Mustang for a long time, but living in the UK has always posed a problem. Ford's iconic muscle car hasn't been readily available, and imports are solely left-hand drive – which gets pretty tiring on Britain's roads.

That is, until now. Ford has finally given UK-based muscle car fans what they've been dreaming of: a right-hand drive Mustang.

It's available in two engine models. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost starts at £30,995, but if you're after a true all-American motor there's only one engine you'll want: the 5.0-litre V8. The model packing this beast starts at £34,995, which is still rather affordable for what is a very solid sports car.

I jumped behind the wheel of the 5.0-litre V8 Mustang – and boy is it enjoyable.

2016 Ford Mustang

Muscle-bound

The Ford Mustang sports your classic muscle car stance: it's wide, long and low. When you look at the car you can't help but smile. People in the street will stop and stare. It may not be a Ferrari or a Porsche, but it does make you feel just a bit special.

The large grille at the front and angular light blocks give it a mean expression, and that theme continues all the way round to the back, where the dual exhaust pipes and rear diffuser complete the look.

Climb inside the Mustang and it feels even longer than it looks from the outside – the imposing bonnet stares right back at you, and stretches ahead of you into the distance.

2016 Ford Mustang

Glance in the wing mirrors and the Mustang's child-bearing hips remind you that the oversized wheel arches ensure there's an awful lot of width at the rear.

Look over your shoulder and there are two rear bucket seats for passengers. To squeeze a couple of adults in the back, however, the front seats had to be brought forward further than I'd like, and my passengers weren't keen on staying put longer than the hour-long drive we went on.

If you have children they'll fit nicely into the rear of the Mustang, and there are ISOFIX points on both seats so that you can attach child seats – although when the kids hit their mid-teens, the novelty of being the back of the 'Stang may fade a little.

Open up the Mustang's boot – which you can do by doubling-pressing the button on the key fob – and you'll find a surprisingly spacious storage area. I was able to fit two large flight cases, a carry-on flight case, a shoulder bag and a small supermarket shop into it.

Initially the Mustang feels big on the road, and it takes a little while to adjust – especially if you're used to European coupes. Get a few miles under your belt, though, and everything starts to feel more natural.

2016 Ford Mustang

Drive and performance

The ride in Mustangs has never been the best. Hard suspension and heavy steering is part of the parcel when you opt for a muscle car, and while the new Mustang has power steering and various other mod-cons, it can be a little taxing to manoeuvre at times.

It's not the most forgiving over bumps and rough road surfaces, but it's far from uncomfortable – and all is forgiven when you plant your right foot on the accelerator, and the V8 gurgles with appreciation as it transports you from 0 to 62mph in 4.8 seconds.

It'll take you all the way to 155mph via the 6-speed gearbox if you so wish, but you might want to wait until you're on a track – or an autobahn – before testing its upper limits.

2016 Ford Mustang

Opt for the V8 Mustang and you'll be guzzling through fuel at a rate of knots. You're looking at around 14 miles to the gallon, and if you push it that'll get closer to 13mpg. The eco-boost engine offers better fuel consumption of course – but again, this is a Mustang, and it really wants a V8 at its heart.

There are a variety of track settings in the menu systems if you do fancy taking them for a spin, with Launch Control (getting you off the line promptly), Electronic Line Lock (if you want to smoke the rear tires) and others waiting for you.

Around town the Mustang is perfectly usable. It may not be as comfortable as a dinky hatchback, or as easy to slide into a supermarket parking bay, but it doesn't feel out of place.

Tech fest

The Mustang comes well equipped in the tech department, and the inclusion of a rear-facing reversing camera (an optional extra) with sensors is especially useful when it comes to parking.

An 8-inch touchscreen inside the cabin provides you with the visuals from that rear camera, as well as giving you control over the infotainment system and sat nav.

The infotainment comes courtesy of Ford's Sync 2 platform, which gives you access to digital radio, and Bluetooth connectivity for your phone for streaming music; Sync 2 can also handle voice calls and text messages.

You can choose whether it displays a text message on screen, or reads it out to you - the latter of which is more fun. You can even speak a response if you want to return a quick missive.

This lets you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, although the implementation still feels a little rudimentary.

2016 Ford Mustang

The sat nav is serviceable, but I still find the offering on my smartphone easier, faster and clearer. If Ford puts its Sync 3 software (with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) into its next Mustang it will vastly improve the in-car entertainment, and the synergy between phone and vehicle.

Climate control is included, as is Ford's own MyColour ambient lighting system. This sees areas such as the foot wells, door pockets and cup holders all subtly illuminated in the colour of your choice at night.

The mood lighting adds an extra layer of style to the cabin, which is a mix of leather and plastic – the latter may not be the most premium of materials, but it's still functional.

2016 Ford Mustang

Quick verdict

If you're looking for a performance car that will turn heads without blowing your budget, the Mustang delivers in spades.

This is a car that won't fail to make you smile. It's great fun to drive and it looks great – and you're unlikely to see too many others when you're out on the open road.

The rear seats aren't great for adults, the steering is on the heavy side, the ride is a little stiff, and the V8 isn't exactly fuel-efficient – but as soon as you get behind the wheel, none of that seems to matter.

Push the ignition button, listen to the roar of the V8 springing to life, and you'll instantly have a grin on your face that will stay there for the entire journey.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones, Tablets and Wearables UK Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and wearables. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week, John hasn't looked back since.