Thursday 14 December 2017

Mustang fits the Bill for Ford -- but how will Europe take to this US icon?

Eddie Cunningham reports on a trio of rollouts from Ford: the Mustang, Ka concept and Edge concept

Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

BILL Ford -- that's Corkman Henry's great grandson -- talked the good talk on stage as they readied to unfurl the new Mustang, Ka concept and Edge SUV concept for us.

FORD MUSTANG

A few hours later as he and I chatted in front of that blaring red Mustang he could not hide an almost child-like hankering to get behind the wheel of the American icon that's coming to Europe for the first time.

He's a big Shamrock Rovers fan and loves Fulham's home ground, Craven Cottage, in the Premier League.

He asked my opinion of Mustang's looks, was upbeat about the European (and by extension Irish economy) and . . . the Mustang.

A man of disparate tastes and, it must be remembered, a man at the wheel of a motoring giant that is only now turning the corner financially. He knows a sports car is not going to swell the coffers over here but the Mustang stands for more than that. This is about perception and the 'halo' effect of having such a car in your ranks.

It is, after all, the affordable muscle car (I'll leave the interpretation of affordable to you); the ones Americans love (9 million have bought one in the past 50 years); the car that has been described as the blue collar worker's dream machine.

We will get the 5-litre V8 425bhp Mustang but -- more importantly -- the 2.3-litre (projected 304bhp) EcoBoost version will be easier on the pocket.

Built at Ford's Flat Rock plant in Michigan, it will come here in 2015.

Critically, it will be sold by a select number of dealers who will also be catering for the brand's upmarket Vignale versions of the new Mondeo.

All I can say is the Mustang must have something because as they rolled it out even I felt this was a bit special. God forgive me, but even static it has energy about it.

It's the mix of the low crescent roofline in the middle of that muscle and breadth. The convertible doesn't look nearly as good at all. I didn't tell Bill that.

That 5-litre engine growls -- well it did as they drove it up on to its podium.

Imagine what I'd do with it on the road.

I'd be toggling those Selectable Drive Modes switches on the console to adjust steering effort, engine response, and transmission settings to get everything from this. On looks alone it begs to be driven. Hard.

It will be so interesting to see how the new suspension systems work out, especially how the independent rear one goes down with the purists and drivers. The front structure gets a perimeter subframe to stiffen things up.

Standard wheels will be 19ins but no one will blame you for going bigger.

Yea, sure, it has all those driver-assist thingies such as SYNC with voice control and touchscreen sat nav (8ins central colour screen) and 12 speakers. But I think I'd just be sensing the power and the pace.

However, I wouldn't be thinking of carrying six-footers in the rear. Despite better shoulder and hip room, it looked a bit tight. Boot space can take two golf bags.

No prices yet but surely the larger-engined petrol versions of the BMW 4-series must be a target for the 2.3-litre EcoBoost? Say €55,000-plus?

Pure speculation, but what the hell?

Who is it for? Well, Ford people are suggesting it is a 'move-up' motor for those driving ST versions of the Fiesta of Focus -- they're fast.

We'll see. We'll have to wait til 2015 anyway.

I really did like the look of it -- big, strong, muscular but not overly stretched. It has the same wheelbase as the current model but is 38mm lower and 40mm wider. And it has to be in red.

I know it has appeared in innumerable film, television, music and video games but I think it has to be red.

The Mustang is one of 25 new vehicles Ford will unveil in Europe over the next five years. I seriously doubt any will look or drive like this. If they do I don't know how Bill will contain himself.

KA CONCEPT

Earlier they showed us the new Ka concept. Another world car, it is, unlike the current model, a 5dr economy motor for people getting started.

It looks what it is, a neatly designed and constructed small car. There is a huge market out there for cars like this in South America, India and, dare I say it, Ireland? Just look at how well Dacia's cut-price models have done.

Numbers buying this sort of car are projected to soar from four million to 6.2 million by 2017.

It is small inside and no way will it seat five adults as claimed -- I think they mean two adults and three children.

Again, all the latest connectivity stuff will be available on it such as the special dock that lets you store, mount and charge mobile devices (phones, sat-nav, SYNC and AppLink).

Designed and built in Brazil, where it was unveiled last month, it is based on the brand's global B platform. That's the same one used for the Fiesta, but obviously the Ka will cost less.

EDGE CONCEPT

This is a new big SUV due to arrive here in 2017.

Think of it being the biggest of Ford's crossovers with the Kuga below it and the March-arrival EcoSport the smallest.

It's big and has great cabin room but the part I liked most was the front. Really in-your-face.

Buyers of SUVs/crossovers are expected to increase by 22pc in Europe between now and 2018. No wonder Bill was all smiles.

Irish Independent

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