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IT has taken some time but the American car that spawned a whole new segment more than 50 years ago is finally here.
The Ford Mustang is the original pony car, an affordable performance coupe with a sporty profile that combines a long bonnet with a short rear deck.
It debuted in 1964 and has only been available in left-hand-drive.
For the sixth-generation Mustang, Ford kindly decided to share this iconic model with the rest of the world by creating a right-hand-drive version.
As the first RHD Mustang available from the factory, it also comes with a smaller engine than usual. The 2.3-litre Ecoboost is the model's first four-cylinder unit and the only engine that is turbocharged. There is also a 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 which is available here, and an entry-level 3.7-litre V6 which is not.
The 2.3's generous 317 hp and 432 Nm are delivered to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, so even with a kerb weight just shy of 1,700 kg, zero to 100 kmh is a swift 5.5 seconds.
Despite its muscle car specifications though, the Mustang is a surprisingly smooth drive around town. Dual-stage coil springs with fixed dampers provide sufficient pliancy and comfort, and the ride does not get jiggly unless the road surface is unusually uneven.
There are four drive modes - normal, sport, track and snow/wet - and three power steering settings - normal, sport and comfort.
Like the stereotypical American car, the powertrain sounds lazy when the gearbox is left in D. But slot the lever into S and the Mustang wakes up. Flick the console-mounted switch to sport and it is further transformed. The turbocharged engine brims with torque and this grand tourer is raring to go. At a sizeable 4,784 mm long and 1,916 mm wide, it is not a small coupe, so the way it accumulates speed so quickly can be a visceral experience.
The suspension system consists of MacPherson struts in front and multi-links behind with state-of-the-art aerodynamics to keep things together at full pelt. A performance package is also standard for the Mustang from authorised distributor Regent Motors.
This upgraded version is immediately recognisable for its shiny black 19-inch alloys and includes fatter anti-roll bars, chassis tuning and a K-brace in the engine bay.
The rear limited slip differential also has a more aggressive drive ratio that allows the brawny Mustang to turn into a corner more enthusiastically and slingshot out.
But while the power and handling are breathtaking, the 2+2 cabin is a little less so. It looks premium enough with all the necessary appointments such as leather, electric front seats, keyless access and ignition, centre touchscreen and reverse camera. But the chrome trim looks faux and the switches are plasticky.
As if to make up for that though, the Mustang's multi-function display includes a fantastic menu dedicated to the boy racer. The wealth of track and engine info available is amazing, from the usual accelerometer and lap timer, to acceleration (for various speeds and distances) and brake performance, among others.
As for the gauges, apart from common details such as oil pressure, oil temperature and boost pressure, there are also inlet air temperature, cylinder head temperature and air/fuel ratio readings.
Some of the kit may be a bit quirky but it just reinforces the image of the Mustang as a very special car with loads of character. Some German grand tourers may be more refined, but they either have less oomph or cost more. Best off all, you're not likely to find this pony car on every street corner.
Ford Mustang 2.3 Coupe
Engine: 2,261cc inline-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic transmission
Max power: 317 hp@5,700 rpm
Max torque: 432 Nm@3,000 rpm
0-100 kmh: 5.5 secs
Top speed: 250 kmh
CO2 emissions: 225 g/km
Average OMV: S$43,000
Price: S$255,888 (with COE)
Distributor: Regent Motors