2017 Ford Mustang GT
2017 Ford Mustang GT

THE first rule of Pony Club is; wave. The second rule of Pony Club is; wave back when other Mustang owners wave to you. Who knew Pony Club was even a thing amongst owners of the benchmark Ford coupe, but it most definitely is.

Not being actual Ford Mustang owners, we didn’t know about this thing we’ve decided to call Pony Club, whereby if you see another Ford Mustang of any kind, you wave to the owner, and they wave back.

Even when pulling out of a side street at pace to get into some traffic, a vintage Mustang owner coming the other way still managed a hand out the window to give us a wave to say hi to a fellow Pony driver.

That’s car culture at its finest, right there. We drove the 2017 Ford Mustang GT and EcoBoost models over a two week period and found ourselves infinitely happy every time this little Pony Club event happened.

There’s something special about being part of that car culture, even for a short period that makes you feel proud to be driving a Mustang. It was up there with the coolest things about our time with the two American Ford offerings.

Two engine options are available in the Mustang, a 306kW 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 petrol power plant that pushes out 530Nm of torque in all its throaty, noisy glory, or the much more subdued but still very capable EcoBoost 4-cylinder.

Now that you’ve stopped breathing at the thought of a 4-cylinder Pony, panic not, because the 2.3-litre in-line four is loaded with a turbo charger to ensure a respectable 233kW of power and 432Nm of torque.

It’s also by far and away the more economical option of the two, with the EcoBoost managing a solid 9.5-litres/100km during our testing (Ford claims 9.3 for the auto variant we drove).

On the other hand, the V8 struggled to get below 13.0-litres/100km in anything other than standard domestic driving, although we did manage to get it down to 12.7 on some longer drives (Ford claims 12.6).

At this point, just on engine and fuel numbers, and given that save for some minor differences both cars have the same interior and exterior; if you are considering a Mustang for the look and style, buy the EcoBoost.

If it’s grunt and noise, and that true Pony pedigree you seek, then grab the V8 instead. In all honesty they’re both great fun to drive, especially in a straight line, both draw attention, and both look the part.

As for those differences, they are as simple as this; the EcoBoost has a 59-litre tank and direct injection, while the GT has a 61-litre fuel tank, and delivers juice via sequential multiport electronic injection.

The other differences between the two model variants are visual, and amount to different exhaust pipes out the back, and smaller front brake rotors. Externally both models get the same black 19-inch rims and cool Pony night lights from the bottom of the mirrors.

They also share daytime running lights, HID auto headlights, LED tail lamps, fog lamps, and the motor sport inspired cap less fuel filler. Mirrors are heated and colour-keyed, and both have a rear diffuser and rain sensing wipers.

Inside, there’s a classically styled three spoke steering wheel with centre horn button that screams Mustang history, and aluminium foot pedals, two cup holders, illuminated scuff pads and dual zone climate control.

It’s also got cruise control, dynamic stability control, and heated and cooled power front seats, although the bark rest is manual, a rear view camera, tyre pressure monitoring, SatNav, key-less entry and push button start/stop.

The downsides to the Mustang include what is in essence a pretty basic interior for the money, and for the kind of dollars Ford is asking, you’d expect better quality. There are way too many buttons and their styling is mixed, to the point of feeling disjointed.

The infotainment system works but feels complicated and outdated, and there’s a lot of chrome, like too much of it. The rear seats, like many coupes, offer a glorified parcel shelf, but without the joy of a centre rear seat to at least alleviate some of that burden.

Sports mode in the auto is ordinary too, and while it sounds better in both model variants it feels a little all over the shop, not unlike the car’s handling characteristics, which includes a good helping of body roll.

Despite turning into corners quite well, better than we thought it would, it feels lazy and a real loafer, riding high in the suspension travel, like it’s been forced there, particularly in the V8 variant, which is 90kg heaver than the EcoBoost.

For the non-V8 model, that translates into a much more comfortable driving experience by comparison; although still far from perfect, and in both cases, the turning circle is poor for a rear wheel drive two-door.

Locally, the Mustang models include stiffer front springs, a thicker rear sway bar, extra bracing and a limited-slip diff, all of which helps with local road conditions, but it still feels like it’s trying a little too hard.

The 2017 Ford Mustang will remain on sale in Australia until the arrival of the 2018 edition of the popular American muscle car, mid-year. The new model will bring with it significant safety improvements.

The current spec Ford Mustang has a 2-star ANCAP safety rating, with its poor safety rating coming from a lack of autonomous emergency braking and lane support systems, and no speed assistance system. It was also pinged for poor whiplash protection.

Additionally, there’s no advanced seat belt warning system for the back seats. It does however come with eight airbags for the driver and front passenger as standard, along with advanced seat belt reminders for the front seats.

The 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost hits the road at $50,176 drive-away, while the Gt takes to the road at $62,251, again, drive-away. Prices are for the 6-speed manual transmission, with the 6-speed auto adding $2,652 to the purchase price.

It’s available in Oxford White, Race Red (our GT test colour), Grabber Blue (our EcoBoost test colour), Lightning Blue, White Platinum and Ingot Silver, Magnetic, Shadow Black, Ruby Red and Triple Yellow.

Our 2017 Ford Mustang GT and 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost were supplied by Ford Australia. To find out more, contact your local Ford dealership. Mustang GT pictures courtesy of CMC Photography.

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