Ford has made many changes to the Mustang for this year, but there’s one that’s particularly successful.  So successful, in fact, that I’d almost irretrievably fallen in love with it the second I pressed the start button.

It’s the noise.  Because now the Mustang sounds exactly like a Mustang should.

Last year’s car sounded good, of course, but it was rather subdued.  This new Mustang, however, sounds like a proper ‘60s muscle car from its characteristic woofle-down-a-drainpipe idle all the way to its hard-edged, saw-tooth 6,500rpm crescendo.

This new Mustang sounds like a proper ’60s muscle car now

It even barks into life the way a muscle car should, although if you live next door to a delicate curtain-twitcher, a Good Neighbour mode closes the exhaust valve during pre-defined times of day.

It’s not just the exhaust that’s had a few tweaks – the 5.0-litre V8 now produces 450ps, up from 421ps, while torque of 529Nm is now a little further up the range at 4,600rpm.  Below that it’s still surprisingly lethargic, and anyone expecting a torque-laden bottom-end and a short-shifting character might find it a little underwhelming to begin with.  However, show it some commitment and the rewards start to reveal themselves.

That applies elsewhere, too.  The six-speed manual’s stubby lever needs a hearty shove across its short-travel gate, the brakes have prodigious initial bite but need a determined hoof to deliver much more, while the steering is almost wilful in its heaviness.

But this is all just as it should be, because man-handling a Mustang down a British B-road is a deeply satisfying experience, made only more rewarding by revisions to the suspension aimed at tying both ends down to the tarmac.

man-handling a Mustang down a B-road is deeply satisfying

If you’re looking for an easier life there’s a new 10-speed auto lifted out of the Raptor pick-up, although to our mind it’s bestowed with at least four too many ratios, while a 2.3-litre turbo offers 290ps (down from 317ps) and, frankly, too few cylinders by half.

To make up for lost time the new Mustang has more kit than ever before, starting with an optional MagneRide system that alters damper settings 1,000 times a second, plus a slew of electro-safety gizmos such as pre-collision assist, adaptive cruise control, distance alert, lane departure warning and lane keeping aid, all aimed at improving the car’s Euro NCAP score.

In the cabin, there’s a new 12-inch digital instrument cluster with a choice of display set-ups depending on drive mode, the choice of which now includes Drag Strip Mode for a blistering standing start and My Mode which allows drivers to select their own mix of settings.

Ford say they’ve increased the quality of some of the cabin materials although it’s a shame the handbrake hasn’t been relocated for right-hand-drive cars, while the exterior has a sharper, angrier look to the front end.  Oh, and it’s great to see Ford has finally used the in-headlight gills for the running lights, although we still have to put up with clear tri-bar tail-light lenses instead of the proper red ones.

While these changes might not sound particularly ground-breaking by themselves, the combined effect is far greater – the evolution of a formula Ford has been refining over the last 54 years, one that over 33,000 Europeans have fallen for since the new Mustang was introduced.

This new model feels like the car Ford were aiming for all along.  The phrase I kept coming back to while behind the wheel was “now with added Mustang!”

You need only thumb the start button to see why.

Tester’s Notes

  • V8 needs 4k rpm before it comes alive
  • Sounds like a Mustang should now
  • Substantial control weights – gear lever, steering, brakes – only add to the experience
  • Handbrake in LHD position a bit of a pain
  • No stop/start on V8 manual (although some may be pleased about that)
  • Digital cluster looks good, although menus are somewhat convoluted
  • Good to see proper gill DRLs, shame it still doesn’t have red tri-bar tail-lights
  • 28mpg on test means in the real world the V8 is no worse than the 2.3 Ecoboost
Entry-level Price£41,745Price as tested£47,905
Engine5038cc V8 petrolTransmission6-speed manual
Power450ps @ 7,000rpmTorque529Nm @ 4,600rpm
0-624.6 secsTop speed155 mph
Economy22.8 mpgCO2277 g/km
Dimensions4789 x 1985 x 1382 (LxWxH)Kerb Weight1743 kg