2018 Ford Mustang Test Drive—We Rev Up With Ford’s Latest Ponies
By Evan J. Smith
Excitement amongst Mustang enthusiasts ramps up when Ford introduces a new pony. Such was the case when 2018 Mustangs began flooding dealerships last week. We had the chance to drive both the 310 horsepower EcoBoost and the 5.0 GT with 460 proud ponies under the long, sleek hood.
Now a “global” product, the S550 Mustang has to meet the demands of buyers all around the globe. One way to satisfy customers is with all-around performance, smart looks and the latest automotive technology. Mustang hits the mark with modern, timeless lines, ample performance, and electronic technology by way of a new 12-inch digital dash, the latest in navigation and optional MagneRide suspension.
The mid-model refresh gives owners an aggressive and more aerodynamic body with a lowered front fascia that’s matched with LED taillamps for a more technical look, and a bumper with revised styling and optional performance spoiler. You also get dual bright exhaust on EcoBoost-equipped models and standard dual exhaust with quad-tips on the GT.
The colors are extensive, with 11 exterior choices, including all-new signature Orange Fury metallic tri-coat and Royal Crimson, and Kona Blue returns to the lineup. Inside you can get a few optional materials and those awesome Recaro front buckets.
It’s likely you’ve seen the technical details of the 2018 Ford Mustang; what you’re really wondering is how does it drive and how good is the new 10-speed automatic? Thankfully, on a recent trip to California, Brothers Performance one of the first to get behind the wheel of the newest Mustang. We drove both the EcoBoost and the GT, along with the revised 6-speed manual and the SelectShift automatic, as well as the Performance Pack on both models.
“The Performance Pack includes front lateral-link ball joints (bushings are standard), Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (255/40/19 front and 275/40/19 rear), unique anti-roll bars and springs, passive dampers or optional MagneRide and four bolt-in structural braces,” said Mike Del Zio, vehicle dynamics engineer at Ford. The braces include strut tower, radiator, subframe and K-member. “Also included are special EPAS tuning and 3.55 gears (auto) and 3.73 manual,” he added. Both are equipped with a Torsen differential. Plus, our Stang had the optional MagneRide and We blasted up and down some of SoCals best canyon roads and the Mustangs never flinched. They absorb the curves with ease, remaining balanced and easy to drive—even when pushed very hard.
The reduced weight of the EcoBoost allows it to be tossed around aggressively and with 350 lb-ft of torque you forget there’s only four cylinders under the hood. The upgraded torque makes a huge difference, and we can only imagine how good it would be with a few mods. You can order a Performance Pack with the EcoBoost and that seriously increased the fun factor. The extra power of the GT is instantly noticeable, and the sound from the Active Valve Performance Exhaust, was fantastic. The Coyote has a sound all of it’s own, and it now runs to 7,500 rpm!
“This is one of the most aggressive refreshes you’ll ever see for a vehicle—we can’t wait for people to drive this car,” said Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer. “We identified everything that is important to Mustang fans and delivered across the board, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.”
Running in “Sport” mode, the 10-speed auto was aggressive—you feel the crisp upshifts, and the computer rev-matches, blipping the gas during aggressive downshifts. Set in “Drag Mode” the transmission goes through the gears with a bark from the tires and no delay on every gear exchange. Of course, it was a blast to row the gears in the manual, especially in the twisties, but I think the auto would be quicker on the drag strip. Four is now 1:1 and there are two overdrives, as compared to Fifth being 1:1 on the 2016 model.
Never before have I considered the auto to be a better option, but the SelectShift 10-speed transmission is a game changer. It would make life easy for the daily commute and give you excellent performance at the track. If you’re into autocross or open track, the manual still gets the nod, but drag racers may be shocked to see the auto cars running quicker.
Ford has done a wonderful job on the interior as well, improving touch points with a softer feel and offering a 12-inch digital dash that can be configured an a multitude of ways. It enhances the driving experience and keeps the iconic Mustang ahead of the pack.
We can’t wait to see what the basics like a cold-air, headers and tune will do, so stay tuned to Brothers Performance to learn how you can reach 500 or more power from your Mustang or Ford.