By Leon Poultney Last updated
Despite the Ford Mustang sporting one of the most recognisable nameplates in the world, it has never actually been officially sold in Europe.
Brits desperate to get their fix have previously had to hunt for one of the 4,000 models that somehow found their way to these shores via specialist importers.
But that's all about to change because Ford is gearing up to launch the first global Mustang in 50 years, which will sit in showrooms up and down the country sporting the unbelievably reasonable price tag of £28,995.
Euro 'Stang comes in two distinct flavours: a 2.3-litre EcoBoost model with 312bhp and a stonking, all-American 5.0-litre V8 that develops an eye-watering 415bhp and slurps fuel like a thirsty camel.
But which is best? We tested both to find out.
Ford's designers have done an excellent job in creating a Mustang that is undeniably 'muscle car' in its presence, yet manages to look futuristic at the same time.
Sharp LED lamps sit amongst the car's iconic 'shark-bite' front fascia, while three-dimensional tri-bar taillights and indicators at the rear propel it into the future.
To give you an idea of just how aggressive this thing looks, particularly in the hardtop coupe version, the front end has been described as, "like a fist breaking through the bonnet", by Ford's design chief Moray Callum.
The convertible version loses some of its swooping lines but it gains a roof that easily folds back in a few seconds, allowing occupants to revel in the sound of a growling V8.
American muscle cars don't really do features. Apart from the exterior kind, which in this case, appear to want to hurt passers-by. But in Ford's latest model, customers get a practical boot that can handle 408-litres of stuff in the Fastback coupe body style, or 332-litres in the convertible, which is still enough to stow two golf bags.
Standard equipment is also impressive, with auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a HD rear-view camera and Ford's Sync 2 infotainment system thrown into the basic models.
However, it will be the performance extras that get Mustang fans salivating. A limited slip differential to aid high-speed cornering, a performance brake system and a number of selectable driving modes are standard across the range. Oh, and it's got a 'burnout mode' but more of that later.
New Mustang can be ordered with a 'sensible' engine but choosing the 2.3-litre EcoBoost unit is a bit like being invited to Gaucho to enjoy a bloody steak and ordering the asparagus tips, it just doesn't pack the punch of a proper performance car.
Conversely, it emits just 179g/km of CO2, as opposed to the staggering 299g/km of CO2 pumped out by the 5.0-litre V8. This sort of thing matters, because it makes the V8 ridiculously expensive to tax and owners will have to brace themselves for a barrage of abuse from environmentalists every time they pop to the shops.
The two engines differ quite a bit in terms of performance. While the 2.3-litre EcoBoost develops 312bhp, it lacks the thump in the guts of the V8.
It still manages to hit 62mph from a standstill in a respectable 5.8 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 155mph.
But the V8 is a brilliant snarling animal that makes the most out of the new Mustang's composed chassis and impressive levels of grip. The 0-62mph sprint is also dispatched a second faster than its eco-friendly sibling.
Both cars have downsides. The steering could do with being more direct, the synthesised engine note that's pumped into the cabin of the 2.3-litre EcoBoost models errs on the irritating at times and there are a few cheap looking parts on the car that give away its price tag.
Ford's Sync 2 infotainment system takes pride of place in the Mustang's toggle switch-strewn dash and takes care of most modern niceties, including DAB radio, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, voice recognition navigation and web-enabled apps.
The system is controlled via an 8-inch touchscreen that's extremely simple to use and fairly rapid to respond. Delve deeper into the system and you'll find Track Apps, which display an accelerometer and brake performance, while a launch control setting can be enabled to guarantee the fastest start off the line.
True hooligans will also love the electronic Line Lock function, which applies the front brakes and allows drivers to 'warm' their rear tyres. Or, in other words, pull off disgustingly smoky burnouts in abandoned car parks.
Wear a sensible hat and the new Mustang can be a little bit of a disappointment, as the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine just doesn't do this car justice. The wild V8 is a much better fit but prepare to be slapped with heady bills for rear tyres and fuel.
That said, nothing rivals either model in terms of price, performance and practicality. It's one of the best value performance car packages no the planet.
Ford Mustang release date: November 2015 | Ford Mustang from £28,995 | Car on test: £34,790
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