Until just recently, a European who wanted to buy a Ford Mustang could only stare longingly at his computer screen, dreaming of a day when he could walk into his local Ford dealership, trade his cash for a key, and drive off into the sunset to the sound of a burbling V8.
Making that dream a reality, though, required the Mustang to do a little growing up since it had traditionally been designed for wide, smooth, open roads in a land where gasoline was far less expensive. You can still modify the new Mustang for drag racing, and it’s plenty capable of cruising down a country road, but the traditional live rear axle is now gone in favor of a much more modern independent rear suspension.
The new rear suspension makes the Mustang significantly more graceful through turns, which is a necessity for navigating Europe’s older, narrower roads. To address the issue with the cost of gasoline, though, Ford needed a smaller-displacement, more fuel-efficient engine than the V6 it offered in the previous generation Mustang. Ford’s answer was a turbocharged 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder.
With the option of a four-cylinder engine and an independent rear suspension, the new Ford Mustang is finally Euro-friendly and ready to sell in droves overseas, right?
Car and Driver is reporting that U.K. car buyers are certainly interested in getting their first taste of a new Mustang, but they aren’t going for the fuel-efficient version. Instead, the Mustang they want is the one with Ford’s 5.0-liter V8.
In fact, out of the 2,000 orders for the Mustang in the U.K., a full 70% of those have been for the Mustang GT. It appears that the majority of British Mustang buyers aren’t interested in a Euro-friendly Mustang. What they really want is the real deal. Despite both gasoline and insurance being cheaper here in America, even Americans aren’t buying the GT with that kind of frequency. Some 70% of British Mustang buyers have opted for the V8 version, but only 52% of American Mustang buyers have done the same.
The British also still love their manual transmissions. More than half of all Mustang orders are for manuals, not automatics. Considering their love of V8, manual-transmission Mustangs, it appears the British have a thing or two to teach Americans about buying muscle cars.
When you think about it, though, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that buyers in the U.K. are interested in the Mustang GT. Adding an independent rear suspension and offering a small, turbocharged engine makes the Mustang more European, but if you take one look at the Mustang, it’s very clearly not a European car. The new suspension and interior certainly make the Mustang a better car than the one it replaces, but it’s always going to be a little bit out of place in Europe.
It’s completely understandable, then, that someone who is interested in driving a brash, blatantly-American car like the Ford Mustang would also be interested in the version with the brash, blatantly-American V8 engine. They’re interested in the Mustang experience, so they might as well get the whole experience.
You also have to consider that the Mustang GT offers more than 400 horsepower at a base price of £33,995 in the U.K. Other sports coupes with that kind of power are rare and often much more expensive. A BMW M4, for example, starts at £57,055. It has a nicer interior, but if you’re a British car buyer who’s mostly interested in power, you have to be a lot less wealthy to afford a Mustang GT than you do to buy an M4.
In the long term, the Ecoboost Mustang may end up taking back a significant chunk of market share from the GT as European buyers who might not necessarily have known they wanted a Mustang begin taking a more serious look. At least for now though, it appears that the Europeans have the right idea – buy the V8 and buy the manual.