Test-drive: Ford Mustang 2016

Few places are as epic in the continental US as Key West, the home of Ernest Hemingway, and the weird New Year’s rooster drop. Getting there is almost as epic, and the scenic route is really taking the overseas highway, stretching from Homestead to Key West.

We decided to test out the 2016 Ford Mustang, taking it for a ride from north of Miami to Key West, a trip roughly 190 miles. The trip went through places like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Homestead, Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and finally Key West.

When driving through the busy traffic in downtown Miami with the Mustang it’s soon evident that the back window is too small and doesn’t offer much view when parking, or trying to see oncoming traffic. Also since the car is pretty low, trying to see what’s going on further down the street is impossible. Of course these are problems that most sports cars face in busy city traffic.

The first part of the highway starts south of Miami and stretches from Homestead to Key Largo, touching the Everglades. Most of the surroundings are swamps and you can hint the ocean in the background, the road is straight with a few hills here and there.

Overall it’s a fairly boring stretch of road, the Mustang does make it better and when putting the foot down you can feel the power of the engine and the torque. This is the 2.3L EcoBoost engine, producing 313 bhp and doing 0-60 mph (0-100 km/h) in 5.5 seconds. The EcoBoost was not released without criticism, it’s not considered top of the line in Mustang circles since it’s not a V8.

Ford Mustang convertible

The V8 option is a 5.0L 415 bhp, a classic Ford Mustang engine spec. So naturally I was a bit skeptical of the EcoBoost option. On the other hand maybe it’s time for the Mustang to become more economical and attract a wider audience. Certainly in Europe a V8 is not economical and in most countries you are ridiculously taxed. Also the point with a car is that you can use it everyday, not put it in a garage and bringing it out twice a year. Especially not a car-icon like the Mustang.

Not once did I feel that the EcoBoost engine didn’t have enough power or torque, and it kept a reasonable mileage during the whole test period. What I did notice was a slight turbo lag from stand-still, here I think Ford can have a look more at BMW who have managed to reduce turbo lag (even in the diesels) almost completely.

After a while on the road the view changes from flat swampland to the beautiful ocean, and pretty soon it’s clear why it’s called the overseas highway. The road stretches from island to island, with long parts built in the ocean on concrete columns. Simply a beautiful and stunning view.

The overseas highway was built back when mankind still had balls, it started as a railroad initiated by the Standard Oil billionaire (who was not a billionaire after the construction) Henry Flagler. The railroad was built of thousands of workers battleing malaria, hurricanes, heat and alligators. In 1912 the overseas railroad was completed from Miami to Key West, only to be swept away in 1935 by a hurricane.

When driving the overseas highway you will see parts of the railroad in the water right next to the highway, today some of it is used as walking paths.

Ford Mustang back

Traffic is very slow, and we pull over to put the top down. It’s easy to do, but the car is very insistent on being completely still when doing it. This poses some problems as there are a lot of single lane stretches on the overseas highway (in technical terms it’s not even a highway).

On the interior side the Mustang have two options, there is a barebones version and a more up to date modern version with the Ford Sync and navigation system. In the modern version I’m driving the centerpiece of the car is the touch screen. I have never been convinced about touch screens in cars, I find them difficult to operate while driving, and every brand have their own UI and way of presenting things.

Ford Mustang 2016 Dials

Actually finding your way in the menus of the car was a constant source of frustration for the week we tested the car. Basic things like finding new radio stations people should be able to do easily, so I think Ford should work some on their UI.

Trying to fix the problem Ford added a lot of buttons in connection to the Sync touch screen, this is good but still created a bit of confusing as some settings are in the screen others on the buttons (VW have the same issue in their cars).

The switches outside of the touch screen have a retro feel to them and look quite nice. The steering wheel is perfectly sized if you like them smaller, all the essential buttons are also placed on the wheel. For example cruise control, answering calls etc.

The seats are comfy, and water cooling in the seats is even available as an extra. I’m not sure it’s needed given that the water cooling sometimes feel like you are wetting yourself.

Ford Mustang in Key West

In the backseat of the Mustang there is not much room, usually it doubles as a part of the trunk as you will not be able to fit more than one large and one small suitcase in it. But this is really the downside of most similar cars and is not unique to the Mustang (try fitting a suitcase in a Subaru BRZ).

Finally arriving in Key West the Mustang it’s noticeable that the convertible is a really nice cruising car with the top down. However the EcoBoost engine is not really cruising material, it does have an OK sound but nothing compared to the V8.

If I was going to get a fun everyday car and I lived in a warmer country than Sweden, the Mustang is the choice. Ford has really managed to keep the Mustang legacy with the 2016 model. It has looks, engine and will not burn a too large hole in your wallet.

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