While travelling in California this year Denver and I needed some wheels to visit some of the awesome distilleries, bars, and sights the area has to offer. While trawling through the online hire car sites an option for a new Mustang came up. What could be better than cruising through the Californian sunshine in an American muscle car right? Well, there’s only one way to find out...
The obligatory pic.
After landing in San Francisco Airport I jumped on the very convenient courtesy train to the garages where all the hire cars are located. After picking up the keys the parking attendant waved me towards the general direction of the car’s location. Lurking in the far corner was a brand new bright white Mustang. A push of the key fob gave a quick flash of the car’s lights confirming this was to be the D&L steed for the week. A quick walk around the car confirmed it looked as good in the flesh as it does in the pictures.
At the airport picking up Denver.
The first job was to load my maxed out luggage into the car. Fortunately there was a good amount of boot space so no issues fitting everything in. Hopping into the low driver’s seat required a bit of a mental adjustment especially coming from a right-hand-drive SUV. But all the controls were in their usual places and the interior was a nice mix of modern materials with styling cues from old school Mustangs, check out the metal look toggle switches. After adjusting the seat, plugging the phone in, and loading up the cup holders with water and coffee, it was time to start this baby up.
"I had read some information on this car previously and was surprised to learn in came in two options, the traditional V8 and the more economically minded four cylinder turbo version (that would have traditional Mustang fans turning in their grave). As to be expected with a hire car this was the smaller turbo version."
Hitting the red starter button didn’t end up with a big rumble you would expect from an American muscle car, instead it sounded pretty wimpy. I carefully threaded my way out the parking lot trying to get a feel for the size of the car, at least the visibility was good. Pulling out of the parking building and into the Californian sunshine it felt good to be finally out of the confines of the airport.
Hitting the the freeway on-ramp it was time to put the foot down, the car pulled away smoothly, quietly, and quickly. The engine certainly sounds much better when it get higher in the rev range, the whistle of the turbo is always present and gives the engine some character.
Having nothing scheduled for my arrival day I decided to bypass San Francisco and head north over the Golden Gate bridge towards Marin county. After a brief stop for more coffee and lunch I decided it was time to really test the performance of the car. Fortunately there are some some excellent winding roads that head up and around Mt Tamalpais, the highest point in the area.
Shifting the transmission mode into ‘race’ and just using the paddle-shifters transforms the feel of the car from American cruiser to European sports car. The transmission fires through the gears instantly making a manual option redundant. The handling of the car is good, very good, this is an American car that can actually corner, the lighter four cylinder engine helps in this area. The turbo engine has no perceptible lag and while not having the grunt of a V8 it does a great job of shifting the car at a rapid pace. Thankfully California doesn’t have the plethora of hidden speed cameras that plague Australia so it was just a question of keeping my eyes peeled for Smokeys, of which I saw none. Once I got towards the top of Mt Tamalpais I pulled over to take in the amazing views and fire off a couple of snaps. It was certainly a stunning part of the world and a great way to start the week ahead of me.
Always making an entrance.
For the rest of the week Denver and I put the car to good use getting us (and our glasses) around the city and it did an equally admirable job. The question I asked myself after giving the car back was, can this new Mustang really a Mustang without a gas guzzling V8? I think the answer is ‘yes’. I ended up really liking it. It looked good, had heaps of room, it was comfortable, fast, and even economical. In the US especially it’s pretty cheap too. Would I stump up the extra moolah for the V8? yeah, probably, if I had the cash it really would be the icing on the cake.
Catching some rays on Mount Tamalpais.
The D&L team will be heading back to California in 2017 so if you have any recommendations of places to check out then we would love to hear your thoughts. LF