What happens when you take a sports car with over five decades of history and provenance onto our highways – will it survive the broken roads and unruly traffic? We take the Ford Mustang on a road trip to find out.
Five decades. That’s a tenure that any vehicle manufacturer would be proud of for one of its models. Selling a model line-up continuously for such a long period of time takes a lot of effort, thought and perseverance. Needless to say, it’s no small feat. So Ford has every reason to be proud of what the Mustang represents today – an iconic sports car that is instantly recognizable and has a huge fan following worldwide. And in its latest iteration, it’s only driving the bar higher with regards to both the design and the performance of the product.
But our roads are a challenge that most manufacturers agree pose some of the fiercest obstacles in the world. So, as Ford launches the Mustang in right-hand drive form for the first time in its history, the obvious question is whether the Mustang can survive on our roads – or, rather, the lack of them? We’ve tested the Mustang on the track and in urban conditions already, so when Ford India called to ask if we would like to drive the Mustang from Delhi to Jaipur, it didn’t much for us to jump at the opportunity.
Now, the NH8 that connects Delhi to Jaipur is not that bad a piece of road. Before the never-ending widening work on it began, it was a good four-lane highway that could get you to Jaipur in a reasonable amount of time. But ever since the construction started, the road has become a mess, and there seems to be no end in sight. So, apart from broken road surfaces, you’re peppered with a myriad of unmarked diversions, bottlenecks, and, of course, there’s always unruly traffic in all its forms – trucks, two-wheelers, tractors, bikers – that seem to consider following traffic rules a personal affront. So, our task is cut out for us. And, in the midst of all this, we also hope to find some clear stretches of road where we can exercise at least some of the many ponies lurking within.
The first impressions of the car, once we wheel out from the Ford office in Gurgaon, are quite positive. Despite the big five-litre V8 up front, the power delivery of the car is very linear and it’s actually very easy to drive in traffic. The automatic transmission helps of course, with gear changes being fairly quick. The main thing that we need to get accustomed to is the massive front end of the car, which needs to be carefully manoeuvred in heavy traffic and when parking. As we leave Delhi behind, the roads start opening up and this present us with the first opportunity to properly exercise the loud pedal – and the Mustang doesn’t disappoint!
Since it’s not as brutal in terms of power delivery and road manners as some more focused sports cars, the relaxed nature of the Mustang suits our conditions much better. And that’s quite surprising really. Add to that a fairly manageable size overall, ample ground clearance and compliant suspension, and it meant that we never faced any problems at all throughout this excursion. The Mustang simply handled everything that was thrown at it with aplomb – which is a relief, if we’re honest, because we rated it at the top of our ‘Best of 2016’ charts.
But it wasn’t completely flawless, as there is one problem – and that’s the sheer attention it draws. In an age of camera phones and selfies, it was virtually impossible to stop anywhere without people whipping out their phones to take the obligatory picture of (and with) the car. In fact, while scouting for photography locations at Nahargarh Fort, a young man just casually walked into the path of the car – and, as I slammed the brakes to avoid impact, he calmly took out his phone to take a selfie!
So, the fundamental challenge of driving a Mustang in India doesn’t lie so much as with the abilities of the car, as they do with the skills of the driver in regards to handling the attention that the Mustang draws to itself. So, if you’re someone like me, trying to avoid the spotlight, the Mustang isn’t for you. But if your aim is to get a daily-usable sports car that also draws insane amounts of attention and Instagram posts, then the Mustang’s your ideal car. And if you just want to drive to Jaipur in peace, then buy one in grey.
Also read: Ford Mustang GT, Track Test