Mustang loses scoops, little else in transition to RHD

  • 15-Apr-2016 07:13 EDT
Ford04-16 Mustang ferry.jpg

"One Ford" off the ferry: right-hand drive U.K. Mustangs lose hood scoops and 5 hp but require scant additional modifications. 

“One Ford” is a technological and commercial philosophy that the company is energetically pursuing to minimize market-specific modifications for a broad raft of products. The Mustang is one of these.

It's been more than 16 months since the new-generation Mustang entered production in the U.S. and more than a year since it became available in Continental Europe. Recently the fabled pony car went on sale in right-hand drive (RHD) form in the United Kingdom with a choice of V8 and 4-cylinder turbocharged engines, and in fastback and convertible forms.

In testimony to the One Ford development process, changes to the car for European roads are relatively minor and most modifications are to conform to safety legislation requirements, although one change does slightly affect power output.

To change to RHD for the U.K., the right-side exhaust manifold for the 5.0-L V8 required a smaller diameter and additional bends to clear the steering shaft. The resulting slightly increased exhaust restriction meant about 5 hp was lost from the V8 Mustang’s U.S.- (SAE) rated 435-hp output. The smaller 2.3-L Ecoboost 4-cylinder was not affected. Only the V8 5.0-L and 2.3-L inline four are sold in Europe; North America also gets a V6.

The rest of the list of Mustang's changes for Europe is fairly short, the most visible, perhaps, being that there are no hood scoops on European cars due to pedestrian-safety rules. The European Mustang's turn indicators at the front are integrated into the fog lamps instead of the headlamps in order to meet homologation requirements which require only one light source for daytime running lights (DTRL). The car’s side indicators are yellow instead of red and the taillights have an integrated fog lamp in the lower reversing light area. Minor changes are made to the rear appliques.

Wheel preferences vary across Europe. In the U.K., big alloy wheels (2.3 Ecoboost: 19 x 9-in; V8 front 19 x 9, rear 19.95) are favored. But in some countries, including Germany, there is less concern about alloys (steel is regarded as aesthetically acceptable) or their size, according to Chris Muers, Ford of Britain Marketing Manager.

Euro-wide dynamics

Although the Mustang was developed in the U.S., Ford included a European team to ensure that the car would meet the particular driving dynamics of those countries. It is a difficult enough task for European automakers to themselves meet the disparate ride-quality expectations of, for example, German and British drivers; the former are accustomed to generally smooth road surfaces, the latter dealing with a much more varied mix.

So Ford of Europe embedded a Mustang development team in the U.S. led by Joe Bakaj, Vice President Product Development, Europe. The idea was to define one set of dynamics for all markets, with the end result regarded as being preponderantly "European."

It seems U.K. buyers were confident the Mustang's dynamics would be acceptable; 3500 Mustangs have been ordered, with 1000 shipped across the Atlantic for delivery in its first weeks of sale. Some 80% of those were fastbacks powered by the 5.0-L V8, a decision probably helped in part—but not exclusively—by the slump in oil prices.

Said Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain Chairman: “People want the V8 fastback because it is spiritually close to the Bullitt film car, even though the 2.3-L engine, like the V8, is not shy on power or sound.

“Buyers are from a multitude of other makes. For them, it is ‘the car they always promised themselves.' I know that is what we said of the Capri in the late 1960s but that is what the Mustang is, too.”

While the technology is important, he said buying a Mustang is also “a very emotional connection."

Barratt stressed that offering a car with a large-displacement engine like the Mustang V8 did not indicate any withdrawal in Ford’s electric and hybrid technologies’ programs. “Last year, we committed an additional $4.5 billion investment in electric and hybrid technology globally," he said. "We are now the second largest producer of hybrids and are starting to see hybrids more extensively on the roads in Europe, where we have the C-Max Energy, although in LHD only.”

Mustang V8 apart, downsizing its ICE line-up is a significant aspect of Ford’s powertrain philosophy. The company’s gasoline 3-cylinder engine has exceeded all expectations and has proven a “very wise bet” for Ford, said Barratt: “We are committed both to alternative propulsion moving forward and to alternative-mobility solutions. So our low-displacement gasoline engines are supported by hybrid technology.”

As for diesel engines, in Europe Ford is a major manufacturer at its Dagenham, U.K., plant, with 918,000 units produced in the past 12 months. But Barratt said the company is not as dependent on diesels as some other manufacturers: “In the U.K. we have a split of about 65:35 between gasoline and diesel-engine powertrains.”

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