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6 February 2024

Mustang California Special Fastback 5.0 V8 10 Speed Auto Review

Welcome to the last and extraordinary Mustang V8 California Special – the epitome of style and open-top thrills. Clad in the striking Grabber Blue, it exudes a commanding presence, inviting endless summer vibes with its convertible top.

Recently, we embarked on a luxurious escapade to the opulent Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa, basking in the pleasures of their lavish outdoor pools and savouring culinary delights at the spectacular Michelin-starred Latymer Restaurant. Our marvellous Mustang tour also included a delightful stop at the Ritz in Picadilly for a delightful afternoon tea experience.  The Ritz concierge all loved the Mustang.

So what’s so special about the Special? Along with the groovy “California” moniker, it packs a 5-litre V8 engine with 450 PS, 533 Nm of torque or 444 bhp. It will gallop from 0-62 mph in just 4.8 secs and has a top speed of 155 mph. Fuel-wise, it maintains a combined consumption of 23 mpg and operates with a smooth ten-speed automatic gearbox.

What can I say about the exterior? Look it’s a Mustang, utterly recognisable from miles away. The iconic Mustang silhouette is unmistakable and a true head-turner, with a deep, booming melodic engine note that announces its arrival. The elongated bonnet, menacing twin honeycomb grille, and high-performance front splitter exude dominance. Complemented by shark-like LED headlamps, side black accent stripes, and stunning 19-inch carbonised grey aluminium wheels, the visual appeal is mesmerising.

Lowering the roof reveals subtle echoes reminiscent of a Riva yacht elegantly docking in Monte Carlo’s picturesque harbour.  The California radiates an unmistakably masculine style, yet it wears this aura with effortless grace and sophistication.

Opt for a Mustang in one of the vivid colour options available; those striking body lines deserve to be showcased rather than concealed in black. And the 500-litre boot space is perfect for accommodating plenty of luggage during long tours.

Inside, the Mustang envelops you in comfort and style. The supportive six-way front seats, as adjustable as your yoga instructor, offer generous space and are adorned with a blend of sustainable suede and faux leather highlighted by bold red stitching. 

While some plastic elements and faux stitching on the dash might not appeal to everyone, distinctive features like the vintage-style handbrake and sleek silvered knobs add character. Rear seats provide decent support and legroom for extended journeys, as long as you’re young and supple.

The car’s got a swish climate control called Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC) that keeps things just right inside, including heated seats. And the entertainment system, Ford SYNC 3, rocks an 8-inch touchscreen. It’s got everything from DAB radio and Emergency Assistance to playing nice with Apple Carplay & Android Auto. Plus, you can connect via Bluetooth or USB, and the sound system with the optional premium B&O 1000w 12 speakers is pretty awesome too.

It includes a Rear View Camera for enhanced visibility, Adaptive Cruise Control with an Adjustable Speed Limiter for added convenience, and Rear Parking Sensors for effortless manoeuvring.

Plus, the Mustang’s got your back with some really cool safety stuff. You’ve got Lane-Keeping Aid to help you stay in your lane, and it’ll even give you a little nudge if you start drifting. Then there’s Pre-Collision Assist, which can slam on the brakes if it senses you’re about to bump into someone or something, like pedestrians or cyclists. It’s like having a guardian angel with a PhD in crash avoidance.

Finally, we get to the good bit. The V8 engine is undeniably fantastic, but the gearbox struggles to handle its power, almost like trying to play a Stradivarius violin while wearing boxing gloves. Opting for the manual or sport mode improves things, but it does take a hit on the fuel economy, dropping to as low as 16 mpg, which is to be fair, expected in a V8 with this much heft.

Accelerating in the Mustang is an absolute delight; holding onto the paddles until the revs hit that perfect note is an experience in itself. The Mustang thrives on the freedom of the open road, revelling in every moment. With the wind in your hair and the scenery racing by, the engine’s roar rises to a crescendo. The Mustang California is nothing short of poetic.

The fully independent front and rear suspension setup is plush and incredibly comfortable, yet driving on uneven roads can bounce you around like a doll sharing a trampoline with a hefty rhinoceros. It smooths out at higher speeds.

Surprisingly, the car handles corners extremely well, especially equipped with the optional extra MagneRide® adaptive suspension. However, the steering feels more comfortable than razor-sharp, but it complements the ride style.

Kudos to Mustang for retaining the manual roof lock—unlike most convertibles that encounter issues with ageing electric roof locks, this car stands apart. While the roof slides back and forth electronically, the final step involves turning a tactile, large, chunky handle. This design ensures that your roof will continue working flawlessly for many years to come, outlasting other cars that might require trips back to the garage.

Dropping the top creates a perfect world. Even in November, with the heating and heated seats cranked up, you can cruise comfortably with the roof down. There’s no other car in this price range that delivers such a blend of style, driving enjoyment, and pure daily happiness. Comfort, power, aesthetics, and the iconic badge all come together in an irresistibly enticing package.

The Mustang California Special is a Swiss penknife—perfect for small families, excellent for touring, and fantastic as a general runaround. owning a Mustang California Special isn’t just about experiencing a mid-life crisis, it’s for those who truly appreciate living life to the fullest. The sheer pleasure and joy derived from this car far surpass the asking price, making it an excellent choice for those seeking an invigorating and fulfilling trip every time. 

Think of it as a passport to the land of eternal grins and wind-tousled hair. If fun had four wheels and a pony badge, this would be it! If life’s a rollercoaster, this car’s the thrilling loop-de-loop.

Prices on the road start at £57,465.
This model on the road with extras £60,680.

Category: Supercars