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Red-hot beauty
The latest Mustang retains distinctive heritage lines but has a lower, sleeker profile than the outgoing version.

Many thousands of Australians have, by hook or crook, snared themselves a Ford Mustang during the iconic "pony car's" 50-year history. But such cars have essentially been made-for-US editions - left-hand drives or conversions to right-hand drive.

So here's the exciting news.

The sixth-generation model, which has just been revealed simultaneously in six cities including Sydney, is the first Mustang to have been designed the modern way, as a true global car.

And that means Australia in 2015 will get right-hand-drive cars direct from the factory at Flat Rock, Michigan.

We will be able to pop into a Ford showroom, take one for a test drive and drive it around like any other car.

No red tape, no conversions and a likely starting price of about $45,000, I'm tipping.

When describing cars, Americans tend to use the term muscle car for the hot versions of large sedans.

However, the original 1964 Mustang was different, being designed from the ground up to be a more compact two-door, four-seat sports model.

The car's distinctiveness, raging sales success and horsey badge resulted in a new term - pony cars - being coined for such vehicles.

Before the Mustang debuted in 1964, Ford management had predicted first-year sales of 100,000 units but, instead, 1 million raced out of showrooms within 18 months.

It was a blunder they were happy to make.

In the globalisation game, the arrival of Mustang muscle will coincide with the final fling of the Australian-built Ford Falcon, itself an icon in its various muscle-car guises since the 1960s.


The Falcon will, ultimately, fail to fly largely because its market is essentially local - and waning at that - rather than global.

Meanwhile, the galloping Mustang has buyers licking their lips, from Barcelona to Shanghai and south to Sydney, the three non-US cities which took part in the simultaneous unveiling.

US buyers will be offered a choice of three drivetrains - a 3.7-litre V6, 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo and 5.0-litre V8 - while Ford Australia has decided to pass on the least lively one, the V6.

We will get both body types, the fastback and more conservative convertible, the latter the version unveiled at the midnight reveal I attended in Sydney.

But it was in silver, a bit of a boring photo opp given the vivid colours associated with the Mustang!

The new car, says Ford, takes a leap forward in handling, steering precision, ride comfort and craftsmanship.

It retains distinctive heritage lines - such as the long sculpted bonnet, short rear, shark nose and trapezoidal grille - though has a lower, sleeker profile than the outgoing version.

While the EcoBoost model is the first Mustang in two decades to come with a mere four cylinders, the direct-injection turbocharging should deliver a very lively, involving drive experience.

It will also sip fuel, although not growl like the V8.

Each engine will be available with six-speed manual and auto gearboxes, the latter with shift paddles.

Toggle switches on the console will enable quick adjustments to the steering, engine, transmission and electronic stability control settings.

Torque-vectoring technology will direct engine power to individual wheels to improve cornering, while track-day enthusiasts will appreciate launch control on the V8 model.

Myriad standard cabin technologies will include hands-free access, voice control, Bluetooth streaming and separate keys that remember the users' preferred settings.

Options will include blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and technology which delivers a user's favourite forms of infotainment via their phone apps.

But these are just facts, which won't affect many people's buying plans.

They will just know they must have a Mustang.

The realities of global economics mean our muscle-car world will be poorer for the loss of Ford Falcons but enriched by the colour and character of Mustangs.

History: Six generations, 1964-2014
Delivery: 2014 (US), 2015 (Australia)
Likely pricing: From $45,000 (EcoSport), $60,000 (GT)
Orientation: Right-hand drive for Australia
Body types: Two-door fastback and soft-top convertible
EcoSport model: 2.3-litre four-cyl turbo, 213kW, 407Nm
GT model: 5.0-litre V8, 313kW, 529Nm
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or auto, rear-wheel drive