A walking holiday in the rolling hills of the Peak District is a perfectly pleasant way to spend an Easter weekend. But add the new Mustang GT 5.0 V8 convertible to the itinerary, set the great British weather to sunny and the whole trip gets just a little bit more racy, as Emily Anderson found out.
All sorts of things can happen when you blend English and American. Sometimes you end up with Winston Churchill or Nancy Astor. Occasionally you end up with Jerry Springer. And once in a while you end up with a prince called Archie.
And sometimes you end up with a V8 muscle car creeping through an 18th century village in Derbyshire.
The Ford Mustang is iconic for being the ultimate American road trip companion but seems somewhat out of character galloping through the quiet British countryside. It is loud and brash; it’s also enormously, irresistibly good fun.
When you first get into a car like this, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little sheepish about putting the roof down — but that really doesn’t last. The car’s confidence rubbed off on us on the drive up the M1 and as we reached Buxton we immediately dropped the roof; now we could really let the pony out of the stable.
Having the roof down isn’t just for show — it’s the best way to truly appreciate the incredible panoramic views of this part of the country. After passing through the dramatic Winnats Pass, we stopped for our first hike at Mam Tor. Unable to find the comfort of a car park, we did well to perch it on a grassy verge, failing entirely to look inconspicuous alongside a row of 4x4s.
By this point we had unwittingly acquired an air of arrogance, a side-effect of driving the Mustang, which seemed to infect other car drivers around us. Cars did their best to hurtle past, seemingly to prove themselves; my theory is they just wanted to get a good look. Surely, everyone knows the Mustang’s 5.0l V8 engine — with 450bhp and 529Nm of torque — isn’t worth challenging?
Instead of putting them in their place with a twitch of the right foot, we instead settled back and relaxed into the leather seats and smiled smugly, whilst we embraced compliments from passers by: ‘Nice car mate’ and ‘wow, look Daddy, a Mustang’ were the most common. This is a car that doesn’t spark envy in the manner of a Porsche; it’s a car that puts smiles on the faces of passers-by.
Not that we didn’t end up red-faced once or twice. We’d booked to stay at ‘The Bothy’ on the grounds of Warslow Hall, but so difficult was it to find that we ended up rumbling past the same pub five times in sleepy Warslow village. What we’d have given for a Ford Fiesta to hide our embarrassment.
When we finally found the grand entrance it suited the powerful impression of the Mustang. Discreet isn’t in the car’s vocabulary, but if you do want to keep the noise down to a make a subtle entrance you can set the exhaust to ‘quiet’ mode. That’s a bit like owning a great painting and keeping it locked away out of view; the Mustang’s engine noise is its greatest asset. My advice? Embrace its aggressive nature, set the exhaust mode to ‘track’ and let yourself be heard.
The next day we were excited to get back in the saddle. Rather than just getting from A to B, driving the Mustang became a large part of the adventure. We set off to Dovedale, a renowned beauty spot famous for its stepping-stones. Perhaps hoping to help us beat the tourist traffic, the sat nav ended up taking us down a succession of farm tracks — it didn’t save us any time, but it did mean we tested its off-roading skills. With improvements to the suspension it seemed to handle the uneven road well, if only on a short diversion. We soon joined a queue leading down a single-track to the car park. I am unsure if the cars passing kept a safe distance because they were worried about scratching the dazzling velocity blue paintwork, but I was relieved to make it to the car park unscathed.
The fun and surprises didn’t stop at nighttime. On our last night we drove out to The Royal Oak in Hurdlow — who serve truly immense beef and Stilton pies, incidentally — which meant a late night and the first time we’d driven the Mustang in the dark. When we unlocked the doors a projection of the iconic pony itself appeared on the ground – just when you thought using it in the dark wouldn’t get you noticed.
It was time for us to say good-bye to the Peak District and farewell to our new favourite ride. Its ten-speed automatic gearbox made the journey home a breeze, with a few pit stops en route for friends and family to admire it. They weren’t the only ones: just before I handed the keys back I took it for a mini valet to wash off the Derbyshire mud; the attendant couldn’t get to me fast enough, eagerly approaching me with a big grin on his face; ‘I’ll take the keys and drive that through for you’.
On The Road: Ford Mustang GT Convertible 5.0 V8
0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Priced from: £48,245 (£51,310 as driven, which included sat nav, adaptive suspension and a 12-speaker B&O sound system that was utterly superb)
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