Ford's iconic coupe is more polished and engaging after facelift
Must-have Mustang The Ford Mustang comes with a retuned 2.3-litre turbo engine and is equipped with more tech, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and collision mitigation. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Automotive facelifts are rarely worth getting out of bed for. A nip here, a tuck there, and they expect you to believe that it is a new car.

Not the Ford Mustang, though. The current model introduced here three years ago has been given a mid-life makeover. And it is a better drive for it.

Cosmetically, the changes are relatively minor. After all, you do not want to mess around too much with a classic shape. The most distinctive change lies with the headlights, which are now LED.

Inside, you get Recaro semi-bucket seats in front. They not only add to the Mustang's visual appeal, but also offer a good blend of comfort and support. In fact, they are the best of its kind sampled of late.

The rear remains a fairly tight spot, on account of the car's sloping roof.

Mechanical changes are just as significant. The car has a 10-speed automatic gearbox - up from the previous six-speeder. Up till now, only the Lexus LC and LS offer a 10-speed here.

With that, Ford has retuned the car's 2.3-litre turbo engine. Power is pared down slightly to 310hp (still very ample), but peaks at a lower speed of 5,400rpm. Torque goes up by 15Nm to 447Nm and peaks at the same 3,000rpm level.

All these changes add up to make the Mustang look and feel more the part of an American muscle car.

The engine may be modest in displacement, but it has the aural presence of a far bigger block. With the windows down, its booming resonance comes to the fore, sounding like no other four-cylinder here.

The revised Mustang, equipped with EcoBoost Performance Package, is also more fun on the go. The additional torque goes a long way in giving the car more low and mid-end oomph - even if 0-100kmh timing remains unchanged at 5.5 seconds.

The car's top speed has also been pared down from 250kmh to 233kmh, which is a bit strange given the potential of a 10-speed transmission.

The ratios of the new gearbox, however, seem to be tailored more for day-to-day driving responsiveness than all-out high-speed jinks. Hence you will be able to attain the 10th gear at well within expressway speed limits.

Whether it is because of the snug Recaro or not, the car feels more confident around corners. For a coupe, visibility is excellent, better than in some sedans, actually.

The Mustang's suspension is decidedly firm, but is far from harsh - the way a modern performance car should be. Its brakes feel very strong and light to the touch.

The car has excellent balance and road-holding, allowing you to throw it into a fast bend with hardly any drama, and with no excessive steering correction after it exits from that bend.

On the whole, it comes across as a more polished machine than before. If you are into details, you will also notice build quality has improved, with none of the niggles spotted in the pre-facelift car.

In addition, it comes with more tech, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and collision mitigation.

All these make the Mustang a must-have for those who want an enjoyable drive which is different from the usual fare.