I think it’s easy to become jaded and spoiled in this line of work. What with all the Dodge Challenger Hellcat driving and the like. After a few short minutes in the Mustang V6 I was all, “Meh! Needs more power! More power!”  I was thinking back to my time in the 2014 Ford Mustang GT, where gobs of power had me hilariously sideways at every single opportunity.

This V6 is more timid, with a smaller engine doesn’t have the visceral kick in the guts of the V8, but it’s still rear-wheel drive, and still a six-speed manual. So I was comparing the two, and I was wrong to do so. Dead wrong. So wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong.

See, that Mustang GT was a $50,000 sports car (though you can buy it base for $38,000). This V6 is a $29,000 steal. Any grumbles I might have had about wanting more power were immediately extinguished when I looked at the pricing sheet. For $28,899 you get 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and a rewarding six-speed manual. More than that, you get access to the brand cachet that is Mustang.

For the uninitiated, the V6 is barely distinguishable from the V8 – the six even has two exhaust outlets these days. To the vast majority of the population, when you drive any Mustang, you’re driving the epitome of the American sports car. The two-door fastback lines make kids of all ages stop and stare, and you’ll get the satisfaction of watching other drivers try to figure out which engine you’re running. To drive a Mustang is to buy into a powerful and evocative brand – which is what many people really want anyway. There are very few cars, if any, that you can spend less than $30,000 on and have that instant enviable brand recognition.

You might argue a Mini or a Fiat 500 does the same thing – and you’re right – but they don’t do it the same way. The association is different. Those cars are “cute” to most, and “cool” to a few of us, the Mustang is just plain “cool” to a much broader swathe of the populace.

But it’s not just the image that’s the same for much less money. You get the same revised suspension setup as the GT, double-ball-joint MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar up front and integral-link independent with coil springs and stabilizer bar. That “independent” bit is new for this edition and the subject of much debate. For some, it’s an unwelcome break from tradition. For me, it’s a long-overdue upgrade that elevates the Mustang to a proper, modern car worthy of the global market.

The suspension is calibrated slightly differently to the GT trim, obviously, but the basic fundamentals are still there. The previous Mustang had a lot of bump-steer, this one doesn’t. It’s got a little push (aka understeer) which is not as easy to correct with the throttle in V6 form. The steering wheel offers decent feedback and a welcome amount of heft in all three selectable modes. To be fair I couldn’t tell much difference between Sport, Normal and Comfort, and apart from my initial play never used that button again. I didn’t need to.

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