I know it’s “cool” and “rad” to complain about modern cars and their computers and safety systems and fake engine noises, but the fact is that the performance-minded buyer has more and better options than ever before. But who leads the pack these days? If you’re talking about sales—which may be the only metric that really matters—it’s the Ford Mustang, for the third year in a row.
Ford released data today announcing that it sold 125,809 Mustangs in 146 countries in 2017, making it the top-selling sports coupe worldwide in 2017. That’s based on new vehicle registration data tracked by IHS Markit from government and private sources, Ford said, and it represents perhaps the greatest threat to Cars and Coffee crowds the world has ever seen. (Sorry, I had to.)
When I asked which cars Ford looked at as sales competitors for the Mustang, a Ford rep said: “All sports cars. Porsche, Audi TT, Camaro, Challenger, Nissan, etc.”
Two-thirds of all Mustang sales still happen in the U.S., Ford said, but it’s also the strongest-selling sport coupe in China as well—though only with a paltry 7,125 registrations. (They love their SUVs and huge sedans over there.)
Some good news for enthusiasts: the most popular configuration worldwide is the GT with a 5.0-liter V8, though no word on which gearbox buyers opted for. Also, there’s a 10 percent gain in Mustang sales over the past five years by women buyers when that market has been relatively flat. That’s good. Speed is for everyone, and the only way enthusiast cars will survive the possible electric-autonopocalypse is if they appeal to a wider base of people than we’ve seen traditionally.
Why is the current Mustang selling so well? Well, it’s an icon, it’s more widely available and globally sold than ever, the V8's performance is excellent (and that 310 horsepower turbo four is no slouch these days either), and the current one looks pretty sharp as well.
Your move, Camaro! One wonders what Chevrolet will do, especially from a design perspective, to strike back against the Mustang as it enters the 2019 model year...