America has always been the home of the big car, the muscle car, and despite rising fuel prices worldwide it's sticking to its heritage. The 2016 Ford Mustang GT comes with an ear filling, earth rumbling 5.0-litre V8 engine. But there's plenty more too.

Ford does offer a more fuel-efficient 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine option available to help it compete with other manufacturers in the UK. But we're not interested in that right now. We took the raw power of the 435bhp V8 Mustang 2016 out on the US roads to see what it can do.

Bear in mind this car starts at around $24,000 - but the one we drove was kitted out to be worth $44,000, which is still only a smidgen over £30,000.

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The V8 engine is, in our opinion, still one of the best things to come out of America besides the myriad barbeque sauce options. So when you scale that up to a 5.0-litre DOHC four-valve-per-cylinder engine you'll think you've heard the voice of god when you hit the 6,500rpm sweet spot. It really does sound fantastic. We drove with the windows down as much as possible just to enjoy the burble that turns into a roar as the revs climb.

Despite the size, the power isn't mind blowing. It'll push you back in your seat and deliver a kick no matter the gear you're in, but it's not a supercar contender. But at this price it's certainly fast. With 400lb-ft of torque you can drive around in third gear pretty much all the time as if it were an automatic.

Of course when you're commanding the power of such a huge engine it's going to cost you. In this case we were achieving about 14mpg. That was driving without fuel economy in mind, but don't expect to be spending too much time away from the petrol station when driving this beast.

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The Mustang isn't a ridiculously wide car, as you might expect. Despite driving the 2016 model on some slim roads, even by European standards, it doesn't feel too burly and zips about easily. The same can be said for length, although the turning circle isn't great so don't expect to do many more three-point turns once you're in this thing.

The look sticks to the aggressive grunt of the older Mustangs with a bonnet that seems to bulge around the engine. This bonnet also features air intake scoops on the front to cool the beast underneath, while also adding to the sports finish. Sports spoilers all round and well-defined lines add to that look and the thick tyres on 18-inch alloy wheels are the icing on, well, the sides.

The interior of the model we drove has some nice leather stitched finishes, Ricaro race seats, and chrome-looking finishes on the dials. But things like switches designed to look like plane flip switches, made of plastic, really shatter the illusion of premium. Not that we'd expect even this level of quality for the price.

Of course there are plenty of varying options for finishes both on the inside and outside, it just depends how much extra you want to spend.

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While we've already mentioned the power this beast can kick out, we've not clarified how that translates into driving. There are three modes to pick from: Normal, Sport+ and Track. Each can be combined with turning off traction control if you really want some extra fun.

If there's even a hint of moisture on the road and you apply all the power in either sport mode, you're going to have trouble controlling the car, even with traction control on. In a straight line we floored it and the back end was swinging about before we got out of first gear. Of course this isn't to say you can't use this.

That much power is always going to kick out when put into two rear wheels. If you can drive it with some control that makes for the ultimate drifting drive, something American cars are well known for in the movies.

But if you really want to go into Track mode, on a track, you're going to have to exercise all your skills to keep the car from kicking out. Again this is a fun challenge that you'd expect when buying a rear-wheel drive car using an engine of this size.

The ride is surprisingly smooth for a sports car. You could commute in this no worries, if you could afford the fuel. Even speed bumps are absorbed comfortably. And while this doesn't translate into super-soft handling, the wheel is still responsive when cornering.

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In typical American car style the Mustang has all the mod cons you'd expect – air con, cruise control, rear parking sensors and cameras. But it's not as kitted out as some cars similarly priced – in this instance that money must be going on the engine.

The seats aren't electric adjustable, the cruise control isn't adaptive, and the steering wheel and seats aren't heated. That said it does have Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system.

The Sync 3 system is fronted by an 8-inch full colour touchscreen LCD display. This is backed by a nine speaker surround sound system including satellite radio for the US. Sat nav is standard and works via the car's speaker system and display, meaning pinch-to-zoom for tablet-like controls.

Thanks to voice recognition, making a call is an easy touch of the wheel button controls while asking to call someone from a Bluetooth-connected smartphone. This also works for playing music or selecting apps to open.

The Sync 3 system also features AppLink, meaning that smartphone apps can be used in the car. This supports both Android and iOS and means voice-activated access to apps like Spotify. Although the car can also play music over Bluetooth if you want to use it that way. Glympse is also compatible which makes for an easy way to share your arrival time with others while travelling.

This all works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can use Siri Eyes Free or Google to control your phone's offerings. Prefer Google Maps? Just ask your Android device and it'll work that way.

Another nice touch is Sync Connect that allows you to start, lock, unlock and locate your car from anywhere. Although why you'd want to do that when not by your car isn't clear. We imagine if it's at home and someone needs to get to something you've locked in the back when you're out with the keys but not the car. So pretty rare then.

First Impressions

First impressions of the Ford Mustang GT for 2016 are largely as you'd expect: it's a brilliant sounding car in its 5.0-litre V8 format and really fun to drive.

While fuel economy, handling and extras might not be next-level mind-blowing, we wouldn't expect them to be on a muscle car - especially one this affordable.

That 5.0-litre V8 might not be something many people can afford in the UK either, certainly in terms of running costs. However it's something we'd love to be able to own because it's fun - and that's something a lot of car manufacturers have forgotten when striving for the ultimate handling and premium offerings.

Keeping a lower price, cramming in lots of raw power and setting it loose is still something Ford offers. Here's hoping that American heritage will continue to be there and continue to grow in the future.