FORD is cashing in on the popularity of the Mustang.
It has jacked up the price for the second time in two years - this time by up to almost $9000 - even though the improving exchange rate with the US dollar should see prices come down.
The starting price of the updated Mustang due on sale mid-year will jump from $45,990 to $49,990 for the four-cylinder coupe (up $4000), the V8 coupe starts from $62,990 instead of $57,490 (up $5500) and the V8 convertible goes from $65,900 to $74,800 (up $8800).
The Mustang V8 coupe auto goes up by $6000, in part due to its new 10-speed transmission.
Ford is even charging Mustang fanatics $650 for black or white bonnet stripes.
The updated Mustang - distinguished externally by a new nose and revised tail-lights - also gains automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control and a digital wide-screen dash display.
Despite the extra safety features the updated Mustang will still not achieve a five-star rating because the changes did not go far enough.
Other improvements include new suspension on all models and a bit more grunt for the V8 and four-cylinder engines.
The 5.0-litre V8 will have 339kW of power (up 33kW) and 556Nm of torque (up 26Nm), while the turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder retains the same 224kW output but torque increases to 441Nm (up 9Nm).
On the V8 there are four exhaust settings, from quiet to track mode.
Options include Recaro seats ($3000), magnetically controlled suspension ($2750) and 19-inch forged-alloy wheels ($2500).
Ford said the changes justify the price increases to the new model.
"It's not just a mild makeover," said Ford Australia spokesman Damion Smy. "The changes to the 2018 Mustang are significant, there's a lot of new technology inside and out, as well as the new look, and the V8 has significantly more power. Drivers will notice the difference with this car."
Ford added: "The V8 now has port and direct fuel injection, it's a two-stage injection system, which is highly advanced, and it's matched to a new 10-speed paddle-shift auto. The six-speed manual has been revised."
Two years ago, after the Mustang's first price rise, Ford Australia boss Graeme Whickman admitted supply and demand were also factors in price changes.
"We monitor (pricing) on all vehicles on a monthly basis," Mr Whickman told News Corp Australia in December 2015. "Demand and supply are always factors in pricing, that's the nature of pricing. At the end of the day, when you reflect on 4000 orders, that's a pretty big order bank."
Ford initially forecast it would sell just 1000 Mustangs in Australia each year; in 2018 the Mustang was the top selling sports-car with more than 9000 reported as sold, an all-time record.
The Mustang tally was more than five times higher than its nearest sports-car rival, the Toyota 86.
Despite the arrival of a new model, the Mustang is unlikely to top 9000 sales this year because the 2017 tally included orders carried over from the year before.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling
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