Enough time has passed in the day for judges’ attentions to stray at least a little from the commanding presence of the McLaren, AMG GT, Ferrari, C 63 S and the Jag. Suddenly the Mustang is in demand. Maybe this newly discovered stretch of three-metre-wide blacktop snaking along some dunes to a dead-end, precisely 4.5km long each way, has something to do with it.
On a lazy Friday morning, giving no one else a reason to stray off the Dubai-Al Ain E66 highway, we take the exit and commandeer this 9.0km ‘loop’ to ourselves for nearly an hour. Two purple G-Classes with double-digit plates aren’t even fussed that we’re blocking the narrow road: “Nice cars!” says one into the open window of my Mazda 2. “As you can see sir, I lucked out.” He laughs and promises to spend Dh10 on the issue once it hits shelves.
The road leads to Bid’ Al Hilli, a water well and oasis near the village of Margham. It looks gentle on Google Maps but as the 488 GTB, GT S and 570S go chasing each other for some video footage, and the McLaren comes back with evidence of a dirt-drop, the reality is that every crest is a gateway into a nasty surprise.
We aren’t kidding anyone — this 5.0 is hardly a Shelby GT350, especially burdened with an automatic that doesn’t even make an attempt at enthusiasm, but the all-new independent-rear-suspension Mustang is a car for the occasion, and nothing spells occasion like a dead-end ribbon of twisties begging for some 100-foot long elevenses.
This still isn’t a sportscar, and you’re patently aware of the fact with miles of bonnet ahead of you seemingly turning into the corner before the rest of the car catches up. Then again that’s why we’re not calling it Best Sportscar.
Its closest contender is the Audi TT, which, although very capable is a touch joyless and lacks character.
A coupé is about emotional appeal, and the Mustang with its raucous V8 and the ability to destroy the rear tyres at will has plenty to spare.
It’s the kind of car you just want to get in and drive, especially when you’ve got a road as glorious as this. It worms its way into your heart. Coupé of the Year? Without a doubt.