All of this only amplifies the car’s engaging, ‘hands on’ dynamic identity. Up to around two-thirds of its potential, all the effort seems like a labour of love, the nonchalant hack of the BMW replaced with a flinty, thick-skinned hoariness – the balled up spiritual composite of a cast-iron griddle, a bearskin, a Black & Decker Workmate, a blasting cap and a well-used thunder machine.
Gamely try to get this hotchpotch moving at terminal velocity, though, and the Mustang’s 1720kg kerb weight, occasional ungainliness and touchyfeely steering come back to haunt it. The M235i has its own modest issues with body movement over B-roads, but the bedraggled Ford renders them barely noticeable, making the BMW seem elfin, tenacious, crisply rear-driven and highly meticulous, its sinewy steering and superior lateral grip offering the potency that tends to go missing in the Mustang when you’re doing your damnedest.
As I chew over this shortfall, the sun’s spectacular slow arc into the lingering mist causes a logjam on the Peaks’ normally quiet roads. It is a light show worthy of the Rapture, not a car shoot, and although we parade up and down in front of it at photographer Luc’s request, we soon give up and join the iPhone-toting masses on the brow of the nearest hill to marvel at the finale.
As it has done all day, the dramatic backdrop plays entirely into the Mustang’s wheelarches. It’s impossible under these conditions to imagine driving the more subtle M235i into the denouement. Only the big Ford – imperfect, unsubtle, unapologetic and absorbing – would ever make the right exit. Detached from a big, pretty sky and national park reverie, however, the car makes manifestly less sense; the running costs would make an oil-field heiress wince and it straddles most British driveways like a killer whale stranded on a toilet cistern. But, in a similar vein to taco hats, cherry bombs and Super Big Gulp, the Mustang has an uncomplicated and admirable way of keeping the fun front and centre.
So although it makes for a much less rounded offering than the M235i, it complements something like an electric BMW i3 almost perfectly. And what could be more gratifyingly American than both having your cake and eating it?
Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT
Price £33,995 0-62mph 4.8sec Top speed 155mph (limited) Economy 20.9mpg (combined) CO2 emissions 299g/km Kerb weight 1720kg Engine layout V8, 4951cc, petrol Installation Front, longitudinal, RWD Power 410bhp at 6500rpm Torque 391lb ft at 4250rpm Power to weight 238bhp per tonne Specific output 84bhp per litre Compression ratio 11.0:1 Gearbox 6-spd manual Length 4784mm Width 1916mm Height 1381mm Wheelbase 2720mm Fuel tank 61 litres Range 280 miles Boot 408 litres Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar Rear suspension Integral-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar Brakes 380mm ventilated discs (f), 330mm discs (r) Wheels 19in Tyres 255/40 R19 (f), 275/40 R19 (r)
BMW M235i auto
Price £35,505 0-62mph 4.8sec Top speed 155mph (limited) Economy 37.2mpg (combined) CO2 emissions 176g/km Kerb weight 1545kg Engine layout 6 cyls in line, 2979cc, turbo, petrol Installation Front, longitudinal, RWD Power 322bhp at 5800rpm Torque 332lb ft at 1300-4500rpm Power to weight 208bhp per tonne Specific output 108bhp per litre Compression ratio 10.2:1 Gearbox 8-spd automatic Length 4454mm Width 1774mm Height 1408mm Wheelbase 2690mm Fuel tank 52 litres Range 426 miles Boot 390 litres Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar Brakes Ventilated discs (f&r) Wheels 18in Tyres 225/40 R18 (f), 245/35 R18 (r)