Ford boss: "Jeremy Clarkson won't be unhappy with new Mustang"
Clarkson panned the Mustang in a recent episode of the popular motoring show, slating the company's rumoured decision to fit a smaller EcoBoost engine in the muscle car for Europe rather than a hallowed V8.
However, in an exclusive interview with AOL Cars, Ford's European sales and marketing chief Roelant de Waard said the last thing he wanted to do was "make Clarkson unhappy".
"I don't think anyone can pretend they know how to keep Jeremy happy, but I sure hope we do with the new Mustang," said de Waard.
"Maybe he was sending us a message that we do what is – according to him – the right thing with Mustang. We'll take his comments as useful information."
However, de Waard was reluctant to commit to a V8 Mustang being available when it arrives in the UK.
Rumours suggest Ford is considering fitting a more fuel-efficient 2.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo with around 300bhp instead.
However, many fans would see that as sacrilege – they'd say muscle cars should only come with V8 power. So will the new Mustang?
"Anything I say will be misinterpreted," said de Waard. "On one hand I think there are certain aspects of the Mustang brand that are sacred and on the other there are some that can change, like the F150 (big, juicy American pick-up) being really successful with an EcoBoost engine.
"However, we have said we are not going to European-ise the Mustang with a hybrid or anything like that – this will be a muscle car through and through. Part of the deal with the US letting us have one of their icons was that we kept our hands off it and that it had to be a 'proper' Mustang, so it will be."
AOL Cars believes what's most likely to happen is the Mustang will be offered with a top-of-the-range V8 as part of a line-up that includes more fuel-efficient EcoBoost units.
Whether that's enough to keep Clarkson happy remains to be seen...