IT was with my heart firmly planted in my mouth and with an audible tummy rumble that I got to test the acceleration of the revised Ford Mustang.

Ford has introduced a new Drag Strip Mode to its list of five other modes that tailor the steering, handling and throttle response of its ballsy, iconic performance car.

With this in mind, it chose to let loose 20 motoring journalists on the Santa Pod Raceway drag track to experience the Mustang at a sprint over a quarter of a mile.

To be honest, my memory of the 13 seconds it took to shoot along the track is but a blur. But exhilarating it certainly was.

We drove the 5.0-litre 450PS V8 version, which outsells the 2.3-litre 290PS Ecoboost version by 70 to 30 per cent. That got me thinking that if I were to own a Mustang it would have to be the more powerful version. Imagine a conversation in which you told someone you had bought a Mustang and then almost apologetically revealed it was the smaller-engined version. Expect a disappointed “oh” in reply.

There are, however, some very good reasons why you would opt for the 2.3-litre model. For starters, it costs from £36,645 compared with the £41,745 starting price of the V8. It also achieves a respectable 31mpg compared with the gas-guzzling V8’s 23mpg. And it emits about 80 grams per kilometre less CO2.

As the big seller, we’ll concentrate here on the V8, which thrusts you from 0 to 62mph in 4.3 seconds if you opt for the excellent new 10-speed automatic gearbox and is only 0.3 seconds slower with six-speed manual transmission.

The speed thrills are mated to an intoxicating and addictive burble from that huge engine, which positively roars as you press down your right foot.

But even when not pressing on, the Mustang puts a smile on your face. It is a very comfortable car with lots of elbow and head room and a decent boot size too. And the cockpit, featuring a 12-inch digital cluster and gorgeous seats, is a treat.

Available as a fastback or convertible, the Mustang has been a huge success in the UK since its introduction in 2016. Sales have now topped 6,000, while global demand for the 2018 Mustang has driven Mustang to its third straight year as the best-selling sports coupe in the world.

Advanced driving technologies now available include adjustable suspension, the selectable drive modes and a new active valve performance exhaust that delivers an innovative and quieter good neighbour mode for early-morning or late-night driving. New driver assistance technologies also include pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.

An instant classic, the new Mustang is sleeker than the previous version with improved aerodynamics and new LED lamps. There are 11 colour choices and four 19-inch wheel designs to mull over. There’s a wider, more aggressive mesh grille and new air extractor bonnet vents that add to the character as well as cooling things down.

New rev-matching technology delivers smooth downshifts accompanied by a sporty blip of the engine, and you can also specify a premium audio system that delivers 1000 watts of power through 12 speakers.

The Mustang’s fuel economy figure and CO2 output deny it a five-star overall rating, but in all other respects this is as good as it gets for a petrolhead looking for supreme performance in a sports coupe at half the price of premium brand offerings.