A true icon of American muscle, Ford's Mustang is one of the most recognizable nameplates in automotive history. Now, after a long wait, Ford Philippines is already bringing in their prized horse to dealers' stables, and we get to see for ourselves how well this thoroughbred can run.
The Mustang debuted in 1964, and is currently one of Ford's oldest model names still in production. The current generation (fifth) pays much homage to its roots by drawing much inspiration from the 1967 Mustang, arguably the most popular version. For 2012, the fifth gen Mustang receives its second styling update and will be the last Mustang to have a traditional solid rear axle suspension, as the blue oval brand confirmed that the next-generation will have a more sophisticated independent suspension set up in place.
Echoing the design cues of the Mustang Fastback from the late 1960s, the styling of the current generation Mustang has been dubbed 'retro-futurism' by Ford design czar J Mays. The 2012-update features sharper and more modern styling elements with functional improvements in the form of grill-integrated air intakes taken from the GT500. Also new is the 'pony projection light', which doubles as a novelty feature and a functional puddle lamp. The Premium model also gets the optional glass roof, which I found as a really nice feature while cruising around at night.
The styling concept continues on the inside as the retro-inspired design is infused with modern amenities. The rather large seats are very comfortable, making them perfect as you drive around town or on the highway. The Premium models' leather seats, however, lose appeal in spirited driving environments like winding mountain roads or the occasional visit to the track. In-car entertainment is provided by a Shaker audio system with a touch screen interface powered by Microsoft SYNC and features integrated navigation; though the satnav system doesn't work yet.
Under the hood is a 5.0-liter V8 Coyote engine specifically designed for the Mustang GT. Introduced in 2011, the engine later received an additional 8 horsepower improvement for 2012. The 32-valve 5.0-liter naturally aspirated engine features Ford's first implementation of cam-torque-actuated (CTA) Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT) in a V8 engine. The lively engine is rated a 426 PS with 530 Nm of torque.
As expected, every step of the pedal results in the speedometer going up... while the fuel gauge goes in the opposite direction. The potent but thirsty engine is mated to a ZF-licensed 6-Speed automatic transmission with the new SelecShift option, which allows manual gear changing with a toggle switch on the gearshift.
While muscle cars were originally meant to go fast in a straight line, Ford focused on improving the Mustang's suspension tuning, developing the chassis and electronic aids like traction control to make it corner better. With significant handling improvements, it does take on corners quite well at speed as the driver aids do their job well. You do, however, have to control yourself with the throttle, as this wild horse will kick when you get way ahead of yourself.
The Mustang will certainly earn the admiration and smiles of fellow motorists and even the average Juan. It comes with nearly fifty years of heritage that will certainly appeal to the young and young-at-heart alike. It does come with a virtual height requirement as an average height Asian like me felt rather small inside and even had difficulty pulling the seatbelts.
Nevertheless, with the Mustang, Ford brought in more than just a car. They gave us a taste of the pony express... with more muscle, of course.