Marcus De Guzman / Kelvin Christian Go | October 09, 2017 12:07
Force of Nature
What got you into cars?
This is easily most frequent question that I've been asked as a car enthusiast. And honestly, I can answer that it's the Ford Mustang; a car that has captured my imagination for decades.
Packing a V8 up front and coupled to a sleek and sharp exterior, the Ford Mustang blends American power with style, and then some. In production since 1964, the stallion that ultimately started the 'pony car wars' has come a long way in its 53 years of existence. It's now bigger, more high-tech and has more horses under the hood. But despite the many changes it when through, the Mustang remained faithful to its original formula, albeit more refined.
Having already driven the four-cylinder EcoBoost model months ago, it was now time to get my hands on the more powerful GT which comes with an all-American V8. But let's start things off with the GT's exterior.
Don't try to adjust your screens, this is not yet the 2018 model year facelift. While not bearing the new changes on the exterior, the 'quietly' updated Mustang still comes with the distinct retro-modern design. Unlike the previous generation which had a 'blocky' look, the sixth-generation model went for a sharper, more flowing design which blends the old and new nicely.
Redesigning what was already an iconic look for the Mustang is no easy feat but was I glad to see that the designers were able to pull it off. The shark-like front fascia is dominated by the long 'power bulge' hood along with the angry-looking headlights and large grill. The classic tri-bar taillights are always pleasing to look at; easily the car's most iconic features apart from its fastback look.
What differentiates this V8-powered steed from its four-cylinder EcoBoost brother? Well beside having a more thunderous exhaust, the V8 comes with a 'GT' badge on the trunk lid as well as a different set of alloy wheels. Like the EcoBoost, the wheels measure 19-inches and are wrapped in sticky Pirelli P Zero tires which are good in both wet and dry driving conditions, but more on that later.
Open the doors and you are greeted with the same retro-modern design treatment. The brushed metal trim on the dashboard, along with the toggle switches and control knobs for the infotainment system serve as a nice throwback to muscle cars of yesteryear. Fans of the Recaro seats on the EcoBoost may be disappointed as the GT only comes with non-Recaro power adjustable front seats; yes, there are far more comfortable than the racing-style seats. The backrest is still manual adjustable but that makes it easier for the rear passengers to get in and out. Speaking of rear passengers, don't expect anyone towering over 5'6 to fit comfortably at the back.
Like almost all of Ford's 2017 model year cars, the SYNC 2 system has been largely replaced by the newer, more intuitive SYNC 3. Thanks to a tablet-like menu, faster processing speeds and quicker input from commands, it makes the older system seem pretty slow. It was also a breeze browsing through songs on a flash drive and connecting a phone to the system was equally fast too. In addition to that, SYNC 3 comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. The 10-speaker Shaker sound system delivered good audio quality but with a thumping V8, I actually set the volume to low on most occasions.
It's not all great however as I do have some minor gripes with the Mustang. For starters, heaps of hard plastic surround the cabin which can be off-putting. The center cupholders can sometimes get in the way when selecting gears, and the trunk aperture is rather small due to the car's short deck.
The driving force of the Mustang is a 5.0-liter (302 cu inch) naturally-aspirated, all-American V8 that -surprisingly- loves to rev. Internally known as the Coyote V8, this motor has been around since the last generation Mustang; the original retro model. The engine received a bump in power to a healthy 441 PS at 6500 rpm along with a whopping 542 Nm of torque at 4250 rpm. All that power is then routed through a six-speed SelectShift automatic gearbox and sent to the rear wheels.
This is not the first time I have ever driven a V8; that pleasure goes to the Lexus LS which I drove several months ago. But that was a luxury saloon meant to waft along boulevards in the most comfortable way possible. The Mustang is all about power and boy does it have plenty available.
With a push of a button, the Mustang rumbles into life. The distinct grumble of the V8 fills up the cabin along with the thunderous thumps of the dual exhaust. Even with a relatively light prod of the throttle, the powertrain is quick to remind you that it has well over 500 Nm of pull on tap. Mash the accelerator pedal and the rev counter goes all the way to 6000 rpm and you hear the rear tires chirping for grip, lunging you forward.
With the quick-shifting six-speed transmission, the Mustang can easily get to highway speeds and beyond so one has to be always mindful of their right foot while on the open road. Throw the transmission to Sport Mode (S) and the transmission holds the revs a bit longer, allowing the engine to belt out more power at high RPMs. Play with the paddle shifters and the V8 is practically egging you to have fun with it. Drive it sensibly on the expressway however, and it's actually a pretty decent cruiser. At a steady 90 km/h, the engine is turning over at just 1800 rpm that is accompanied by the constant V8 burble.
As this does come with a big V8, don't expect great fuel economy with the Mustang. Travel around town and the Mustang will only be able to return about 6.0 – 6.5 km/l at best. When faced with heavier traffic conditions, expect that figure to drop to about 4.0 – 4.5 km/l. Drive it on the highway and the Mustang will be able to average between 10.0 – 11.5 km/l, depending on how heavy your right foot is. But really, would you buy a V8 Mustang for fuel economy?
It may have American muscle at its heart, but it handles a lot more like a sports car nowadays thanks to a fully-independent rear suspension. Unlike the fifth-generation Mustang which had live rear axles, the new Mustang now comes with multi-link at the back. This means drivers can now take on corners with confidence to which I was able to. Coupled to the sticky Pirelli P Zero tires on all four corners, the Mustang GT can grip the road with ease.
Granted that the GT is heavier than the EcoBoost I got to test months ago, the new rear suspension still allowed the new Mustang to be more agile and stable on the bends. Still, one has to remember about the eight cylinder engine that's sitting up front which can cause some oversteer when one is not careful. Overall, it's nicer to drive than the old Mustang but this is not exactly the kind of car you'd want to hit the track with. There is the Shelby GT350 R but that is an entirely different animal compared to this.
Ride quality is slightly better thanks to the more comfortable seats. But since its suspension setup is almost the same as with the EcoBoost, you will still feel almost every bump on the road. Then again, you're in a Mustang, not in a luxury coupe so that would be the last thing on your mind while driving this. Lastly, the GT also has a great set of front brakes courtesy of Brembo. They're on the grabby side but with all that power going to the rear wheels, it's better than having weak anchors.
So how much will this piece of Americana set you back? Php 4 million? Perhaps Php 5 million? The Ford Mustang GT can be yours for just Php 3,195,000. Considering all of the equipment and power you're getting, this particular muscle car is a steal once you realize how much the competition has priced their sport coupes.
Seeing the Mustang grow into a more high-tech piece of machinery while retaining its muscle car roots is a great thing to see. What started out as a simple fun-to-drive 2+2 is now, more or less, a technical powerhouse built for the 21st century. What is more amazing is that Ford was still able to keep the pony car's fun factor intact.
For those that follow the mantra 'no replacement for displacement', the Mustang GT follows that tradition well indeed and is proud of it.