There really is something about driving topless. There's the feeling of freedom, and the wind you get with speed. And just to be clear, I don't mean the kind without shirts.
Most of the convertibles we get are small, usually coming in the form of roadsters; a sports cars with either a retractable soft or hard top. The BMW Z4, the Mercedes SLK (now SLC), the Porsche Boxster, and the Mazda MX-5 are just to name a few. All of these are great and fun cars.
But truth be told, most of those cars are rather small, and can only seat two people. If you wanted something bigger, something more powerful or more masculine in its demeanor, you'd have to go up several digits in price. The Mercedes SL Class is one, the Porsche 911 cabrio is another; all great cars, but all very expensive.
Now, there's a new more affordable choice if you're in the market for something bigger than an MX-5, and it comes from Ford: the Mustang GT Convertible.
Our market has been enjoying the modern Mustang since Ford Philippines launched the previous generation in 2012, followed by the current model in 2015 (2014 in the U.S.). Earlier this year, Ford launched the facelifted version of their pony car, and that's the one we're driving here.
The overall look of the Mustang really needs no explanation; the shape is as recognizable as other American icons like the Boeing 747 or a bottle of Coke. Ford didn't make any major changes in the profile or even the rear, but the new front end does look much better than the original 2014-2017 model. The biggest change is the roof. We've never had a convertible from Ford Philippines in recent memory (unless we count the NC MX-5 when Mazda was still part of Ford), and so the introduction of this soft top Mustang into the market is definitely a breath of fresh air, pun intended.
Opening the top is really easy. From the inside, there's a handle that you pull down and rotate to manually unlock the roof mechanism. After that, you activate a button and the roof retracts; albeit rather noisily and with a few creaks here and there. Regardless, opening up the once near-claustrophobic, high-beltline sports coupe turns it into something you'll enjoy driving up the mountain or cruising down a seaside boulevard... outside of the metropolis, of course.
As with the exterior, Ford hasn't made any major changes to the cabin. Like the coupe, this is a 2+2, meaning there are seats for two more people in the back. The dashboard is virtually the same, as are the switchgear, shifter, steering wheel and more. The thing I really don't like with the Mustang are those toggle switches just forward of the shifter; they've always felt like they were of poor quality particularly in the way they seem to stick, and the ones on this newer model are exactly the same.
What I do like is the instrument panel; it's now a 12-inch wide screen instead of the classic gauge binnacles. Ford says they got some video game designers to create the instrument screen for them, and it shows. There are a lot of options, and it varies depending on your driving preferences. I just had it set to the classic look for now, but you do opt to take it to the dragstrip, you can use a special mode mode with a bar-style tachometer so you can easily find your shift points.
Under the hood is an upgraded version of the 5.0 liter V8 motor. The upgrade isn't just a matter of tuning; Ford actually used some new tech into the Coyote V8 with the installation of a high pressure direct injection system, and while retaining the port injection. The dual injection system and other upgrades means this Mustang GT now has 466 metric horsepower (up from 441) and 570 Nm of torque (up from 542). Yes, it's still rear wheel drive, but this one has the new 10-speed automatic, and paddle shifters.
A press of a button ignites that V8 with a note that you can hear and feel from the engine and exhaust. Interestingly enough, the Mustang has a new feature too: a silent start. It's useful for not waking up the neighbors, or waking up the wife if you want to go for a late night drive when there's no traffic.
The previous 2015 Mustang GT coupe we drove was a nice, softly sprung pony car to drive around town. This new car is a bit stiffer. We can surmise that part of the reason is because they had to stiffen the car given the loss of the rigidity from the roof, but also because Ford reworked the suspension. New shocks, a new suspension component that aids lateral rigidity, and new stabilizer bars do stiffen everything up so you feel a bit more of the road. You can also forget about fuel economy; 4.3 km/l is what you can expect in city traffic (17 km/h average)
But the Mustang isn't made for city driving. Take it out on the highway and you'll enjoy how it delivers the same V8 experience with the option of dropping the top when the sun is out, but be prepared to have your hair rearranged when you do. The 10 speed gearbox is also impressive; the operation is smooth and the shifts are hard to feel, which is good. It's good for fuel economy too; expressway driving should net you around 10 to 11 km/l, depending on how quickly you want to get to your destination.
Where you can truly enjoy the Mustang GT convertible is heading up a mountain with a nice sequence of corners. Yes, this is a big and heavy V8, but the new suspension (which was borrowed from Shelby) does make it handle so much better, and with a 466 horsepower V8 and the paddles for the transmission, driving up a mountain will be fun. And fast.
The Mustang may have a rather bad reputation amongst car enthusiasts as evidenced by many crashes at car meets abroad, so much so that the running joke is that pedestrians should watch out as a 'Stang drives by. But as with horses, you have to respect the machine. That V8 is a serious engine, and if you underestimate it (or overestimate your skills) the Mustang can bite back. If you drive it properly with a smooth right foot on the throttle, you'll be fine. The drop top just adds another dimension of enjoyment.
Just about the only thing I would change for the Mustang would be the brakes. Given the weight, this Mustang cound do with a big brake kit, as the standard brakes leave some room for confidence in the way it bites. Previous models of the Mustang had bigger Brembo brakes as standard for the Performance Package, and that should be on top of your mods list if they still offer it.