Despite its success, I wasn’t blown over by the previous Mustang. Sure, it was an arguably good performance car, with attractive retro styling and lots of snarling V8 power, but I’d always felt it was more form-over-function than anything else. That gaping front grill sucked enough air into the engine bay to blow the hood off if it wasn’t fastened right. The slab-sided sheet metal also made it look rather heavyset.
The recent facelift takes everything wrong with the old car and fixes it. A more aerodynamic snout, subtle black skirting, a trimmer B-pillar, and curvier hips transform the Mustang from stylish to sexy. The styling is still retro, but it makes the previous car look like a crude caricature.
The interior is as flashy as ever, but now has has more class and much better materials. No one will complain about the interior plastics this time around.
Mod Motors Modernized
Most interesting are the underhood changes. Gone is the asthmatic old 4.0 Cologne V6 engine, replaced by a modern 305 horsepower 3.7 liter V6 mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Unlike the V6 Explorer’s six-speed, Ford promises this one provides instant response and control.
The big ticket, however, is the 5.0 V8 Coyote engine based on the old Modular 4.6. On a short drive through the back streets of Filinvest, this 412 horsepower mill was impressive It might not be as torquey as the Camaro’s 6.2 liter V8, but boy, does this Coyote howl... all the way to 7,000 rpm. And since the Mustang is lighter than the Camaro, performance is stellar.
The Real Deal
On my short high speed taxi ride, piloted by racing driver and instructor JP Tuason, I was eerily reminded of the BMW M3 V8. It feels more sports car than pony car. But unlike many sports cars, the Mustang’s cornering performance doesn’t come at the expense of a punishing ride. It’s downright supple, in fact, despite the lack of body roll and understeer. Though the ride was way too brief, it managed to convey the message clearly: The Mustang 5.0 GT mixes comfort, style, and performance in a way that absolutely nothing in this price range can match.
At P2,499,000 for the V6 Premium, the Mustang undercuts the competition by a huge amount. And yet, somehow I’d feel cheated if I bought one. The V8 Premium, with huge 14-inch Brembo brakes, tasty 19 inch (instead of 17 inch) wheels, and sticky high performance tires, Ford’s new “Track Apps” program for impromptu drag race scoring, and neat Pony projector Park-Assist lights (which have to be seen to be believed) costs only P400,000 more.
At one time, I’d have opined the V8 was overkill for local use. But a mere 400k premium over the six? The V8 burble alone is worth it. For pony-lovers, September can’t come soon enough.