Driving Notes

Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

TRUTHFULLY, the Mustang is one of the few vehicle nameplates which register familiarity (without contempt) even if you neglect mentioning the brand behind it. A quintessential “macho” car since its golden era in the 1960s and 1970s, the Mustang is also a pop-culture icon which has had its Hollywood flirtations. An appearance in the 1964 James Bond adventure Goldfinger (starring the legendary Sean Connery) was timed to coincide with its US launch. And who doesn’t know the song “Mustang Sally”?
Ford Motor Company aggressively marketed its vehicles in the American TV series FBI, which ran from 1965 to 1974. For the first four seasons, the Mustang convertible was specifically highlighted — driven by the show’s main protagonist, Inspector Lewis Irskin (played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.). There have been numerous Mustang sightings on the small and big screen, of course, but one could argue that much of the media groundwork towards establishing an undeniable, potency of persona were made in those early years of the then yet-to-be-iconic Ford.
If Inspector Irskin could take a gander at the present iteration of his set of wheels, he’d probably shed a tear of joy. The Mustang — now on its sixth generation — has graduated from being the originator of the “pony car” concept to a burly muscle car that goes from rest to 100kph in less than five seconds. It’s all grown up. Bearing a dynamic design to match its performance oomph, it’s also deceptively high tech. Boasting “innovative changes in transmission, braking, and sports exhaust technologies,” as declared by Ford Philippines when it locally launched four new variants of the car at the Manila International Auto Show in April: the 2.3L EcoBoost 10-speed A/T fastback, 5.0L V8 GT 10-speed A/T fastback, 5.0L V8 GT 10-speed A/T convertible, and 5.0L V8 GT 6-speed M/T convertible.
• Just getting behind the wheel of the highest grade (and most expensive at P3.718 million) 5.0L V8 GT with 10-speed A/T convertible already proves to be a strangely rewarding experience in itself for the simple reason that you will inevitably look good yourself by, well, osmosis. Admittedly, there are more Mustangs on the road these days, but a convertible variant is a rare sighting.
• At this price point, you can’t get commensurate power (from such a huge engine, by the way) and some pretty darn impressive technology if you look to European stables. So that three-mil is a good buy-in for a system that generates 460hp and 569Nm with the help of all-new port fuel and direct injection (PFDI) fuel delivery. See that open space? Zoom, you’re there.
• I was a little incredulous about Ford’s proprietary 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and if it would do justice to the power plant, but it did very well, thank you very much. Boasting a wide-ratio span and gear spacing, it actually enabled me to extract sprightly performance. Should you desire to go to higher revs and be given your druthers, opt for the steering wheel paddle shifters.
• One concern of muscle-car enthusiasts is the holy grail of engine notes — inevitably expressed through the exhaust system. The Mustang’s dual system with quad tips work with a brand-new active valve performance exhaust — a feature that affords (count ‘em) four exhaust modes: Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Track (in ascending volume and aggression, of course), “backed by electronically-controlled butterfly valves that open for performance and volume, and close during quiet cruising.” Now, even the most fastidious of nerds should get some satisfaction.
• This Mustang may be brutish, but it also wears a tie and glasses. It is the class geek who did his three-days a week at the local gym. This car drives smart so that you do, too — attended to by driver-assistive technologies such as Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, Lane Keeping Assist which warns you through a series of steering wheel vibrations when you’re crossing over to the next lane, and Adaptive Cruise Control allowing the selection of speed along with distance to the vehicle in front.
• And because the Mustang is not shy about its track prowess, Ford has even thrown in TrackApps, a “suite of applications [to enable] drivers to observe, review, or fine-tune their performance on the track… Here, drivers can select from a variety of performance features such Accelerometer, G forces, Acceleration Timer, Automatic Countdown, Brake Performance, Lap Timer” and others.

• If you are intending to bring more than one person along with you for a joyride, perish the thought immediately. The backseat is more vestigial than practical — more a place to toss your backpack in or some grocery items. Kids would probably love it there, though. The trunk proves spacious enough though (for your stuff, not for the children, okay?).
• You’ll find yourself making frequent stops at the gas station if you prefer filling up in increments of P500 or thereabouts. But you know that already, right? After all, 5.0 liters of displacement goodness doesn’t come cheap — and that awesome engine note will keep you wanting to step on the accelerator. Expect single-digit kilometer readings ranging from five to maybe eight. But, as you know, traffic is the great leveler and destroyer of fuel mileage.
Inspector, your ride’s ready for you. Come in and drive like it’s the 1960s — but we’ve got you covered with 21st-century goodies. The inescapable question though is: Do we need a convertible? Of course you don’t, but you’ll definitely want one. Think of it as your contribution to society. You’ll make people smile as you drive by with the top down. Promise.


Ford Mustang 5.0L V8 GT A/T Convertible
Price: P3.718 million
Engine: 5.0-liter V8, gasoline; 460hp @ 7,000rpm, 569Nm @ 4,600rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels/Tires: 19 inches, 255/40 (front), 275/40 (rear)
Key features: LED head lamps with daytime running lights; LED tail lamos; tonneau caps; multi-function display; leather steering wheel, seats and shift knob; 12-volt power socket; multimedia unit with SYNC connectivity; selectable electric power steering assist; selectable exhaust note; tire-pressure monitoring