HERE’S the thing with driving the Ford Mustang GT Premium, especially if, like Ford Phils.’ loaner unit, the car is painted blinding red: When people who only have a vague idea about cars ask you what it is, tell them, with a straight face and in a casual tone, that it’s a Ferrari.
They’ll believe you. Most even nod approvingly.
That’s not the result of your amateur acting or well-honed lying skills. Besides a blinding paintjob (I’m sure the result will be similar if the car came in a different, even subtle, color) the Mustang actually does not wear any Blue Oval Ford logo on its body, instead flaunting the iconic galloping horse on its grille, a couple of “5.0”s on its flanks and a “GT” on its butt, making it difficult for the clueless to identify from which brand the car comes. And, not that everybody would know, but a galloping horse is pretty close to Ferrari’s equally iconic Prancing Horse, right?
Of course, there’s also the very obvious fact that the Mustang is a sports car, albeit a big—really big—one with an expansive hood that can fit a mini econobox in, and acres of sheetmetal that seem to cover bulging muscles underneath. It’s a stunning car that simply commands attention and announces your arrival wherever you take it. Rev its motor and the Mustang booms in God’s own voice.
That comes, actually, from the car’s 5.0-liter V8 engine that Ford has modernized with its Ti-VCT variable timing for the two overhead camshafts, but which retains the soul-stirring exhaust rumble of a true Detroit Iron. Backing up this sweetest of tailpipe notes are mega doses of grunt; 420 horsepower at 6,500rpm and 529 Newton-meter of torque at the 4,250-rev mark. Better choose the road and traffic where you decide to floor the Mustang’s throttle then, as the car will propel itself at a pace alien to drivers whose idea of fast is derived from that which an average 2.0-liter Japanese sedan is capable. Multiply that kind of fast twofold, then add some more. The Mustang is not to be trifled with.
Sending the power to the rear wheels (19-inch alloys wrapped in fat 245/45 tires; same as the fronts’) is a six-speed automatic transmission that swaps cogs without jerking and selects gears wisely enough in spirited runs and heavy traffic alike. Suspending the car are MacPherson struts in front and Detroit-staple solid axle with coil springs in the rear. Yes, it’s not the most modern of systems, and it makes the Mustang leap, instead of crouch, when you floor the throttle. But then this is how American muscle cars behave—cruising-soft, a bit jiggly on bad roads, and really spectacular if you so desire (there’s electronic stability to rein you in, though). Brakes? The GT Premium boasts of Brembos in all four corners, which provide sane drivers adequate stopping power. Idiots don’t get the same guarantee, of course.
Ford, in what must be a token gesture at giving the Mustang some degree of fuel efficiency, fitted electric power assist to the car’s steering, freeing the engine of a bit of load. Now while the supposed cut in fuel consumption that the system affords may not really matter to someone who had forked out P2.899 million on a car that he knows full well is propelled by a hulking V8, the electric power assist should be better appreciated for its three selectable levels of boost. That said, steering feel is a concept not entirely common to American muscle, and the Mustang’s is no exception, with steering assist that range from relaxed to very relaxed—like the car’s designed as such to let its driver keep his left hand on the tiller and his right on the hottie in the passenger seat.
Speaking of cabin appointments, the car’s GT Premium trim means it’s crammed with the fancy toys, like Ford’s Sync multimedia system that links music players and phones via Bluetooth, and allows you to bark commands to it. There’s a Track Apps that logs in lap times and g-forces. A glass roof, tinted just so to provide SPF 50-level of protection, according to Ford, lets soft light in. The car also has all the leather and silvery trim over a retro ’60s Mustang theme, which are classy enough. The Mustang’s cabin is a rather nice place to be in; posh without being Old Man and stylish yet not tacky.
On the other hand, what’s utterly so is the graphics coming from the car’s side mirrors, which throw a lighted impression of the galloping horse on the road surface once the Mustang’s doors are unlocked. The thing is entertaining only to people under 10.
All right, the Mustang is not a sports car in the Ferrari sense of a sports car—lithe, high-tech, snooty, lavished with the best materials on earth, and, as a result, hugely pricey—but it is unequivocally, unmistakably one. And, even if you could buy around seven of these for the price of one new top-spec Ferrari, still the Mustang manages to declare that you’re The Boss. Quite convincingly at that, too.