The iconic Ford Mustang

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Mustang20160726Happy times are here again

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It was during the 1960s that the Ford Mustang played a vital role in post-war culture. Two major trends affected the 1960s new-car market trend and the Mustang was meant to exploit both. First was the shift of the demographic landscape when the baby boomers with ages 16-24 years old – fastest growing in America – didn’t want to drive the behemoth cars their parents drove. They wanted a smaller sporty feeling from a car or being closer to the ground, bucket seats, floor shifts and a big engine. Second was the increase in the two-car household when postwar boomers were simply multiplying, thus the need for a second car. When the Ford Mustang debuted in 1964, 22,000 orders were taken on the first day and a record one million units were sold in just 23 three months. The Mustang was the right car at right time, given the right marketing strategies.

It’s 2015 and the all-new Mustang GT enters a world of stricter emissions, tighter fuel economy standards, increasing fuel costs and highly competitive market. Times have changed after 50 years for this icon, with the Millenniums techies wanting their cars to have latest technology and gadgets fitted, but Ford already lets their cars park on its own and let’s wait till they drive by themselves. The fad of taking design cues from earlier counterparts is neither “dynamic” or post dynamic” in its design, save perhaps the grill’s outline shapes and fast back rear end that pays homage to the 67-68 model. So the new Mustang stands out from all Fords builds for its worldwide market.

This American Pony was in limbo for quite a while until this upgraded version from 2010 finally fit the bill. You will feel this 2015 Mustang to be livelier, more engaging and exciting. In fact, it undermines many import-car arguments. It’s safe too, with up to eight airbags in the coupe including a world first–a passenger knee airbag that lives in the glove box lid. Then there’s that new independent rear suspension. At long last, an independent rear. Which means, mostly, is that there’s finally a Mustang that rides well without being simultaneously harsh. The advanced traction control system also has multiple settings as part of the selectable driving modes.

Inside the Mustang
The 2015 Mustang when it comes to safety offers eight airbags, blind spot indicators, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, AdvanceTrac electronic stability control and tire pressure sensors. Ford offers automatic HID headlamps, auto dimming rear view mirror, cruise control and active noise cancellation for better long-distance driving comfort. Other features include pony projector lamps, a push-button engine start/stop with MyKey, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, SYNC with MyFord Touch, (optional) 12-speaker Shaker Pro speaker system and a reverse parking camera. Enhancing the driving experience is a selectable-effort power steering system with three modes, selectable drive modes with four functions and Track Apps.

The engineers seem to lean more toward the younger crowd with its manually adjustable, body-hugging Recaro front seats and the addition of the Gauge Pack that displays vital temps and oil pressure on the dash.

Performance
In taming this Stang, driving up the foggy mountains of Tagaytay City was an experience in itself coming from compact or mid-sized sedans, as this is still a huge two-door coupe. And surprisingly, the harder you push, the smaller the car feels. The suspension soaks up bumps and undulations up the tight roads of Santa Rosa, Laguna without bouncing you from lane to lane, and it’s a breeze to sling it into a corner and sort everything out with the pedals instead of the wheel. You know exactly what the chassis is doing at all times coming out of the bends; there’s a connectedness and communication that just makes you want to push it harder and faster, while grinning the whole time. The 5.0-liter V8 has torque everywhere and now makes 435 horsepower revving like a four-cylinder. What weight it contains is made up by the power being made completely available with the six-speed automatic with Select-Shift paddle shifters that encourages quick shifts. The steering is also quick enough to be lively but relaxed enough not to be upset.

Power slides are (duh) made with a stab of the right foot away – and they’re incredibly easy to manage. The Mustang is an American, V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive and its limits are obscenely accessible, but it encourages you to step on the throttle – repeatedly.

On a road loop with blind corners and variable pavement, I practically lit the GT’s brakes on fire. Not because the enormous Brembos were undersized or received too little cooling air – it was like I was driving like a maniac, flat-out where I could see the straight ahead, sideways where I couldn’t. I was once again a teenager with a smile on my face and a license that could (and probably should) be revoked at any instant.

The only thing the present generation Mustang’s engine doesn’t make enough of is noise. It’s too quiet for an American V8 muscle let alone being a Mustang.

Verdict
The Ford Mustang started getting back its appeal around 2010, then with this 2015 edition, it started getting good, like, really good. Like, embarrassing a BMW M3 on a track kind of good.

Downside is the price here in the Philippines, given the stiff competition from older rivals. The Mustang GT is no longer really the everyman’s performance car, even if it behaves like one. It’s the Mustang for the die-hards, the hardcore enthusiast who will have nothing else and have the cash to pay for it.

Suddenly, the American Pony is back where it belonged, at the top of the global performance game and locked in a speed war with Ford’s immediate rivals from Chevrolet and Dodge — plus any import that wanted in on the fight too. Happy times are here again.

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