Review: Ford Mustang 5.0L V8 GT Premium Convertible

Is its beauty only skin-deep?
by Carlo Chungunco | Feb 2, 2019
PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco

Some cars are all about performance, forgoing styling and presence in the pursuit of better handling and sportiness. Other cars eschew outright performance for prestige and an attention-grabbing design that gives onlookers a serious case of whiplash as they crane their necks for a better view.

The Ford Mustang Convertible is of the latter variety. Lopping off a car’s roof doesn’t do any favors to how a car handles, but there’s no better way of announcing “I have arrived” than by turning up in a V8 muscle car with the top down.

I have always lusted after the Mustang. Ever since the neo-retro revival of the pony car, seeing one drive by has always left me wondering just how good it would be to have parked on my driveway. Is this a case of never meeting your heroes? Let’s find out.

Styling

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From the aggressive headlights to the gaping maw of a grille, everything about the Mustang exudes arrogance as well as a certain cool factor that makes me giddy to walk up to the car from the front. There’s nothing like it in terms of presence—it draws your attention with a sense of attitude that is second to none.

It’s when you look past the front end that things start to taper out. The deep and intricate Kona Blue hue on this unit can’t hide the fact that lopping off the roof on the Mustang seems like it was done as an afterthought. The canvas top’s curves clash with the muscular lines on the door panels, but with the roof down, the car looks pretty amazing.

Don’t look so closely, though, as the hood vents have no functional purpose. Speaking of things with no functional purpose, when you open the doors at night, the side mirrors have puddle lights built in—puddle lights in the shape of the Mustang logo. They’re an awkward feature that has no place on a car that costs P3.718 million.

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Interior

The first thing that hits you is that the dashboard is really cool and futuristic. It’s a fully-digital setup that can change its layout to match the mode you are in. In Sport mode, the rev counter becomes more prominent and reaches through the top of the cluster; in Drag Strip mode, it becomes even bigger.

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The start button is flanked by toggle switches that lend an air of class to the cabin—a welcome touch, since the center-transmission tunnel is made of scratchy plastic. Thankfully, most of the other surfaces are of the soft-touch variety.

The seating position, even in its lowest setting, makes you feel like you’re sitting on the car rather than in it. It’s as if I was driving an SUV rather than a sports car, but that may just be an American muscle-car thing. At the very least, the seats were comfortable over long distances—something that most other sports cars struggle with.

Engine performance

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The Mustang’s pièce de résistance is its massive 5.0-liter V8, which puts out 460hp and 569Nm of torque, and is mated to a 10-Speed SelectShift automatic. The first time you hear that massive engine roaring to life, you know you’re in for something special. It’s one of the loudest engine notes I have ever heard, so for those with sensitive neighbors, it’s a good thing the car is equipped with a “quiet start” mode. The exhaust also has Sport and Track modes, which elevate the noise to prodigious levels.

That 10-speed transmission sounds impressive, but it needs some work. Whoever asked for 10 gears? It seems like this fad is just a pissing contest among car brands, anyway. Sometimes there’s a delay when the car decides to shift gears in stop-and-go traffic.

However, the acceleration of the V8 is amazing. Power comes so effortlessly that it’s quite easy to go way beyond the speed limit by accident. Overtaking on the way to Tagaytay turned out to be an exercise in restraint as the car has more power than anyone would need at any time. Such acceleration comes at a price, though: The Mustang averaged around 2-5km/L in heavy Manila traffic, and around 7.7km/L on the highway.

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Ride and handling

This Mustang is one of the newer-generation muscle cars that have seen the light of independent rear suspension. While it takes corners well enough, the removal of the roof in the convertible variant has caused the car to lose a lot of rigidity, and this is apparent on bumpy roads like EDSA. This, combined with the 19-inch wheels and the stiff suspension, results in a bone-jarring ride on less than perfect roads.

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Thankfully, on a well-maintained road, the car hugs the asphalt with a good, planted feel that can increase the driver’s confidence to push faster through corners with every bend that comes up. Brembo brakes provide adequate stopping power, but this is not a light car, and the extra heft makes itself known the moment you stomp on the brake pedal and dive into a corner. Yes, the stoppers are mightily powerful, but it takes a while to get used to modulating the brakes.

Extra features

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Other than the aforementioned exhaust and driving modes, the Mustang also has radar-guided cruise control as well as automatic headlights and wipers. When the roof goes down, your bum can still remain cool, thanks to the ventilated seats. One feature that stood out to me was lane-keeping assist, which causes the steering wheel to vibrate when it senses you’re veering out of lane. It’s a great safety feature, provided the road you’re on actually has detectable lane markings.

The sound system is a Shaker setup with a subwoofer. Music comes out crisp and powerful, but with that awesome-sounding V8, why would you even play music? Thankfully, the in-car entertainment also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for your navigation and communication needs.

Verdict

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It may seem like I don’t like the Mustang Convertible, but that isn’t quite the truth. I love how the car makes me feel when I’m driving it, and the smile I had on my face over the test period makes that obvious. It’s just that this being a car I lusted after, I had certain expectations of it. And the car just fell short of those expectations.

It boasts a presence that only a top-down Mustang can have, and the engine is a marvel of sound and power. But while the car makes a great first impression, such beauty is only skin-deep.

I personally cannot look past the issues I’ve pointed out given the price Ford is charging, but I am sure this Mustang will be perfect for other people out there. If you’re in the market for a top-down American muscle car, I honestly cannot think of a better option in its class for you.

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SPECS: Ford Mustang 5.0L V8 GT Premium Convertible

Price: P3,718,000
Engine: 5.0-liter petrol V8
Power: 460hp @ 7,000rpm
Torque: 569Nm @ 4,600rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive layout: RWD
Seating: 2+2
Score: 16/20

Ford Mustang convertible review

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PHOTO: Carlo Chungunco
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