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Now that 2020 is behind us, we can all breathe a little bit easier. 2020 was brutal. Many lost livelihood and even loved ones, our way of life was greatly disrupted at an unprecedented level, and we are learning to live in these pandemic times, trying our best to stay safe and clean, avoid mass gatherings, observe social distancing, all while trying our best to continue to live freely, in a humane and dignified manner.

We face 2021 with new hopes and dreams, with knowledge from the previous year allowing us to slowly regain what was lost: our freedom, first and foremost. Freedom to move, freedom to travel and freedom to do the things we need to, and want to do. Though we are not completely in the clear yet, and we should temper blind optimism with a good dose of caution, the prevailing mood is that 2021 will be better.

And there’s no better car to celebrate freedom than the Ford Mustang GT Convertible. The Mustang is the automotive embodiment of the American Dream, and a convertible captures the freedom and romance of driving. That powerful Coyote V8 will help us run away from 2020 like a bad memory that it should be, and run towards a better brighter future. Plus, recent studies have shown that al fresco environments are generally safer than enclosed surroundings in terms of avoiding COVID-19 transmission and infection.

The current sixth generation Ford Mustang GT came out in 2015, and was heavily updated for the 2018 model year. Gone was the silly live-axle rear suspension, replaced with an independent multi-link design which did wonders for handling and high-speed stability. The engine was Ford’s latest Coyote V8 modular design 5.0 alloy block which featured integral webbings to strengthen the block versus simply utilizing thicker wall castings to increase block strength. This helped minimize weight up front as the new Mustang was a better handling and better balanced muscle car.

2018 saw the introduction of direct fuel injection to the Coyote V8 which upped power to 460hp and 570 Newton-Meters of torque of torque and a higher 7500rpm redline, mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission codenamed 10R80 delivers punchy upshifts at wide-open throttle. Paddle shifters add a bit more involvement although the algorithm for the shift oattern is very good in itself already. The changes also deliver a more bassy, soulful soundtrack, made better when experienced with the top down. The only downside is that after a good hard run, the 10-speed harshly at very low speeds right afterMethinks a good aftermarket transmission oil cooler might remedy this, plus a fresh change of automatic transmission fluid. After a cool-down of 20 or so minutes, it’s back to smooth shifting again.

Inside, it’s both futuristic and retro, with Ford perfectly combining classic design cues from Mustangs of yore with the newest trends and technologies to wow a new audience looking to become a part of the Mustang legend which spans all the way back to 1964. Chief of which is the 12-inch digital dash: though not as polished as the Europeans in execution, it is well laid out, legible and easy to read, and gets your heart pumping in SPORT and DRAG modes, where the instrument display changes to suit the driving modes. Ford SYNC3 is standard, together with Apple CarPlay and Andoid Auto, delivering powerful tunes to a 12-speaker surround sound Bang & Olufsen system. Parking sensors all-around and a reverse camera help you handle this pony in tight spaces.

On the open road, the Mustang delivers a very firm ride, short of harsh. There’s just enough compliance to keep it comfortable on a long-ride, thanks to the MagneRide dampers. These are dampers filled with magnetic particles inside the fluid. The electronics send a magnetic pulse which lines up the particles inside the shock bodies that has the effect of increasing damper fluid density, thereby increasing damping firmness and rebound control in a span of 1/20000 of a second. It’s something found in many more expensive cars like Audi’s TT and R8 and Ferrari’s F458, 599 and F12 and many more. The 19-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires help deliver very good control and steering feel, not to mention really good wet-weather capability on what is otherwise a powerful rear-wheel drive sports car.

But the Mustang GT, especially in convertible form, is a cruiser. Stow the top, drive al fresco and enjoy the good vibes, overlaid with that amazing V8 sound track, made more audible thanks to Ford’s Active Valve exhaust technology when you want that deep bass for feel-good vibes, or you just need to press-on as quickly as possible without any distractions.  The firm and well-balanced Brembo brakes ensure you have the matching stopping power to that Coyote V8. Should things go completely sideways (literally and figuratively), the Mustang has a total of seven (7) airbags, traction / stability control, ABS-EBD brakes with emergency assistance and forward collision mitigation with autonomous braking included.

The Mustang is all about feeling good. It’s fast, it’s fun, handles surprisingly very well, and has tremendous aftermarket support. It’s not the most fuel efficient (~8km/liter on the highway, ~4.5km/liter in the city at best), but it can hack it as a daily driver with decent space in the boot for a bit of shopping. The rear seats are quite useless for adults, but ok for kids. Ultimately, driving a Mustang is an escape to a better place, away from the bad memories of yesteryear, and enjoying the romance of driving, filled with hope and optimism. And at P3.718 million you won’t find any other car as complete and as feel-good as this ’Stang with a heritage to match.

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