THE ENTIRE 2016 AUSTRALIAN ALLOCATION OF FORD MUSTANGS SOLD OUT IN 2015. They sold out before a single car had been delivered to a showroom, much less a customer’s driveway.
Such was the demand, such was the hype for Ford’s long-awaited two-door muscle car.
Personally, I was excited to get behind the wheel - after all, over 4000 Australians can’t be wrong, right? But hype has a habit of setting unrealistic expectations, and, for me at least, the Mustang GT convertible fell victim to that.
Let me tell you why.
Vehicle Style: Four-seat convertible
Price: $66,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 306kW/530Nm 5.0 8cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 12.7 l/100km | tested: 16.9 l/100km
This is the first generation of Mustang to be a truly global car, the first to be a volume import to Australia and the first offered here as a convertible.
We get two convertible models: the four-cylinder Mustang Ecoboost and the full-monty V8-powered Mustang GT.
Both are only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox and in Mustang GT trim it's also the most expensive model in the range at $66,490.
However, with brash American styling that turns heads everywhere it goes AND the ability to drop the roof so onlookers can see your smiling face behind the wheel, Ford expects it to be a popular choice.
- Standard equipment: Leather seat trim, partial electric front seats with heating and cooling, dual-zone climate control, proximity key with push-button start, cruise control, customisable LED ambient lighting, dusk-sensing HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, alloy pedals and sill plates, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch Sync 2 touchscreen with nine-speaker CD/AM/FM/DAB+ audio, USB input with iPod integration, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, satellite navigation, voice controls
- Cargo volume: 383 litres minimum expandable via 50:50 folding rear seat
The Mustang’s interior is its most disappointing facet. Have a peek inside the Mustang and witness a cabin that’s simply not up to par, neither for fit, nor for trim quality.
Besides acres of rock-hard plastics (some of which cover key touch points like the door tops) and cheap-looking faux stitching, fit and finish is very poor.
And while that’s somewhat excusable in the entry-level Mustang Ecoboost, a $48,000 car, the model tested here is the $66,490 V8-powered Mustang convertible. It’s supposed to be the flagship, but it looks and feels exactly like the base model - no surprise considering they share the same equipment list.
But what it lacks in quality, it makes up for with its sheer “American-ness”. It’s got personality, we’ll give it that.
From the “Ground Speed” script in the speedometer, the aircraft-style toggle switches at the base of the centre stack (both of which are tributes to the ‘Stang’s airborne namesake, the P-51D Mustang), to the double-humped dashboard, there’s plenty of Mustang DNA on show and Ford die-hards will love those little flourishes.
The built-in “track apps” that are accessible via the driver’s multi-function LCD display also give you the ability to test out 0-100km/h, quarter-mile, peak G and braking performance. Owners will probably enjoy nerding out with those features..
But us? For such an iconic sports car the Mustang is a bit of a disappointment in the flesh. It seems like this interior was rushed through the development stage, with plenty of loose-fitting plastics of varying shades of charcoal being the end result.
The rear seats offer little in the way of legroom and headroom, and when the roof is lowered there are two unsightly chasms either side of the rear seats where the roof’s messy-looking mechanism is on show.
Ford provides a pair of plastic covers designed to hide those holes, but they must be manually clipped into place after the roof has been stowed. Hardly convenient, and definitely an afterthought..
And speaking of inconvenient, getting into the back seat is a real chore thanks to the front seats not sliding forward as the backrest is folded. Instead, you’ll need to wait an eternity as you use the electric slider to move the front seat out of the way.
Is there any good news? Well, the front seats are commodious yet offer great support, the feature list is generous and includes keyless ignition, sat nav, heated and cooled front seats, voice commands and more, and the boot is actually quite generous for a drop-top.
Broadly speaking though, the Mustang’s cabin is fairly ho-hum. At least it’ll drive well, right?
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 306kW/530Nm 5.0 litre petrol V8
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
- Suspension: Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
- Brakes: 380mm vented discs with Brembo six-piston calipers front, 330mm vented discs with sliding caliper rear.
- Steering: Electrically assisted, 12.2m turning circle
The Mustang GT’s 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 (which is related to the supercharged donk in the Falcon XR8) makes 306kW and 530Nm and is not wanting for either power or torque. But for some reason it feels a little lacklustre out on the open road.
That may have something to do with its 1.7-tonne mass. With a big V8 up front and the extra heft of a folding fabric roof (and the reinforcements needed to compensate for the lack of a tin top), the Mustang GT convertible is a porky thing.
But in a straight line it will reliably hit 100km/h in a respectable 5.5 seconds. It may feel soft and pudgy, but it definitely has speed.
It’s a similar deal with the way it handles. The roofless body has a bit of flex to it and the electrically-assisted steering is lifeless and uncommunicative. That said, it will turn corners harder and flatter than you’d expect it to.
But approaching its dynamic limits is difficult. Thanks to the numb steering, it’s hard to get a sense for how much grip there is under the front Pirellis (usually, it’s a lot more than you expect), and that makes for a car that doesn’t feel entirely comfortable to drive fast.
You can switch the steering between Comfort and two Sports modes, but that just increases the weight with no improvement to feel or feedback.
And that’s not really how we expected the Mustang to feel.
We wanted something raw and engaging, not insulated and distant. We’d even forgive a bit of dynamic crapness if it felt more exciting.
The Mustang is clearly a capable car, but it lacks the drama we were hoping for. Even its engine note is underwhelming. This is a naturally-aspirated 5.0 litre V8 we’re talking about, yet the Mustang’s exhaust seems unnecessarily muted.
Some might say it’s a bit harsh to mark it down for such a thing, that the Mustang is a grand tourer, a cruiser.
However those people are wrong. Beneath all of that cheap plastic is what feels like a genuinely well-balanced chassis, it just needs some tweaks to give it a sharper, more agile edge.
If that concerns you perhaps consider forking out for the optional Performance Pack, which brings firmer front springs, some extra chassis reinforcements, a 1:3.55 LSD and a tauter suspension tune.
It could also do with a better automatic. The GT convertible is only available with a six-speed slusher, and while it’s good enough for everyday driving it’s not up to snuff if you want to have a blat up a snaking road.
In manual mode the shifts are sluggish and the ‘box will automatically upshift at redline rather than hold a gear. In auto mode it’s reluctant to kick down into a lower gear, but at least manual downchanges are met with a satisfying throttle blip.
The GT’s Brembo brakes are strong stoppers that are well-suited to the job of reining in the massive Mustang, with good pedal feel. This is one aspect of the Mustang GT experience that doesn’t require improvement.
And if all you want to do is cruise about town, soaking up all the attention a bright yellow Mustang convertible inevitably attracts, then it’s fine.
The suspension is cushy enough for any urban street, you’ll still win most stop-light drag races and - with the roof down at least - the engine is just audible enough to remind you there’s a V8 under that long bonnet.
ANCAP rating: The Ford Mustang has yet to be assessed by ANCAP
Safety features: 6 airbags (dual front, dual knee, front side), ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control (switchable), traction control (switchable), reversing camera and parking sensors
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There’s not a great many performance options when it comes to convertibles in the $60k price bracket. In fact, there are really just two - the Nissan 370Z Roadster, and the more luxury-oriented BMW 228i Convertible.
Neither come close to the Mustang for power, torque or sheer head-turning ability.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
As flawed as the Mustang GT convertible is, it’s not difficult to understand why a great many buyers will find it tremendously appealing.
After all, who else will sell you a V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive four-seater convertible with head-turning styling and a hefty dose of Americana? Ford is your only option right now.
The Coupe is vastly better dynamically, and more the choice for drivers, but you will still be looking at the same sub-par interior.
We only wish Ford would up the ante and give the Mustang a sportier suspension, a louder engine and a gearbox worthy of a performance car. Oh, and an interior worthy of a $66k price tag.
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