We met the new Ford Mustang GT with a summery open-top flavor dramatized by V8 inflections
Overall Score 72/100
After weighing in out the goods and bads of the Ford Mustang EcoBoost, the time has come to get acquainted with the Mustang GT derivative, wrapped in an open top package that underscores the summer's arrival. Also, as I write this, the ink is just starting to dry on the certificate saying that Ford Mustang is the best-selling sports car in Germany and the best-selling sports coupé globally.
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Coming back to our tester, the GT badge at the back and the 5.0 insignia on the sides tell only half the story. The naturally-aspirated V8 under the bulky hood serves 421 hp and 386 lb-ft (523 Nm) of torque equally spread on the rpm range like peanut butter on a slice of bread.
It takes a while to get the engine going because under 3,000-3,500 rpm you'll barely stretch its legs. However, once you successfully aim at doubling that value – you'll know what I mean starting with 4,000 rpm – the five-oh V8 hits the ground running. We got to play with the six-speed automatic gearbox, and while I would have preferred the manual, I was pleased with the SelectShift's gear-changing game and fairly linear character.
0 to 60 (96 km/h) time stands at 4.5 seconds while top speed goes as far as 155 mph (250 km/h). Bizarre effects also get to your eyes and ears. The V8 roars as it should, leaving your eardrums asking for more, triggering a response in your right foot that'll make you press the accelerator hard and often. Pounding the gas pedal changes your view. Forget about the contouring panorama on your windscreen: stimulating the Mustang GT's sprint ego swaps the skyline ahead with the Stang's ripped hood.
Mario Andretti once expressed his amazement towards the popular belief that brakes are made for slowing the car down. Yet, you do need big brakes to contain the Mustang GT, and Ford summoned Brembo to get their magic stopping-power trick on stage via six-piston brake calipers taking sabretooth bites at those pizza-plate-sized rotors.
And yes, it corners better than the previous generation and the feeling of apex insecurity is dead and gone, but you must decide how much body roll you're willing to let it. Also, remember that the convertible is heavier than the coupé and the auto 'box only adds burden on the scales.
Even if Ford did fit the new Mustang with independent rear suspension but they still couldn't or wouldn't purge the American pony car spirit out of the car. Then, there's the option of ticking the box next to the GT Performance Pack Chassis Tuning, but unless you plan on spending weekends on the race track, I reckon that such add-ons are not a priority.
At the end of the day, the Mustang, even in GT clothing, remains a cruise-loving car rather than a track demon. That's mostly due to the faint steering and easygoing suspension, and I'm not saying that's necessarily a drawback. But the wobbly response on rugged portions of asphalt is. Also, the light steering at low speeds will save you from fatigue-inducing arms workout sessions when you're carving a path through urban obstacles.
Even if Ford decided to bring the Mustang to Europe for the first time in the pony's half-a-century history, it's refreshing to see that the car's ethos is alive and kicking even on the other side of the pond.
A five-star performance during the NHTSA New Car Assessment Program crash tests counts as a solid performance for the Blue Oval's pony car. The Mustang got five stars for everything, including overall, but given Ford's growing affinity for safety in recent years that comes as no surprise, especially if we look at how the 2015 Mustang doubled the number of airbags and brought its A game in the assistance features arena.
This rare commodity called comfort is something the Mustang only allows in the front seats, mainly because the rear seats aren't exactly seats. With enough ambition, two can travel in the cockpit's rear section, but I'm willing to bet their muscles and joints won't enjoy the ride at all.
While the driving position gives a good perspective of what's happening around the car, the convertible leaves you almost blinded thanks to a bunker-visor narrow rear window, something that doesn't apply to the Mustang Fastback.
Then there's the A-pillar blocking your view on tighter bends, and personally, I would have preferred the touchscreen a bit higher up on the central console because taking your eyes off the road just to look down is not a safe move. And what's up with the overly-complicated roof opening/closing system? I get the manliness oozing from the Mustang but grabbing a handle, twisting it, then pushing and holding a button just to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight is just too Gordian.
Moreover, top-down freedom only lasts up until around 40-50 mph (roughly 70-80 km/h), so you got two options here: get a better styling foam or get a short haircut.
FoMoCo played with a two-edged sword here, and I shall explain myself in an instant. Designers focused on the driver, granting nearby areas with quality materials, but as you leave that bubble, plastics get rougher. Moreover, the steering wheel satisfies both the eyes and the skin on your hands with a smooth appearance and grippy materials.
Cargo space stands at 11.4 cu ft (323 liters) for the convertible – whereas the fastback awaits with 13.5 cu ft (382 liters) – but that's the least pressing issue. Ford says two golf bags fit inside the trunk but when it comes to holiday plans, you'd either have to possess solid packing skills or limit to just a couple of days off.
Getting in and out of the Mustang doesn't raise too many obstacles unless you're the unlucky winner of a seat in the back. Also, the cabin is not for those living with OCD since storage spaces are scarce: two inside door pockets and two cupholders is all you get for various whatchamacallits.
Ford's revamped SYNC infotainment system is in charge of pretty much that's tech-related inside the new Mustang. Interaction takes place on an 8-inch tactile display with simplified, easy-to-read menus and sharp, glitch-free graphics. Below you'll find the set of fighter jet switches in charged with shuffling through driving modes, ESC presence, steering setting and hazard lights.
On paper, the official combined fuel efficiency figure stands at 17.4 mpg, but our Mustang GT Convertible settled for 13.8 mpg. Highway cruising soothes the 'Stang's drinking frenzy, but the best value you'll get is 18 mpg while urban strolling brings 10.6 mpg to the table. All in all, make sure you take the Mustang's thirstiness into consideration – especially if you're keen on getting the full bifta V8-based GT.
Every Mustang comes with ABS as standard, along with power-assisted steering, front bucket seats, four-way adjustable front head restraints, cruise control, Intelligent Access, a rearview camera, LED taillights, a six-speed manual box, and auto headlights.
Safety-wise, Ford fitted the Mustang with dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags, plus the active knee glovebox airbag and a driver's knee airbag. Furthermore, the Fastback offers side curtain airbags while other amenities include a safety belt restraint system and the AdvanceTrac electronic stability control feature.
On demand, clients can get the SelectShift six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, 18-inch wheels, the selectable drive modes bundle, heated seats, GT Performance Pack, Ford's SYNC infotainment system, aluminum pedals, and the anniversary 50 Years Appearance Package, among others.
The cheapest S550 Mustang is available for a starting sticker of $23,800. We're talking about the V6 Fastback while the Convertible will require at least $29,300. In coupé shape, the Mustang EcoBoost starts at $25,300 while the V8's price tag indicates $32,300 for the fastback and $41,900 for the convertible.
European prices are heftier, in the sense that you'll have to pay at least €35,000 for the EcoBoost Fastback while the GT requires a €40,000 deposit for the fastback and a €44,000 investment for the convertible.
In a nutshell, maybe the biggest advantage of the new Mustang is that it retained the 50-year old DNA while earning the required versatility to make it succeed in Europe. However, we reckon the EcoBoost goes best with the convertible guise while our recommendation can be summed up like this: go for the Mustang GT in fastback clothing as the V8 fits this version like a glove.
But probably even more important, the five-oh also underscores the pony's icon status from those times when Europeans could only stare at posters with the Ford Mustang hanging in their room.