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Driven: Ford Mustang GT Convertible. Image by Ford.

Driven: Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Yee-haw! And various other American-type statements: the revised Mustang is wonderfully idiosyncratic.

   



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Ford Mustang 5.0 GT Convertible

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: you can't help but love it, especially that mammoth V8 soundtrack

Not so good: interior finishing, the expense of it, structurally a bit wobbly, Coupe the better bet

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Mustang GT Convertible Auto
Price: Mustang range from 37,645; GT Convertible Auto from 47,245, car as tested 52,005
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: ten-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
Body style: two-door convertible
CO2 emissions: 279g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,070 in year one, then 450 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 22.5mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Power: 450hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 527Nm at 4,600rpm
Boot space: 332 litres

Our view:

The revised Ford Mustang GT Convertible is not going to win any awards for its handling. It's not going to win any awards for its interior finishing, although anyone who tells you it is woeful inside is having you on - it's maybe not Teutonic in its finesse, but it has plenty to recommend it, not least the swanky new digital displays in the instrument cluster and the comfort of the plush front seats. It's not even particularly cheap to buy any more, with the range starting at 38,000 and our test car - fitted with the 795 exclusive paint (Triple Yellow, sadly now discontinued), 1,600 MagneRide Adaptive Suspension System and 2,365 Custom Pack 4 (Shaker Pro 12-speaker sound system, satnav, climate-controlled seats, Ebony partial leather-wrapped console and 19-inch forged alloys in silver) - coming in at a fiver beyond 52,000.

It doesn't go massively fast, despite a 450hp V8 churning away up front. The Convertible model, as tested here, is structurally too flexible, by modern soft-top standards. The quoted fuel economy and CO2 emissions are both appalling, which means it's a very expensive car to run - in fact, even 22.5mpg was a pipe dream, because we saw 17.9mpg across 171 miles of non-motorway driving, with a best of 24.1mpg on a steady-state, A-road cruise proving rather profligate.

Then there are plenty of bits of exterior detailing which leave a lot to be desired, such as some of the shutlines and the strange bits of plastic you have to affix - BY HAND - to neaten up the rear door cards when the hood is folded, and in the boot are exposed bolts and signs of overspray. Talking of the hood, it opens and closes electrically, but only once you've twisted a big, clunky-looking handle near the windscreen header rail to begin/complete the process. Furthermore, there's a suspicion that the pre-facelift Mustang was prettier to look at than this one, which is almost scowling. But then, the pre-facelift was the one which garnered that shocking two-star Euro NCAP rating, so you probably don't want to buy that if you're, er, accident-prone.

We mean, we could go on picking faults with the Mustang. We could tell you to buy an Audi A5 Cabriolet or a BMW 4 Series Convertible or a Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet. But that would be yawnsomely boring and predictable of us. And, for six-and-a-half hours of driving in total, this slice of Americana provided such an enjoyable, get-under-your-skin driving experience that it became absolutely impossible to care about a single one of the Mustang's issues. Yes, we know that waffling on about a car having 'character' can just be a thinly-veiled way of saying 'it's a bit rubbish, but - perversely - we like it', but we genuinely don't think the Mustang is rubbish. It's flawed, certainly, and there are moments where it gets hard to defend it in the face of a German-car-loving detractor who is scoffing about the build quality, but hear us out.

The engine, for starters, is one of the true automotive greats. It might have a terrific drink problem, granted, but it also has a terrific soundtrack, without any obvious need for augmentation (it's fitted with an induction sound tube, which transmits noises from the air in the intake system into the passenger compartment, so that's an organic amplifier rather than fake noises in our opinion). It sounds amazing from idle to redline, with a wide variety of voices as it spins around the tacho. And how much better does motoring get than having a big-hearted V8 burbling along, hood down, on a warm, sunny day, with the galloping pony logo on the wheel in front of you? Honestly, the feelgood factor that the V8 Mustang provides when simply loping along, going from A to B, cannot be underestimated; you're paying for that privilege in the price.

And, on the subject of loping along, the MagneRide dampers are well worth having, because they give the Ford just enough body control in the corners to make it entertaining, while providing the proper, smooth ride quality that a lazy cruiser like this deserves. Similar praise for the ten-speed gearbox (yes, ten), which operates so efficiently that you often forget how many cogs it's shuffling through to get you in the right place on the rev counter. True, there are occasions, if you want to toy with its software, when you can have the car dropping three gears and then short-shifting back up two almost immediately, but you have to be deliberately acting daft with the throttle to make it do such a thing. Drive properly and the gearbox is no impediment to the fun factor at all.

Because there is fun to be had, throwing the Mustang about. It's a far more composed car than it has ever been before, thanks to the independent rear suspension, so while you'll feel its bulk in the bends and you'll be aware there are sharper cars to steer than this, the V8 Convertible is nevertheless more capable for handling than you might give it credit for. And we have to admit to a touch of disingenuity earlier: it is a fast car, that glorious motor up front summoning up rather expeditious acceleration when you ask for it. Maybe not anything that feels like it fits that eye-widening 4.5-second 0-62mph stat, but enough to have you carefully checking the speedometer regularly. Oh, and the sort of sensational soundtrack that makes all the hairs on your neck stand on end. We think we might have mentioned this already.

So while 'character' can often be an idle get-out clause for a critic, in the Mustang's case it's actually the car's USP. Nothing in this class has the charisma and chutzpah of the Mustang GT Convertible and, thankfully, the Ford is no dynamic duffer when it comes to getting it on the move, meaning it's a viable ownership proposition in the UK and also one of our very favourite cars in the class. We waited 50 years for the Mustang to finally make it to our shores officially - on the basis of this magnificent machine, it was time well spent.

Alternatives:

Audi S5 Cabriolet: a more cohesive vehicle with a first-rate cabin and all-wheel-drive peace-of-mind, but the S5 simply does not have the presence or soul of the Ford.

BMW 440i Convertible: a hugely impressive convertible in its later 440i guise, BMW's contender is about to be replaced as the new 3 Series (which will begat the next 4 Series) arrives.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Cabriolet: if you want a charismatic V8 soft-top from the Germans, look no further than this brute... which is 20 grand more expensive than even the optioned-up Mustang GT.


Matt Robinson - 4 Oct 2018



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