Road Test: Ford Mustang GT Convertible
In a country full of German drop-tops, can a five-litre Mustang make sense? Alex Grant finds out.
SECTOR Convertible PRICE £47,645 FUEL 22.6mpg CO2 279g/km
Ford is rather proud of its heritage; not only the products themselves but the lifestyles they enable. So, when it confirmed it would double its electric drivetrain investment, it did so stressing that the ‘road trip spirit’ of older models would live on regardless. It’s so confident in that technology that even the Mustang will get a hybrid drivetrain before 2020 – a controversial meeting of polar opposites, if ever there was one.
For now, though, the first ‘World Car’ Mustang feels true to its roots. It’s an unadulterated muscle car; large, loud, inefficient and unashamed, and an alternative to rivals spanning from conservative German executive coupe-convertibles, to the chiselled Lexus RC. This speedy refresh isn’t due to a lack of demand – 30,000 have found homes in Europe since 2016 – but it does address a few urgent issues with the outgoing model, particularly its two-star Euro NCAP rating.
It’s arguably not quite as pretty as it was, but the upshot is some extra performance. Ford’s 5.0-litre V8, never a slouch before, now produces 450hp, and the ten-speed automatic gearbox tested here is new too. The relative eco option is a 290hp version of the Focus RS’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder, which is perfectly adequate, but most customers go straight up to the GT.
Neither make it a mainstream fleet choice, but it’s not as far-fetched as it seems. It’s cheaper to fund and tax than the premium convertibles, and a V8 Mustang took top honours at the 2016 MPG Marathon for vastly exceeding its official fuel economy. This isn’t hard to do; on a busy, flowing motorway route, wafting along in tenth gear with the roof down and the engine barely idling, we saw almost 34mpg. Some over-downsized petrols don’t do much better than that.
That’s a good thing, because in this spec it’s where the Mustang feels most at home. It’s a totally unchallenging, very comfortable, long-distance car with a delightfully bellowy soundtrack and presence few can rival. But it’s compromised, as a performance car, by the auto box. It’s quick to shift, but tends to find itself in too high or too low a gear, which makes it feel slower than it is, and there are too many ratios to blip through with the steering paddles. It’s a fine cruiser, but keener drivers will almost definitely prefer the manual.
Otherwise, new technology is very useful. Particularly the Euro NCAP-focused influx of driver aids, which means it now has adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping for the first time. The all-digital instruments, with their myriad gauges, are also welcome, as is Ford’s intuitive latest-generation infotainment, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. They’re certainly more useful – bragging rights aside – than the ‘Track’ and ‘Drag Strip’ driving modes, four selectable levels of exhaust silencing, and the line lock function (which brakes the front wheels for burnouts to warm the tyres).
Of course, if you’re in the market for a Mustang, then weak points aren’t dealbreakers. And it has a few, like the scuttle shake, low-grade leather upholstery or the stiff D-shaped handle to release the roof. This isn’t the most refined, finessed car in its class, and nor should it be. But it’s a characterful alternative to the usual suspects, now just as at home on the A66 as Route 66.
What We Think:
The Mustang has already shown it can woo European drivers, and the forthcoming hybrid ought to help in our CO2-focused market. It’s not a mainstream choice, but arguably all the better for it.