50 years of history and heritage | That larger engine really is something special – it’s a traditional American 5.0L V8.
It has now been nearly a year since the first 2015 Ford Mustangs arrived to Canadian dealers. Between myself and the rest of our editorial staff, we have now sampled all three engines in coupé format, as well as both automatic and manual transmissions. With summer now here in full force, it was only appropriate to try out the body style that is easily the most popular rental car on the southern half of our continent. I grabbed the keys to a 2015 Ford Mustang GT Convertible decked out with the 50 Years appearance package.
The anniversary edition of any car should stand for something special. Ford debuted their original Mustang in the second half of 1964, as a 1964.5 model. In spite of a brief stint in the 1970s where the pony car failed to meet all expectations, it has remained an icon in the North American automobile industry. 2015 marks the 50 year mark of the muscle car, and it just so happened that this coincides with the redesign. The 50 Years package includes a unique grille and light surround, unique 19” wheels painted in Lustre Nickel, unique badging throughout the car, and some stunning embossing on the seats.
In the looks department, the Mustang Convertible is a winner. It looks far fresher than the Chevrolet Camaro, which is getting a full redesign for 2016. Even with the convertible top in the closed position, the car looks unmistakably Mustang, and when the roof is lowered, it has that sexy Mustang Sally stance to it that North Americans will never forget. I’m a huge fan of the 19” wheels on this special edition, though it wouldn’t hurt if they were one size larger. There’s a “5.0” badge on the front fenders to signify that you splurged for the larger engine.
That larger engine really is something special – it’s a traditional American 5.0L V8. No forced induction here, though Ford will happily sell you the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost model for a little bit less money. For purists like us as well as a huge chunk of Mustang buyers, a naturally aspirated V8 is what being a car guy is all about. The motor pushes 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, with a 6-speed manual as standard equipment. However, our test car was equipped with the transmission that most buyers will opt for, a 6-speed automatic
I’ve been frequenting car shows and local cruise nights for well over a decade, so I’m all too familiar with enthusiasts scoffing at the thought of a sports car with an automatic transmission. The manual gearbox in the Mustang is an excellent unit, with perfect throws and a shifter light enough for almost anybody. That said, the clutch is a bit on the heavy side and therefore, drivers who want to daily drive their piece of American muscle may want to opt for the two-pedal unit. There is a sport function on the shifter that adjusts shift points accordingly as well as rev-matches downshifts.
The V8 though, sounds amazing. Just pushing the engine start/stop button on the center stack starts the car with a predictably menacing growl, typical to a muscle car. The exhaust sounds incredible both at idle as well as at wide-open throttle. Kicking down on that gas pedal will hustle this horsey to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds, and there is a “Track” setting on the drive mode selector that sharpens everything up for maximum control and performance. Response from the go-pedal is sharp enough and the transmission downshifts quickly enough. After hearing this engine with the convertible top down, I realized there really is no competitor that comes anywhere close to delivering this sort of noise for the dollar
Seeing as this is the convertible version of a two-door coupé though, there has to be some sort of compromise in the stability department. The Mustang Convertible feels a little bit sloppier than its hardtop counterpart, and this is indeed noticeable. The stability and ride quality on the 2015 redesign has definitely been vastly improved over the previous-generation car, so kudos to Ford for effort. Thanks to the new independent rear suspension, the 2015 Mustang feels sharper in every way. This is a car that’s surprisingly easy to drive quickly, and does not feel threatening in any way (except maybe to those driving in front of you!).
I rather liked the steering mode selector, which uses the toggle switches on the centre stack to switch wheel feedback between “Comfort”, “Normal”, and “Sport”. The car feels planted and comfortable, and handles quite well. The steering has enough feedback through the wheel but doesn’t require much overcorrection on the highway; the Mustang is a great interstate cruiser. Each time I was driving on the highway with the top down and the sun beating down on me, I thought back to my last drive down the Pacific Coast Highway in California, where it seemed as though every other car that I came across was a Mustang Convertible with a rental bumper sticker. This isn’t knocking the car at all; it makes a great choice for that sunny weekend getaway. It’s also just as good at taking you to work and back on a daily basis.
Our specific tester came in at just under $60,000, before factoring in any of Ford’s area-specific incentives. If this seems steep, Ford will sell you a 2015 Mustang Convertible for as little as $30,349, the base price for the entry-level V6 model. Those who are picky enough to require the V8 (such as myself) would need to step up to the GT Premium, which starts at $48,399, and the automatic transmission costs an extra $1600. I would also opt for Equipment Group 401A, which, for $2000, includes a Shaker Pro sound system with 12 speakers, a blind spot information system, as well as memory for the driver’s seat and mirrors.
Many convertibles nowadays have fancy power retracting hardtops that add a significant amount of weight to the car, as well as taking a lot longer to operate. The last thing you need is to be stuck at the side of the highway in a torrential downpour waiting for your slow convertible top to close. The Mustang uses a rugged cloth top that’s reasonably light and doesn’t intrude on trunk space either. It’s operated by coming to a complete stop, pulling down a handle located near the map lights and twisting it to the unlock position, then pushing and holding the button clearly marked. This drops all four windows and retracts the convertible top in mere seconds, considerably faster than that of the 2015 Camaro we recently sampled.
The most common argument used against the Mustang GT, and in favour of the (admittedly good) EcoBoost model is the fuel consumption of the eight-cylinder motor. During our test, we were able to get the big GT down to 9.9L/100km on the highway, and return overall economy of 11.9L/100km in a combined cycle on premium grade fuel. Muscle cars aren’t for everybody, and as my colleague remarked after his recent test of a Camaro, these are cars people buy based on passion for the specific model rather than the spec sheet. For those who do care though, the spec sheet and sheer amount of style points make the original pony car my personal pick of the current litter.
2015 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Gallery