We are in what is perhaps the last golden age of the V8 muscle cars.
Even though Ford has teased photos of the upcoming 2018 Mustang, and internet fans across the globe debate the updated styling, with the first scorching hot week of summer rolling in there really is no better time to take a look at what the legend is today. One thing the Mustang is, this particular test car especially, is a one heck of a looker. While often debated, the styling on this sixth-generation car is curvy and aggressive, and there’s no mistaking this 2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible for anything other than a Mustang.
The test car came finished in a perfect combination of Oxford White paint, a black cloth top with black fade racing stripes and Redline Red premium leather seats. The GT Performance Pack equipped on this car does cost a hefty $3,700, but not only does it add some real performance, it also rounds out the styling. The package adds 19” Gloss Black alloys, big Brembo brakes, and extra wide 275-series tires in the rear. It’s all simply gorgeous and this Mustang draws looks and compliments from passer-by everywhere.
Beyond just the looks, this GT has more than enough performance to back up its aggressive stance. The 5.0L V8 standard in all GT models makes 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft. of torque, and it puts that power to the ground through a proper six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic is optional). As expected the GT absolutely hauls, from any speed, any rpm – just drop a gear and you’re gone. The clutch is on the heavier side, and both it and the gearbox take a bit of getting used to.
Once accustomed to the setup it becomes effortless with the right amount of feedback that you’d expect from a muscle car. The car sounds amazing and driving the backroads with the top down and nothing but the rumble of the twin exhaust pipes behind you is a great feeling. The Mustang has grown up to more than just a big loud V8 and a ragtop though; the GT is now a proper performance machine and the Performance Package really takes the car to that next level of performance.
The package adds a Torsen limited-slip differential with 3:73 gears, Brembo six-piston brakes, K-brace, strut tower brace, heavy-duty front springs, a larger rear sway bar and a few other handling tweaks. The package also adds unique oil pressure and vacuum gauges to the dash. It’s not cheap, but it costs a fair bit more to add all these performance goodies after the fact, so consider it a head start. Also interesting is that the GT comes standard with launch control (manual transmission models only) and electronic line lock – yep, factory line lock! There’s a display built into the cluster that can display performance stats such as acceleration time and g-forces.
Ford built the GT to be driven, and driven hard – in that regard the car responds very well to driver inputs. The steering is well-weighted and responsive with enough feedback to know what the car is doing, though a little more wouldn’t hurt. It corners flat and is plenty of fun through the twisties, and just a little bit of throttle action will allow the rear to rotate very well. The Mustang is not quite as composed when getting tossed around as the current Camaro (reviewed here), but it’s still fun nonetheless. It’s worth calling out that the tester is a convertible, and while only very minimal cowl shake was experienced, the chassis loses some of its rigidity compared to its fastback counterpart.
The Mustang does a good job of feeling special. The interior is significantly different in its styling than the typical Ford, so even while just casually cruising along, your surroundings give it a bit of a sense of occasion. The dash is short, which helps make the space feel more open, and its general shape throws back to the Mustangs of the 60s, while still looking totally fresh. The aluminized finished used throughout is well done and feels at home in such a classically styled car. All controls are well positioned and easy to operate, including the Ford SYNC 3 touch screen, which has been recently updated and now runs and navigates a lot like the GM and Chrysler systems.
The Premium leather seats look and feel great, easily making the Mustang one of the most comfortable sporty cars on the market, and the only issue with them is that in order to access the rear seat area you need to pull a handle in on the top centre of the seat back; it’s an awkward location and the handle requires a lot of force to unlatch the seat, particularly annoying when your hands are full with stuff that you want to put in the rear seat. Beyond that, the overall fit and finish is quite good with a few expected hard plastic panels here and there. Remember, this is a car that’s built to a $26,000 starting price point.
The interior may be great looking, but fortunately it’s not all show as the car is actually very livable day-to-day. Storage up front is a strong point, especially when compared to the Mustang’s archrival, the Camaro, with a decent sized centre console, glovebox and door panel pockets. The rear seats are better for children than adults, but they do fold to allow a pass-through from the trunk. The trunk itself is pretty deep – fine for groceries and soft goods, but not great for anything awkward and bulky.
On the daily commute, the interior is surprisingly quiet with the top up and the Shaker 12-speaker sound system will easily drown out any unwanted noise. The ride is compliant, and only noticeably rough on the worst of city streets. Visibility is better than its rivals including the Challenger (reviewed here), which makes parking in the city a little easier, and of course our top of the line GT came with a host of nice features to help make the long commute a little easier. These include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, heated/ventilated front seats and voice activated navigation.
If you were going to commute in a Mustang GT (reviewed here) you’d care about fuel economy and you’d be pleasantly surprised that with a moderate right foot and mixed driving the car returned 12.5L/100km. It’s certainly not thrifty, but pretty reasonable for a car with over 400 horsepower. The figure would definitely improve in a car with taller gears or more highway driving where numbers closer to 10L/100km are possible. The 5.0L will run on regular gasoline, but for maximum power it is recommended to run 91 or 93-octane, which is what our test took place on.
Now, the tested price on the test car comes out to $59,748, which puts it into base model Corvette territory, amongst other more upscale competitors like the BMW M2 (reviewed here). The good news is that the test car really is heavily optioned, and if you’re willing to forego some of the gadgets like the $1,600 adaptive cruise control, you can start knocking the price down to a more palatable level. Somewhere between the $26,000 base car (reviewed here) and this top of the line GT Convertible lies the right combination. The convertible also adds a fair bit of cost with an almost $6,000 premium over a comparable fastback.
Anyone who has followed and loved muscle cars for the last few decades has to be impressed at how far these cars have come. The 2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible will reliably run hot laps at the local track all day, or commute to work in complete comfort. That’s impressive, and it’s even more impressive that you can still buy one at an affordable price today. We are in what is perhaps the last golden age of the V8 muscle cars, with the promise of tightening fuel economy regulations and the increasing prevalence of hybrids and the like, the cars on the market today and not likely to last. Ford, Chevy or Mopar, it’s really impossible to make a bad choice, choose one with your heart, treat it right and enjoy the ride.