It doesn’t get much better than a drop top Mustang in the peak of summer
Words by: Adam Allen
When a convertible Mustang and a beautiful summer day intersect, good things happen.
That’s true, and one thing that occurs with certainty is an ear-to-ear grin of whoever is sitting in the driver’s seat. A Mustang is one of those cars that fits perfectly against the backdrop of summer, a fact that is underscored by the modern-meets-retro styling. Give it the ability to stow its roof neatly behind the rear seats and the level of enjoyment increases even further as the perfumed fresh air spills into the cockpit. The symphony of Detroit’s Concerto in A Minor also fills the ears, unencumbered by the roof. We admit to getting slightly annoyed every time we see a ‘Stang driven with the top up on a gorgeous day- why buy a convertible only to keep it closed during the short window of summertime here in Ontario? – but you can rest assured that only a torrential downpour would keep us from stowing the roof on every single trip. We know how to represent, yo.
They say it’s got some styling tweaks, but I’m not seeing it.
For fans of the Mustang- and there are many of us- the changes are more easily noticed, but unless you had a 2017 parked next to a newly refreshed example like our tester, you’d be hard pressed to see what’s new. Ford lowered the front hood which is now bookended by revised fenders, and the headlights are squinty-er. Out back, The GT model sports quad exhaust tips instead of the dual setup from before. These changes are of the minor variety, which is good because we never felt the Mustang didn’t make a statement wherever it goes- you’d expect nothing less of the Most Liked Car on Facebook. There are new wheel designs as well a few new colours, our favourite being the return of Kona Blue. Mind you, our Royal Crimson Metallic liveried tester looked pretty good in its own right.
There’s new stuff inside too.
The Mustang can now be had with a 12” fully digital gauge cluster that actually looks great and performs well- there’s no choppy resolution or lagginess from the instruments to speak of. It’s also fully customizable depending on the drive mode you’ve selected. Ford touts this Mustang as the most advanced version ever, and with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, an available Bang and Olufsen stereo (yes, the same kind you get in mega buck luxury cars) and with SYNC3 at the helm of all these bits there really isn’t anything else you could want in staying connected or just making life generally easier. Technology inside cars is meant to make life easier, not more difficult, and the Mustang doesn’t disappoint.
With Ford liberally sprinkling around upgrades, the dirty bits weren’t spared either.
There’s lots to get excited about here. The wonderfully mellifluous and powerful Coyote V8 (and still blessedly naturally aspirated) gets a bump in power which now churns out 460 horsepower and 420 pounds feet of torque. When mated to the new 10-speed automatic, Ford says the sprint to 100 km/h takes a whisker under four seconds. That’s incredibly fast, and the manual will only be a touch slower than that. The Coyote also features what Ford calls a Charge Motion Control Valve which basically gives the burly V8 a split personality. It’s hyper efficient at light throttle- you can expect some impressive fuel economy numbers if you show restraint on your commute. Bury the throttle to the floorboards and the Coyote can still charge to its higher redline of 7,500 rpm- only 750 rpm off the shrieking, exotic Voodoo engine from the GT350- while filling neighbouring ears with the glorious sounds of an American V8. Speaking of which, you can now have an active exhaust on your Mustang ($1,000) that lets you quiet things down on early morning departures or have the V8’s lungs unmuffled- which setting do you think became our default? We have moaned about the exhaust being to quiet in previous Road Tests; not anymore. Also drawing its share of the headlines is the availability of Ford’s near-magical MagneRide suspension. First seen in the GT350 as well as a host of who’s who in the automotive pantheon of high performance machinery, it delivers a truly comfortable ride when you just want to get from A to B and cinches up smartly when you want to play around a bit. Anyone who has ever experienced this technology knows that it’s a must have. Speaking of the GT350, for those who lust after one but can’t swing the payments the newly available Performance Pack 2 should go a long way of satiating their need for a track day performer. No word on whether or not you’ll be able to spec it on your convertible, but at $6,500 USD (strangely, you can’t find the option on the Canadian website yet) it’s a screaming deal. It nets you such goodies as larger brakes, aggressively revised suspension, and properly massive 305/30/19 wheels and tires at all four corners. One popular American car mag pitted a PP2 equipped coupe version with a stock GT at a private racetrack and was able to turn a lap time an almost incompressible 6.5 seconds faster than the stocker. Wow. Oh, and Line Lock- the feature that strikes fear into the hearts of rear tires- is now standard across the entire Mustang range.
Do all these tweaks affect how it drives?
Except for the new automatic and the MagneRide suspenders there’s no significant changes to the Mustang, although these incremental updates do make a big difference in the way the car drives. The engine wasn’t tardy to begin with, and although it’s a bit hard to feel the extra horsepower, the higher redline does make an impact with the Coyote providing serious urge right up to the fuel cut off. The trick suspension provides a perfect balance of ride quality and handling prowess, and although the multimode exhaust provides no extra power, the increased volume coming from the tailpipes only adds to the enjoyment of basking in the lovely noise made by the V8 especially when you drop the top. Obviously, the Mustang is fast and can handle well. What we particularly enjoyed is that it’s undeniably cutting edge and modern, yet it still feels like an analogue conveyance in a digital world. Cars like these are fast becoming an endangered species, and we reveled in its purity whenever we took the wheel.
What might go wrong?
The fact that our Mustang tester was a convertible simultaneously its best and worst feature. Obviously driving al fresco has its charms, but the Mustang’s chassis is much happier with a roof over its head. Thus equipped, the ‘Stang is a formidable sports car and can punch far above its weight where performance metrics are concerned. Take away all that rigidity and they Mustang’s malevolence becomes somewhat muted. Performance Pack or not, the Convertible simply lacks the handling precision you would enjoy with the Coupe- but if your driving regimen doesn’t include sinewy bits of tarmac, you should not be concerned. Lastly, a word about the dashboard mounted gauges which include monitoring for oil pressure (useful) and engine vacuum (not so useful.) We think that gauge could be put to better use, perhaps measuring the increased decibels as you select the loudness options for the exhaust.
Should I buy a Mustang GT Convertible?
If you prize convertibles that stow their roof quickly and silently, the Mustang’s convertible top will appeal to you. Another asset- it keeps the interior reasonably hushed when the roof is up, and it keeps most of the Mustang’s styling bravado intact. Keep in mind that you aren’t spoiled for choice- the only other option for a drop-top pony car in the segment is the Chevrolet Camaro. But like a perfectly executed Venn diagram, when a gorgeous summer day, a howling V8 and a Mustang’s looks and chassis all intersect, it’s magic. Drive one under those circumstances and you’ll find it hard to say no. Don’t you owe it to yourself to indulge anyway?
2018 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
- Price as tested: $66,088
- Body Type: 2-door, 2+2 passenger convertible
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
- Engine: 5.0-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
- Horsepower: 460 @ 7,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 420 @ 4,600 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight, manual transmission: 1,791 kg (3,948 lb)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 14.8L/100 km (16 mpg)