The Ford Mustang GT is one of the original pony cars. The original being the Plymouth Barracuda which debuted 2 week before the Mustang did in 1964. True fact. But in a world of shifting ideology and political correctness, does a V8 Mustang still have a place?
Engine – The Mustang can be equipped with a 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder, a supercharged 5.2L V8, or the classic 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 which is what this GT convertible has. It produces 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque (343 kW & 570 Nm) which sounds absolutely glorious when you put your foot down. This particular Mustang also came equipped with an active exhaust system that has four different settings ranging from Quiet to Track.
While the engine may not produce as much torque as its Camaro SS counterpart, it can still propel the 1,783 kg (3,932 lbs) body to 100 km/h in around 4 seconds which coincidentally is the same time as the Camaro SS. The peak torque figure is in the mid rpm range at 4,200 rpms while the peak power figure is pretty much right up the redline at 7,000 rpms. This engine gradually builds up the power as you roll your foot on the throttle. Best of all, there’s no waiting for a turbocharger to build boost because as they used to say, “there’s no replacement for displacement”. Of course in 2021 there’s more powerful turbocharged & electric powertrains but they don’t provide the same level of excitement & character that a classic naturally aspirated V8 can provide.
However, because it is an “old fashioned” V8, fuel economy is not the greatest. On a highway it’s not too bad at 10.4 L/100km (22.6 MPG) but in a city, that number is 15.8 L/100km (14.9 MPG). Thankfully if you split your time between highway and city driving, you can get close to the average of those two numbers as I did at 13.1 L/100km (17.9 MPG). But Ford recommends premium fuel which is close to $2/L here in Vancouver at the time of writing this article.
Transmission – The 2021 Ford Mustang GT is one of the last few cars that is still available with a manual transmission. However, this demo vehicle came equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission. While it may not be as engaging to drive as the manual, the 10-speed makes the Mustang GT very quick and accessible to a lot more consumers. The transmission is very smooth under normal driving conditions but when you fancy a bit of spirited driving, it picks up its pace. It’s not quite as quick to shift gears as BMW’s 8-speed ZF transmission but it’s definitely faster than shifting gears yourself with the 6-speed manual.
It does have a couple of odd characteristics though. For example, when setting off from a stop at a normal pace, it skips 2nd gear. As well, it will try to reach the highest gear as quickly as possible. So before you even hit 60 km/h on city streets, it’ll be in 8th gear to keep the rpms as low as possible to save on fuel.
Braking – The Mustang GT Convertible comes equipped with standard 4-piston fixed front calipers. These brakes are really good at bringing the convertible to a stop very quickly. Furthermore, the brake pedal has a firm but easy to modulate feel for quick & smooth stops. If you do want more stopping force, there’s the optional Brembo 6-piston front calipers that you can opt for. The Mustang GT also comes equipped with Line-Lock which can hold the front brakes, allowing you to spin and warm up the rear tires for a drag race.
Handling – Not so long ago, the Ford Mustang had an archaic solid rear axle. It made for very vague handling dynamics with uncontrollable oversteer usually being the end result of putting your foot down on the throttle. Thankfully, Ford modernized the Mustang GT and gave it independent rear suspension with this generation. The result is a true sports car handling dynamic that is easily controllable.
The steering response is quick and the effort can be changed from Comfort, Normal, to Sport at the flick of a switch. There isn’t that much difference between the modes but the steering is communicative and direct. Taking the Mustang Convertible around corners is a joy and it doesn’t feel as though it wants to snap oversteer into a crowd of onlookers at a car meet. The car has a lot of grip and when the rear tires do let go, the slide is much more controllable giving you the time to regain control. The Mustang is now a true 21st century sports car.
Ride Comfort – For a sports car, the Ford Mustang GT has a pretty comfortable ride. Yes, it is firmer than in a sedan for example, but you can take the wife on a roadtrip and still feel relaxed when you get to your destination. There are also adaptive dampers that you can option to your Mustang GT if you want to be able to change the stiffness of the ride.
Interior Space – The front seats have loads of space, even for tall adults like myself at 6’4”. The seats have wide side bolsters to keep you firmly planted when you’re driving enthusiastically around corners but enough padding to keep your bum comfortable. The rear seats are for storage or perhaps little kids if a short adult is in the seat in front. Legroom is virtually non-existent in the back. As for the trunk, it’s actually quite spacious, nevermind for being a convertible. It has 324 L (11.4 cu-ft) which is only 59 L (2.1 cu-ft) less than the Mustang GT Fastback. Better yet, it’s a whopping 117 L (4.1 cu-ft) more than the Chevrolet Camaro convertible. Visibility with the top up is also better than that of the Camaro.
Noise, Vibration & Harshness – Starting with the bad first, there is a bit of wind noise when driving on highways but it’s surprisingly not as bad as expected. What’s more evident on highways is the noise coming from the optional 20-inch wheels. But of course the good type of noise that the Mustang GT makes is the V8 rumble and roar from the exhaust pipes.
With the optional active exhaust system, the car can be quiet (relatively speaking, you can still hear the V8 rumble) when you’re driving around your neighbourhood. You can also set the time of when to have the exhaust in Quiet mode so that it doesn’t wake up your neighbours. Switch the exhaust to Normal mode and the car can be heard from about a block away. There’s also Sport & Track modes with the latter being pretty much a straight piped V8 Mustang.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2021 Ford Mustang GT Convertible is only available as a Premium GT. The Fastback is available as a lower GT only trim. The Convertible Premium GT starts at $54,490 CAD ($45,785 USD) and this demo 2021 Ford Mustang GT Convertible had an as-tested price of $62,740 CAD ($53,535 USD). For that money, you get satellite navigation, Sync 3 infotainment system, a power operated cloth roof (however you still have to physically unlatch the roof using a pull & twist lever), a 12-inch digital display, heated & ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, blind spot sensors, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, backup camera, parking sensors, LED headlights & taillights, and ambient lighting to name quite a few.
You can also add different packages such as the Black Accent package, California Special pack, GT Performance pack, Carbon Sport Interior pack, and the Ford Safe & Smart pack.
Interior Design – Ford has tried to bring the current Mustang into the modern times but also to give a nod to the Mustang of the 60’s. This Mustang has a full digital display, an 8-inch infotainment screen, and a row of toggle switches for the drive mode, steering weight, traction control, and hazards right next to the starter button. But over the years, it has kept the 3-spoke steering wheel, the dashboard hoods, and on Mustangs without the full digital display, it has the traditional dual analog gauges just like the first Mustang in 1964. Overall it looks pretty good and most of the materials are of a good quality. It’s only once you start to touch some of the trim pieces below your waistline do you feel the hard plastics.
Exterior Design – Just like the interior, the exterior also harkens back to the days of the 60’s Mustang. The 2021 GT Convertible still has circular headlights, the big GT badge on the trunk, and the triple taillights that sequentially turn on when using the turn signals. The soft-top roof is electronically operated, but as said before it requires you to unlatch it manually, however it cannot be raised or lowered while the car is moving. It has to be stationary. Once the top is down, there is going to be quite a bit of wind turbulence but if it’s too much, raise the windows and then it’s not that bad.
Warranty – The 2021 Ford Mustang GT Convertible comes with a standard 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. Roadside assistance and safety restraints warranties are the same as the powertrain warranty. For more information on Ford warranty in Canada, click here. For USA warranty, click here.
So is a V8 Convertible Mustang worth your consideration? Well if you want a classic V8 muscle car, your only other option is the Chevrolet Camaro. Between the two, they have similar performance but the Mustang is a slightly better and more practical daily car. In 2022, there will be a new Mustang and while a new product is always exciting, it will also cost more and it may do away with the V8. There have been rumors that the next Mustang could be a hybrid, or all electric, or have AWD. But one thing is for certain, dealerships will try to offload their current 2021 Mustang inventory which means discounts for the consumers. So this is a good time to start looking for a V8 Ford Mustang Convertible while supplies last.
Thank you to Ford Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Ford.ca