Photography by Justin Pritchard; additional photography by Lesley Wimbush.
American sports cars lead the way for big thrills and performance bang-for-the-buck – and most shoppers will find the 2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible ticks more of the right boxes than comparable versions of the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro.
Specifically, that’s because of its thrilling engine, high-tech cabin, authentic performance moves, and some clever and delightful touches. Here’s a high-performing rag-top rocket that’s got a lot going for it – including no shortage of the latest tech on offer from Ford.
Like the Camaro and Challenger with which it competes, the Mustang’s styling is distinctive, easily recognized, and readily identifies this popular sports-car choice from a mile away with signature visuals. Don’t miss the sequential turn-signal lights, monster dual exhausts, and recently revised fascia – which has a more menacing scowl than ever.
Arguably, Mustang’s overall styling is the most cohesive and fresh in the scene. Plenty of detail and sculpting help keep the eyes busy, even on close inspection.
With responsive handling, powerful Brembo brakes, and outward visibility that readily bests the Camaro and Challenger, the Mustang lays a foundation for safe motoring – and backs drivers up with the latest outward-looking features.
These include a back-up camera with decent graphics; radar cruise control that’s smooth, consistent, and trustworthy; and lane-departure alert. Drivers can expect to feel nicely backed up for safe and confident travels, and should expect minimal issues in tackling sudden emergency manoeuvres.
The Mustang’s trunk will accommodate a weekend’s worth of travel gear for two or a decent Costco run, though this not a car designed for grocery runs, but the Kessel Run. Note that rear seats are all but useless for human kids or adults, though a pair of child seats, or some extra luggage, should fit just fine.
Set to my comfortable driving position, the rear of your correspondent’s seat was about a half inch from the front edge of the seat behind it. Anybody with legs sitting behind me would be in for a very uncomfortable ride.
At-hand storage is decent in volume and logical in layout, though some drivers will wish for a little more room for smaller items they like to keep at hand. Thankfully, the centre console bin is easily accessed and deep enough to be useful, and the cupholders are proper, in terms of placement and shape.
Finally, some drivers will find Mustang’s interior feels somewhat cramped for the size of the vehicle. It’s comfy snug, but there’s little extra room to stretch out and relax. If that’s important to you, consider the Challenger instead – the cabin feels more spacious, and will likely prove easier to board and exit for larger or limited-mobility drivers.
User Friendliness: 8/10
In most of your interactions with the Mustang’s various systems and interfaces, you’ll find extra attention paid to ensuring a smooth and intuitive user experience. For instance, the fully digital instrument cluster has fantastic graphics and smooth animations, and is customizable with just a few button presses.
Various functions relating to traction control, steering, and the currently engaged drive mode have their own special toggle-switches, minimizing the need to browse on-screen menus. All performance-related functions can be called up with a simple tap on a single button, too.
The central command system is the latest version of Ford Sync. It’s very responsive, lightning-fast, and requires about 10 minutes of practice before becoming second nature. Even the Mustang’s advanced safety systems can be turned on and off with ease, which helps drivers new to the technologies learn how they work at their own pace.
All said, expect to be fully up to speed on how to work and manipulate all functions in quick order, and with minimal stress. If you’re a techy-type, the all-digital instrument cluster will very quickly become your favourite new toy.
The Mustang offers many of the most in-demand features in this segment today, and goes a step beyond with several additional delightful touches that many drivers will appreciate.
The customizable instrument cluster, customizable digital gauge displays, full multimedia connectivity, remote start, heated leather, adjustable suspension, and four-mode exhaust system are prime examples. Said exhaust system can be timer-limited to start in its quietest setting at certain times of day, for instance, to prevent waking up the kids if you leave early for work.
Other features include automatic lights and climate control for set-it-and-forget-it driving. My tester didn’t leave me wanting for content – though some longer-distance drivers will prefer the Camaro for its built-in OnStar assistance system, which is a great tool for those travelling frequently in unfamiliar locales.
The Mustang’s powertrain is arguably its most valuable asset. My tester ran the 5.0-litre V8 engine (460 horsepower) and Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift.
The so-called 5.0 Coyote doesn’t have the down-low torque of the Challenger 392 or Camaro SS, but it revs to the moon and offers a nearly exotic 7,400 rpm redline that sees this engine continue accelerating another 1,500 rpm past the point where the Dodge or Chevrolet run out of steam and need an upshift.
The surging swell of thrust as the tachometer closes in on the redline will not disappoint, and neither will the sound effects. Set to its most attention-grabbing volume setting, the Mustang GT is followed around by a throbbing, mellow, and energetic burble that’ll rattle teeth a half-mile away.
Full-throttle immediately summons a hearty shove into your seatback that swells and builds, and the 10-speed automatic fires off redline gear changes with a delightfully fast ignition cut between gears that feels (and sounds) great. Other than a few clumsy or misplaced gearshifts, the transmission in my tester typically worked invisibly in the background. When paddle shifted, upshifts and downshifts are perfectly rev-matched in both directions, with nearly nil axle drag perceptible to the driver – though the paddle-requested shifts do come after a brief delay.
For fast off-the-line starts, engage Sport mode and floor the accelerator quickly, but not instantly. Taking a little less than one second to move the throttle from zero to 100 percent sees a touch of wheel-spin leading into some of the Mustang GT’s fastest acceleration – and typically with no traction-control intervention to slow things down.
When a peaceful drive is in order, the Mustang is ready to please. Driven gently, drivers can quickly dial in a softer ride from the adjustable suspension, and quieter volume from the multi-mode exhaust. This shuts down much of the exhaust noise and turns in a more relaxing and laid-back drive.
In its most comfortable suspension setting, the Mustang rides like a semi-stiff sports sedan. Set up thusly, hours-long highway drives are easily tackled without undue noise or harshness. Note that, because of the convertible body, Mustang Convertible can slightly amplify the sensation of shaking and jiggling over certain harsher bumps and potholes.
Relatively good outward visibility helps bolster driver comfort by helping ensure full awareness of the goings-on the motoring world nearby, and I noted no issues with seat comfort. Leggier drivers may, however, find their inboard knee to be crowded by the centre stack, and any human adults who manages to finagle their way into the rear seats will begin complaining loudly before long.
Driving Feel: 9/10
If you still live in Narnia and think American cars don’t handle, steer, or brake, you need to give Mustang (or any of its competitors) a try. To your writer, it’s the Mustang which feels a touch more light, precise, and frisky at the controls than the comparable Dodge or Chevrolet, something which most test-drivers will experience as a more eager-to-please overall feel.
The steering is excellent – quick, heavy, and go-kart-like with a ratio that sees minimal steering inputs required for rapid browsing of sequential bends in the road. The brakes feel the most precise at the pedal in this group of vehicles, too.
Likely, the driving enthusiast will find Mustang to be a little more fine-tuned and dialled-in. This one is my favourite “driver’s car” of the big three, because it feels the most lively at the tips of your fingers and toes.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
Few cars with a 5.0-litre V8 are doing Mother Nature any favours, though the 10-speed automatic and 5.0-litre V8 work together to keep highway revs down, ensuring very respectable mileage during gentle around-town driving and highway cruising. Your results will vary – largely depending on the weight of your right foot. Avoid frequent use of the 7,400 rpm redline to help keep fuel costs down. (Good luck!)
For better fuel economy (and a lower asking price), several other engines are available to Mustang Convertible shoppers, too.
The Mustang combines plenty of feature content, great performance moves, a killer engine, and the most modern looks and interior on the scene into a compelling package that stays true to the true definition of performance – that is, putting on a show for its driver. It’s a car with few weaknesses, many strengths, and some of the very best hardware and tech on the scene right now.
There’s no such thing as the “best” or “worst” car in this group – though understanding the pros and cons of each machine is vital in choosing the correct one for your particular tastes and needs. The Mustang GT will resonate well with shoppers who have a penchant for high-revving thrills, plenty of tech, and authentic sports car manners, all presented with no shortage of modern flair.
|Peak Horsepower||460 hp @ 7,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||420 lb-ft @ 4,600|
|Fuel Economy||15.0/9.1/12.3 L/100 km city/hwy/comb|
|Cargo Space||324 L|
|Model Tested||2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible|
|Price as Tested||$65,755|
$9,050 – Package 401A $2,350; GT Performance Package $4,200; Safe and Smart Package $1,500; Active Exhaust $1,000