Sunday, November 27, 2016 8:00 am ·  0 Comments
This is the third Mustang that I’ve had the opportunity to review over the last six months. My previous models included the 2.3L EcoBoost convertible and the six-speed 5.2L Shelby GT350. I really liked both of these cars and would gladly recommend them. I fully expected 5.0L GT model to impress me as well – but it came up a bit short.
This manual transmission 6 speed Mustang GT came equipped with the 5.0-liter V-8, generating a very respectable 435 hp @ 6500 rpm and 400 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm, up from the previous-generation GT with 420 hp. This vehicle included the $3,700 GT Performance Package that adds a larger radiator, a front air splitter, strut-tower brace, chassis tuning, larger rear sway bar, heavy duty front springs, Brembo 6 piston front brake calipers with larger rotors, 3.73:1 ratio limited slip and 19” rims with performance tires. This is a high-powered car that generally handles very well. But, as with a number of high hp front-engine, rear wheel drive cars, there is a tendency to lose rear grip more easily. I consider myself to be a reasonably proficient performance car driver and quite familiar and experienced with this combination. Despite this, I found the rear of the car to be too loose and unpredictable. Some drivers may even find this fun – but for others not used to this much power combined with a light rear end, this car may be more of a challenge than fun.
With the clutch down and shifting into gear, I also heard and felt a distinct “thunk” noise – something that became more annoying the longer I drove the car. Shifting up or down through the gears was fine – smooth and positive. Once at speed, both my wife and I became quite aware of a constant high pitch whine from what we assumed was the transmission. Neither of these issues appeared during my tests of either the 2.3L or the 5.2L V8 models. I did have a conversation about these issues with a local Ford dealer – who was unable to provide any explanatory information. However, some on-line research identified comments from past GT owners that were similar to my experience.
In its 2017 Mustang brochure, Ford states that the car’s “system has nearly 10 times better anti-lift properties than the one it replaced, providing significantly better pitch control from aggressive starts and stops”. I think they did a much better job of that on the Shelby GT350! Once at speed, the GT settled quite nicely with positive steering and excellent brake response. There is plenty of power and a wonderful throaty exhaust sound to satisfy the driving enthusiast. The GT also comes with 4 driving modes adjustable through the toggle switch on the console. The “normal” mode is intended to provide a “comfortable, controlled ride” but my wife still complained about the stiff suspension that bothered her back. The “Sport+” mode is intended to provide more responsive steering and throttle performance and is the mode that I found most enjoyable. The “Track” mode is intended for track use only and basically reduces but not eliminates the “nanny interferences” to allow you to push the car’s limits a bit more. In Track mode, you can also access Mustang’s “TrackApps” with countdown, g-force monitoring, brake, and acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-100 km, and electronic line lock. These can definitely add to the fun factor when on the track. Finally, the “Snow/Wet” mode that immediately reduces power to the wheels.
Then GT Premium model comes equipped with comfortable 6 way power adjustable front seats trimmed with leather as well as “small adult” rear seats. The “sporty” look of the car is enhanced by the aluminum accelerator, brake and clutch pedals as well as the oil pressure and vacuum gauges that come with the performance package. I quite enjoyed the top down on this convertible during the few days of nice weather. With the top up and cruising at normal speeds on the highway, I found the noise from nearby cars and trucks quite loud. With the top up, access to the rear seats can also be a challenge – if only to put a package there. The front seats do not fold forward sufficiently, forcing you to move the power seat forward. This all takes a bit of time and might be annoying after a while. Certainly encourages you to use the trunk instead for storing packages. Getting the top down or back up is a seamless automatic function that takes about 8 seconds. This car came with the optional $2,000 “401A equipment group” that gives you the Shaker™ Pro Audio System with 12 speakers so that you can really crank up that sound. This is coupled with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment, voice recognition and command system that provides sensible and easy to use interfaces including through the 8″ colour touch screen. The voice command for audio and the optional $800 navigation system is exceptionally easy to use and one of the better ones that I’ve come across this year.
The Mustang GT premium convertible comes fully equipped with most of the personal safety and vehicle stability features that you would expect as standard equipment in a premium vehicle. These include 3-point safety belt restraint system for all seating positions; electronic stability-control; front safety belt reminder; driver’s knee airbag; dual front airbags; front-seat side-impact airbags; lower anchors and tether anchors for children; tire pressure monitoring system; illuminated entry; perimeter alarm; remote keyless entry; and a post-crash alert system. Important to note though is that you need to have the 401A option for blind spot detection and cross traffic alert. A much needed reverse park assist is also a $350 option.
Things to consider
The Mustang GT is a great looking and sounding sports car that will appeal to the car enthusiast. It is also a car that needs to be treated with respect especially on wet, icy or snow covered roads. With the amount of power available, the rear end of the car can get loose too easily in corners and want to swing out. I don’t enjoy a car that makes me feel uneasy when applying power on slippery roads. This is a car to enjoy in the warmer months and pack away for the winter. Over a week of driving in mostly city and some highway conditions, I averaged no better than 18.2 L/100km – a thirsty car indeed.
For the roughly $14,000 difference, I would seriously consider the Shelby GT350 which from my experience, provides significantly better handling and performance.