You could really form a bond with Ford's latest Mustang in Convertible form. James Fosdyke reports.
Ten Second Review
With a 2.3-litre turbocharged engine offering the option of better fuel economy than the traditional V8, as well as a lower price point, this new Ford Mustang could be quite a success in Europe, especially in Convertible guise. The idea here is to provide sports car performance and 50 years of heritage for the same sort of money as a humdrum executive drop-top.
The Ford Mustang has an awful lot of history behind it, almost none of which has been seen in the UK. For fifty years, the only way of getting hold of a Mustang in this country was to import one. Despite this, the all-American muscle car developed something of a following (possibly thanks to its starring role in films like Bullitt), and a fair few were brought to the UK. Knowing this, Ford announced that it would build a right-hand-drive Mustang for previously untapped but evidently existing markets like the UK, Japan and Australia. It's this pioneer you see before you: the first Mustang to be sold officially in Europe. Just because it's an American trying to blend in abroad though, don't imagine that it is trying to be a stereotypical European sports car. This is still very much a tyre-smoking muscle car. Particularly in Convertible form.
We've yet to drive this car but on paper, the prospects look quite promising. After all, you get the same two tempting petrol engines that are offered on the coupe model, namely the four cylinder 2.3-litre EcoBoost unit and the 5.0-litre V8. The roof is fabric and must cover 4.7metres of car. To start the roof retraction process, you have to twist a roof-mounted handle though from then on, the process is electric. Another potential irritation is that this process can only work when the car is at a standstill. Nor is there the option of a wind deflector. In terms of powerplant choice, tradition dictates that you go for the thumping V8, which packs a massive 421PS and gets the drop-top 'Stang to 62mph in 4.8 seconds. It's thirsty though. If you're lucky, a gallon of petrol will take the manual version just 20 miles on a tank, and though the automatic is slightly more efficient, 22mpg is hardly impressive. If you're less fussed about tradition and more worried about your coffers, the 2.3-litre engine will return 34.4mpg in its most efficient guise, but you'll have to face a 104hp drop in power and an extra second added to the 0-62mph dash. European models come as standard with a Performance Pack that gives you re-tuned springs, a thicker rear sway bar, special tuning for the ABS, electric power steering and the stability control, as well as up-rated brakes. There's even a limited-slip differential to improve handling and a driving mode selector, which sets the car up for various road conditions.
Design and Build
In many ways, Ford has played it safe with the new Mustang's looks, changing it only in the details, such as the new headlights. It would be unfair to slate Ford for that though, because the Mustang is such an icon that the company can't really do anything too drastic with it. It isn't like the Blue Oval feels the need to change things much either, because the company sells about 18 Mustangs an hour in the States. The Mustang may not have changed drastically, but it's still a head-turner. The new front end makes it look more elegant than muscular, and the sheer bulk gives it presence. More than anything else, though, it's still likely to be a novelty on British roads, and with the canvas hood of this Convertible version up or down, it'll draw attention. Inside, it's a similar story. The overall look of the cabin hasn't changed that much, but it's still very different to the innards of a Fiesta.
Market and Model
You'll pay a £1,500 premium to own this Convertible Mustang over the Coupe version. Another £1,500 premium buys you automatic transmission. That all means prices starting at around £34,000 for the 2.3-litre variant, rising to £40,000 for the full-fat automatic 5.0 V8 GT drop-top variant. Equipment-wise, all models get 19in alloys, leather seats, two-zone climate control, an 8in colour infotainment touchscreen, a reversing camera and automatic lights and wipers. The GT spec you get with the V8 further adds Brembo brakes, a fussier alloy wheel design, a very slightly different grille, launch control and a couple of 'GT' badges. With all that kit on offer, perhaps it's no surprise that the options list is more or less limited to satellite navigation, heated seats and parking sensors. They're reasonably priced, too; you can have all three for less than £1,600, but we'd steer clear of the optional paint jobs. Solid red and orange are no-cost options and they suit the car well, but the various metallic shades will set you back the best part of £600.
Cost of Ownership
This modern era Mustang isn't the thirsty beast its predecessors were. It's still going to cost good money to run though. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost is obviously the engine of choice for the cost conscious, in Convertible form returning 34.4mpg on the combined cycle and 184g/km of CO2, which is only fractionally higher than you'd record at the wheel of the equivalent Coupe model. Still, when something like a four-wheel-drive Audi TTS Roadster will manage nearer 40mpg and get to 62mph about half a second earlier, that isn't all that impressive. Switch to the 5.0-litre V8 and the figures fall substantially - to 20.8mpg and 306g/km. Insurance, too, is liable to be costly. The Mustang will be desirable and therefore classed as a theft target by insurance companies, and the canvas roof won't help matters either. Fortunately, because the Mustang uses fairly simple engineering and parts from the Ford bin, maintenance ought to be relatively cheap for such a high-performance car. That shouldn't matter too much though because the majority of the parts and ancillaries are tried and tested with no major horror stories to date.
It may have taken Ford 50 years to take the plunge, but the Blue Oval is finally selling Mustangs in Britain. We can't wait to get behind the wheel of this Convertible version. Without a roof, the 5.0-litre V8 should sound just great but Ford says it's tuned the alternative 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine to make nearly as potent a noise. What that smaller engine will do is make the option of Mustang ownership available to more people. With a folding roof, a 5.8-second sprint to 62mph and almost acceptable fuel economy, this variant could well be a hit. After all, there aren't many ways of getting this much heritage and this much drama onto your driveway for this kind of budget. Go on: try one.