2011 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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Not since 1995 has Ford offered a 5.0-litre V8 to power its iconic GT model lineup, and the 5.0-litre is back with a vengeance, setting a new standard for high-volume production engines.  The new 5.0 is a DOHC, 32-valve unit that delivers 412 horsepower at 6,500 rpm while generating 390 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm.  The engine features variable camshaft timing and all-aluminum construction to achieve these impressive output figures.  This all-new 5.0-litre V8 represents the next chapter in the development of the world-class Mustang power portfolio, according to Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development for Ford.  GT models for 2011 include a Coupe, Convertible and a special glass roof model. 

The latest GT Mustangs are a force to be reckoned with in the "pony-car" wars.  The GT also notably delivers class-leading fuel economy at 9.0 L/100km via the US EPA rating system during highway driving (the EPA system is more conservative than Canadian government standards).  This accomplishment comes on the heels of the Mustang 3.7-litre V6 that ranks as the most fuel-efficient Mustangs ever and the first production car in history to achieve over 300 horsepower (305) and 7.6 EPA equivalent L/100km. 

The new 5.0 engine tips the scales at 195 kilos (430 pounds) – a weight savings of more than 20 percent when compared to the previous 5.0 offering.  Not only does the new Mustang GT's engine produce more power more efficiently, the Mustang's body and chassis design improvements add to the 2011 model's performance capability.  Some examples: the new Electronic Power Assist Steering eliminates the drag of an engine-operated hydraulic power steering pump; and combined with the new six-speed transmissions, the standard 3.31(manual) and 3.15 (automatic) rear axle ratios offer the ideal blend of mellow cruising and flat-out, tire-smoking acceleration.  Convertible models provide enhanced structural rigidity with a 12 percent improvement in lateral stiffness.  A front strut cross brace is now standard and the "V" brace has been strengthened by adding gussets.  The secondary crossmember has also been stiffened while a front "Z" brace has been added, connecting the primary and secondary crossmembers.  Stiffening foam was also added to the A-pillars for increased strength. 

Aerodynamic enhancements include a new front fascia, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, an elevated (taller) air dam along with an added rear decklid seal. 

In terms of design and styling, while the 2011 Mustang GT is not dramatically different from the 2010, new fender badges and side trim join a new engine cover, and the speedometer display is bumped up to 260 km/h (160 mph), while the tachometer redline increases from 6,500 to 7,000 rpm.  Two new colours have been added to the exterior palette of Canadian models for 2011: Race Red and Ingot Silver, while Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat is only available in the US. 

My 5.0 GT test car was a Convertible equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox and featured a Kona Blue metallic exterior with a Charcoal top and interior trimmed in Satin-finished metal trim accents.  The base sticker read $41,699, while the addition of all packages and options can elevate the final amount to $52,379.  A California Special package can be selected too, but the top price doesn't change. 

The 2011 Mustang GT Convertible is ideal for drivers with the need for speed and fresh air motoring.  The 5.0-litre V8 emits an incredibly sweet rumble from its exhaust in any gear, across the entire broad torque range.  Acceleration comes swiftly and pleasingly with either the manual or automatic transmission.  The manual gearbox delivers short throws smoothly and precisely, with a little attention needed for sixth gear due to the spring loading. 

The ride quality is firm and stable, yet compliant and comfortable, with handing characteristics totally civilized, even when pushed to the edge.  Interior ergonomics optimally place switchgear and controls for ease of use and functionality. There's a power outlet positioned high on the dash, between the air vents that is ideal for plugging in a radar detector, while another resides in the centre console for other accessories such as a cell phone, iPod or MP3 player which may all be controlled through Ford's amazing "SYNC" telematics system. 

During my test drive at Mustang's press launch, a comparison dragstrip acceleration test was set up between the new Camaro SS V8 and the 2011 Mustang GT – both with automatic gearboxes.  Given my nearly identical reaction time to the "Christmas Tree" staging lights for both vehicles, the Mustang achieved a speed of 135.41 km/h (84.14 mph) in 8.902 seconds, while the Camaro turned 127.42 km/h (79.18 mph) in 9.434 seconds. 

The return of the 5.0-litre V8 that powers the 2011 Mustang GT is a most welcome addition.  It not only delivers admirable power and performance levels, but also great driving fun while enjoying a heightened level of efficiency.  It's a wild horse that's indeed tamable.  Oh, and there are option packages available for personalization as well as a serialized, race-ready, non street legal BOSS version and a Grand-Am certified Homologation Package.  Both may be ordered through your friendly Ford dealer, but have a healthy (make that very healthy) checkbook in hand!

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Ford, 2011, Mustang GT, $30,000 - $39,999,

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