Review and photos by Bob McHugh

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

The Ford Mustang went full-circle in its evolutionary path with the introduction of an all-new, yet familiar-looking 2005 model year edition. Without a doubt this is the closest re-incarnation of the original sixties ‘pony car’, a car that for many people is more than a car; it’s an American auto icon.

Over the last 40 years the Mustang has morphed into a variety of configurations that included some forgettable adaptations (have you forgotten the Mustang II?). There was even talk of a front-drive Mustang based on the Ford Probe not too long ago, but I doubt that you could find anyone at Ford today who would even admit to an association with that idea.

The ’05 Mustang is already a market success, it’s the Canadian Car of the Year, and the reviews I’ve seen have all been extremely positive, some even gushing to the point of embarrassment. I agree that the new Mustang has knock-out good looks, but auto technology has come a long way since the sixties and this car doesn’t further it.

Can’t complain about the retro price, the $27,995 base price of the Mustang Convertible is a steal. It comes with a 4.0-litre V6 engine and a 5-speed manual transmission (auto is a $1,220 addition). A GT trim (starting at $36,795) is the only other version and comes with a standard 4.6-litre V8. For the die-hard Mustang enthusiast this will, of course, be the preferred power-provider.

The looks
Verdict

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

It’s all there: the long hood, short rear deck, the shark-attack nose, even the fake side air vents and retro-style taillights. It would make you wonder if it’s even worth restoring an original – but that’s another article.

In addition to Canadian Car of the Year, the Mustang also captured the ’05 Design of the Year award (also sponsored by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada). A well proportioned, strikingly handsome car with great charisma, it was the ‘must drive’ car at the annual AJAC Test-Fest evaluation event last October.

The Mustang design also lends itself splendidly to a soft-top conversion and, to my eyes, it’s even better looking then the coupe. The test GT model came in Torch Red paint with a black top (tan is the other colour choice) and machined cast aluminum wheels (a $250 option – painted aluminum wheels are standard), a real head-turner.


The inside
Verdict

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

Interior upgrades to the test car included red leather upholstery, red floor mats and other trim enhancements and brought the total price to $39,465. A longer wheelbase than the previous generation Mustang allows more room inside, but rear legroom is still limited in the convertible. The split, bucket-like rear seats accomodate two, not three rear passengers.
The trunk’s a good size (for a convertible) and very usable. It easily handled two golf bags and its strut-style hinges don’t use up any trunk space in the closed position.

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

There’s an ‘American Graffiti’ café vibe to the interior that’s very appealing, with bright vivid colours and lots of chrome accents. Mustang enthusiasts will revel in the retro interior styling cues that even include the door speakers. A chrome trimmed twin-pot instrument panel with large dials can be illuminated in an amazing variety of different tones, using three base colours that you can mix and match.
Safety equipment

The body structure of ’05 convertible is more than twice as stiff as its predecessor, which also helps protect occupants during an impact. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control, however, are extra cost ($995) options on the base car and side air bags are optional ($495) on the GT, as well as the base car.

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

An ‘Active Anti-Theft’ system is a reasonably priced ($295) “must buy” security option. It includes a secondary alarm sounder, an anti-tow sensor that can even detect if one corner of the vehicle has been jacked up to pinch the wheels and an ultrasonic interior motion sensor that sounds the alarm if someone has placed a hand or other object inside the car.

Available space, contoured seats and seat belt attachments made it difficult for the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation technician to get some child seats to fit properly. If a rear-facing infant seat is fitted in the rear it virtually eliminates use of the front passenger seat. Older forward-facing child seats that do not have the new UAS attachments are not compatible with the Mustang’s rear seat belt system and the tether attachment is awkward.


The drive
Verdict

The low seating position makes the hood appear even longer when you’re behind the wheel. Turn the key, which should be located on the dash instead of its steering column placement, and the V8 thunders into action.

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

The bubbly, rumble of the idling V8 turns to a throaty roar when you stab the throttle. I feel the vibrations run up my spine, stimulating dormant motor-head brain cells. The urge to jam it into gear, slam down the throttle and burn rubber is strong — until a soft voice pipes up from the rear seat, “this car is very noisy. And Dad, can you move your seat forward I need more room for my legs.”

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible

2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible
Click image to enlarge

The GT’s stiff suspension and that ‘live’ rear axle slung behind the rear seat didn’t help rear passenger comfort. However, it did induce more whining from the rear passengers when we got out on the road. The Chrysler Sebring Convertible or the Toyota Solara Convertible offer a more comfortable ride for rear passengers – if that’s important.

Performance tests at the Canadian Car of the Year event (which the Mustang won) clocked the GT’s 0-100 km/h acceleration time at just 5.6 seconds. And its four-wheel disc brakes dropped it back down to zero km/h in a distance of 41.5 metres, which is also impressive.

Surprisingly, a stability control system does not even appear on the Mustang’s option list. Powerful rear-drive cars can be a handling-handful when the road conditions turn slick and most drivers would probably appreciate the assistance – especially the smart ones.

Competitors for the Ford Mustang convertible include the Chrysler Sebring Convertible: $35,795 – $40,490; Mazda Miata: $27,995 – $34,265; Mitsubishi Eclipse Spider: $35,148 – $42,998; Toyota Solara Convertible: $39,100


Verdict

Even though the Mustang is not included in Ford’s ’employee price’ discount program, it’s still a heck of a good deal. Style, performance and value: a wicked combination.


Technical Data: 2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible

Base price $36,995
Options $2,470 (Leather-trimmed sport seats $895; active anti-theft $295; 17-inch bright machined alloy wheels $250; interior upgrade package $535, side airbags $495
Freight $995
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $40,560
Type 2-door, 4-passenger convertible
Layout longitudinal front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine 4.6-litre V8, 24-valves, SOHC
Horsepower 300 @ 5,750 rpm
Torque 320 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual (opt. 5-speed automatic)
Tires P235/55ZR-17
Curb weight 1639 kg (3614 lb.)
Wheelbase 2,720 mm (107.1 in.)
Length 4,775 mm (188.0 in.)
Width 1,880 mm (74 in.)
Height 1,415 mm (55.7 in.)
Cargo capacity 275 litres (9.7 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 14.0 L/100 km (20 mpg)
  Hwy: 8.8 L/100 km (32 mpg)
Warranty 3 years/60,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/100,000 km

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