2005 Ford Mustang V6 convertible. Click image to enlarge
Story and photos by Paul Williams
Sainte-Jovite, Quebec – Following quickly on the heels (or should we say hoofs) of the 2005 Mustang V6 and GT coupes, the Mustang Convertible arrives this spring for top-down summer cruising.
The first in a planned string of specialty Mustang derivatives, the Convertible is available with the same 200-horsepower V6 (from $27,995) and 300 hp V8 (from 36,795) as the coupes, and a choice of five-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
The Mustang Convertible was designed in tandem with the coupe, but features a stiffer chassis to prevent cowl shake and reduce squeaks and rattles common to some convertibles. The extra metal to achieve this adds 63.5 kilograms to the weight of the car. Optional are new driver and front passenger side-impact airbags.
The Convertible’s Z-fold top features an integrated black cloth “boot” that provides a finished top-down appearance without installing an additional cover. An optional supplementary cover is available, however.
Click image to enlarge
To make its point that this convertible is stiff and solid, and that Mustangs in general possess genuine performance capability, Ford brought a selection of GT coupes and convertibles and a Saleen Mustang to Quebec’s Circuit Mont-Tremblant for some “hot” laps.
They also brought racer Alex Tagliani to show the journalists how it should be done, and to offer his thoughts on the Mustang.
The 4.26 kilometre Circuit Mont-Tremblant, located near the town of Sainte-Jovite, features 15 turns through an undulating landscape in the Laurentian Mountains. It’s a great place to drive a car, and a favourite for motorsports enthusiasts and competitors.
The Mustang GTs’ 300-hp V8 brings these cars up to speed in a hurry -put your foot in it, and you can nudge 200 km/h on the track’s back straight. But you’d expect this from a powerful car with a quick gearbox. What you don’t expect is the poise and balance of the Mustang on the corners and over bumps.
While driving with Alex Tagliani, he deliberately put the car off-line on a difficult corner, while braking. Then it was back on the accelerator.
“You’d think the car would be all out-of-shape now, but no,” said Mr. Tagliani. “Even with the traction control off, we haven’t spun and it’s easy to control. With the traction control on, I can’t see how any sensible driver would get in trouble with this car.”
Indeed, the composure of the car, demonstrated by Mr. Tagliani as he effortlessly cut corners, was not lost on the drivers as they lapped the circuit at ever-faster speeds.
Notable, too, was the solid feel of the Convertible. No loose suspension, vibrating windshield surround or flexing chassis was evident as the convertible behaved much the same as the coupe on the track.
With the top up, Ford says the interior noise levels are pretty much the same as the coupes, such is the efficiency of the insulation and sealing. The Convertible also has slightly flatter A-Pillars which contribute to smoother air flow over the car. With the top down, though, you really get the full effect of that rousing exhaust note under acceleration.
The only mechanical issue observed was that under several laps of hard driving on the track, the brakes (especially the rear brakes) became hot and suffered from fade. But as Mr. Tagliani said:
“This is not something you’re going to experience on the road at all. There’s no way you’d ever be driving this way on a public road, and there aren’t many cars you can buy that have better acceleration, handling, braking and safety.”
Indeed, for the money, I can’t think of another vehicle that equals the Mustang GT in overall performance right off the showroom floor.
Click image to enlarge
Ford also brought some V6 Convertibles to drive on a short loop through the surrounding mountains. This car is no slouch either, and gives you the same looks and comfort as the GT, while saving several thousand dollars. But it’s really more of a cruiser, and lacks the personality and rousing sound of the V8.
I’d take the automatic transmission with the V6, and opt for the manual with the GT. However, for 2006, Ford is introducing an appealing “Pony Package” for the V6 that includes 17″ painted, cast aluminum rims, a unique grille and fog lamps, special badging, exterior graphics, special front floor mats, anti-lock brakes and traction control. The 2006 GT will be available with two choices of 18″ wheels for an even racier look.
Click image to enlarge
But if the GT’s 300 hp is not enough, you can special order a Saleen Mustang from one of the eight specially franchised Ford dealers in Canada. At $53,000 for the naturally aspirated coupe and $64,000 for the supercharged coupe, these cars generate 325 hp and 400 hp respectively. They are also packed with special handling equipment, along with performance interior and exterior modifications. A 500 hp version is in the works (see the Saleen cars at www.saleencanada.com).
The 2005 Mustang got out of the gate fast. Sales have been brisk for Canada’s 2005 Car of the Year. The well-executed convertible version will continue the Mustang mystique, especially in Canada, where Mustang Convertibles represent 50% of Mustangs sold.