C/D Road Test - 2005 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 20, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Attention, Mr. Ford. We've got your car. We may not give it back.

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    BY TONY SWAN
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY G. RUSSELL
    June 2005

    William Clay Ford Jr., scion of the house that Henry built, current chairman and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, has said more than once that if he could have only one car it would be a Mustang, specifically, a Mustang with a "throaty V-8." We infer the Mustang would be of the convertible variety, the better to hear the sounds issuing from the V-8's throat—make that throats, as in twice pipes—and having finally put the spurs to Ford's latest droptop pony car on test track and byway, we offer the following conclusion: Yo, Billy! Here's your car!

    Do you reject the notion of a Fortune 500 CEO transporting himself in a mere Mustang, when the corporate parking lot also includes Jaguars and Aston Martins? Hey, why not? Beyond the charms of the car itself, there is also a powerful element of heritage. Ford counts every Jag and Aston ever built in its total production tally, but it's impossible for the home office in Dearborn to make a credible claim on the actual founding of either subsidiary, whereas the Mustang is all-American and home-grown in the Motor City. And as a compelling footnote, the first Mustang sold 41 years ago was a convertible, replete with a throaty V-8.

    Billy Ford's preferences notwithstanding, there are two questions to be answered here: How does the performance of the convertible Mustang GT stack up against that of the coupe? And what's the verdict on structural rigidity? Since the second question is the key to sorting the firm from the flabby in convertibledom, let's tackle that one first. In our March preview drive, our man Winfield reported that Ford's chassis-stiffening measures had damped out all but a modicum of "vibration or movement through the steering wheel, with insignificant levels of windshield-frame tremor." He went on to note that the foregoing was "evidence of good cowl rigidity and a tightly constrained structure."

    Winfield's observations were rooted in a short day of driving on California highways. Having exercised a convertible on Michigan roads, we find we must amend our preview take—but not much. On pavement textured with frost heaves and potholes, the Mustang's chassis does exhibit the occasional quiver, and on really severe bumps, the cowl can be seen to jiggle now and then. However, referring to this as cowl shake seems unfair, since there are cowl shakers out there that make the Mustang look like it was carved from billet.

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    Ford says the droptop Mustang's torsional rigidity torques out at 6500 pound-feet per degree of twist. The old convertible was rated at 3000. Also, bending rigidity—imagine a giant grabbing both ends of the car and trying to fold it like a piece of taffy—is up by 25 percent, according to Ford.
    Remarkably, chief engineer Hau Thai-Tang (since elevated to directorship of Ford Advanced Product Creation and SVT programs) and his troops achieved this starting with some of the same basic bones employed in the foundations of the soon-to-be-discontinued Thunderbird, a cowl-shake poster car. Moreover, they did it without achieving T-Bird bulk. The last Thunderbird we tested [C/D, August 2003] weighed in at 3800 pounds. Our GT convertible tester scaled 3673, 150 pounds heavier than the first '05 GT coupe we tested [C/D, December 2004] and just 98 pounds heavier than the one that prevailed against the latest Pontiac GTO in a head-to-head shootout ["Goat and Pony Showdown," C/D, January 2005]. Why the difference? Different option packages. And what did the extra mass do to acceleration?

    We'll get to that in a minute. First, let's put those abstract chassis-rigidity numbers into real-world perspective. As noted, the Mustang GT's body shell can be provoked into quivers, but there's nothing to remind you of the rubbery reactions of a droptop like Toyota's Camry Solara, the boneless chicken of convertibles. On the great scale of ragtop rigidity, we'd rank the Mustang GT a little behind railroad trestles like the Honda S2000, Corvette convertible, and Porsche 911 cabriolet but on a pretty equal footing with respectable entries like the BMW 3-series, Audi A4, and Mercedes CLK—and for far less dough.

    The extra mass associated with convertiblization ordinarily shows up as a debit in the acceleration column, but that wasn't the case here. Even though our droptop tester had only 300-plus miles on the odo when it went to the test track, at 5.0 seconds to 60 mph, it was quicker than either of the coupes we've tested, which ran 5.2 seconds and 5.1, respectively. The convertible also turned in the best quarter-mile time—13.7 seconds at 103 mph. That's just a 10th quicker than the coupes, and trap speeds were essentially the same, but it does indicate that the 4.6-liter SOHC 24-valve aluminum V-8 doesn't mind a little extra mass.

    Another pleasant surprise was how well this convertible handled the warts and irregularities of our 10Best dynamic evaluation loop. As noted in our March preview, the Mustang chassis team installed softer springs, reducing the rates by 9 percent front and 14 percent rear. The anti-roll bars are a smidge skinnier at both ends, and the front struts and rear shocks have been revalved to match the revised springing. The intent of these revisions was to reduce the shock loads going into the topless chassis, to help minimize body quivers. But a side effect is a handling package that actually performs better than the coupe when the pavement has irregularities and delivers better ride quality in the bargain. For all of Ford's hard work in modernizing the Mustang's live-axle rear suspension, there are times when the GT coupe can be herded into occasional episodes of rear-wheel hop. But the convertible's beautifully damped suspension makes this a nonissue.

    We suppose that on smooth pavement a Mustang GT coupe could be hustled around a given stretch a little quicker than the convertible, with a little less body roll. But the distinction would be all but academic, and we suspect convertible buyers aren't going to be as interested in handling absolutes.

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    There are a couple of dynamic elements that could use improvement. The convertible pulled a modest 0.82 g on the skidpad, for example, considerably less than either of the coupes we've tested. We can mark that down, to some degree, to the softened suspension. However, the indifferent braking numbers—183 feet from 70 mph—in two of our three new-Mustang tests, this one included, are probably attributable to the Pirelli P Zero Nero M+S tires. To be fair, the same rubber got the comparo-test Mustang down to 0 mph in a respectable 170 feet. Still, for owners interested in better dry-weather grip, a change of rubber couldn't hurt.

    Other important performance issues for this or any other convertible are the top and operating noise levels. We have to say the Mustang doesn't score particularly well here. The top is easy to operate—undo two latches, press the button, and 13 seconds later you're working on your tan. You can even do this when the Mustang is moving, provided the speed is no more than 3 mph, although what advantage this confers is hard to discern. Stylin' in the parking lot? Whatever.

    The softtop in our test car also sealed well, passing the carwash test with no runs, drips, or errors. The windshield-header portion of the top is reinforced with hard material, but this is basically a single-layer covering with exposed support bows inside, and it doesn't do much in the way of noise suppression. There is, in fact, a lot of noise here, a decibel or two more than in the far-from-quiet coupe at every data point. The throaty V-8 is very assertive at full gallop—think Bullitt chase-scene soundtrack—and even though it's a delight every time the driver lights it up, it could become a little tedious after a couple hundred miles.

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    There are other noise sources, too. Although softened, the suspension still transmits more information about pavement composition than the driver really wants to know, and the five-speed manual gearbox, for all its gratifying old-timey race-car engagement feel, also sounds old-timey race car. Besides gear whine, there's a subdued rattle from the clutch throwout bearing at idle, and the audio system is programmed to cover all the mechanical symphonics by automatically advancing its volume. This is the optional Shaker 1000 audio, which costs $1295. Our advice: Take that $1295, and get yourself a set of Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires.

    This brings us to the subject of money, and puts us back on the positive side of the score sheet. The base price for a Mustang GT convertible is $29,995. Our test car had a few small extras besides the Shaker audio system, notably, the Interior Upgrade package ($450), side airbags ($370), and an anti-theft system ($255). But even with an as-tested price of $34,080, this car is an unbeatable value—lots of performance in a gorgeous four-seat package that plucks the nostalgia strings of everyone who sees it, whether they remember the '64 original or not.

    Whether you're talking style or performance, there's nothing remotely close to the Mustang GT convertible in its price class. It's a class act. Excellent choice, Mr. Ford.

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    THE VERDICT

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    Highs: Classic Mustang styling, pony-car giddyap, Bullitt exhaust note, smooth ride quality.

    Lows: Noisy inside, vestigial rear seats, overpriced audio option.

    The Verdict: A classy player that's in a class by itself.


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    COUNTERPOINT

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    JOHN PHILLIPS
    I love that when you suddenly jump out of this Mustang's throttle there's no head-snapping driveline snatch. I love that the clutch is no longer a punishment for Marines. I love that the stubby shifter, like a loyal bird dog, gently urges me toward the next gear. I love that I can recognize and operate the HVAC controls. I love that this droptop's platform is subjectively three times stiffer than the Thunderbird's. I love that the exhaust note is apparently the work of Jimmy Spencer and Andrea Bocelli. I love that the ride doesn't beat me up when all I want to do is commute. I love that Dearborn saw fit to invest millions to refine a car that faces no real competition.

    TONY QUIROGA
    Where did this rigidity come from? I'm in disbelief that this convertible is related to the Ford Thunderbird (a car I so callously compared to screen legend Katharine Hepburn). This Mustang might look like the pony cars of old, but the quake-free structure and supple ride give it refinement that its predecessors never had. A Mustang convertible without the shakes is a bit shocking after a youth misspent in a friend's triple-white Mustang convertible—ice, ice, baby. My nostalgia wouldn't go without a fight, so I hit every scarred road in hopes of making the steering column and windshield shiver. Never happened. Like Vanilla Ice, the shakes are no more.

    ANDRÉ IDZIKOWSKI
    I lied to the nice Ford PR woman yesterday. I told her our road warriors were sick and couldn't return the Mustang GT convertible. It wasn't my fault, really, the car made me do it. Truth is, yesterday was the first warm, sunny day after a long winter, and I just couldn't stop making excuses to put the top down and go tearing around in this car. The throaty burble of the exhaust at idle and then the full-on wail of the V-8 when I put my foot in it were just too much. The stout chassis and a really smooth shifter-and-clutch combo didn't help, either. It's another beautiful day today and I know Ford is on to me, but I'm going for one last romp before the GT leaves.

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    FORD MUSTANG GT CONVERTIBLE

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible

    Price as tested: $34,080

    Price and option breakdown: base Ford Mustang GT convertible (includes $625 freight), $29,995; Shaker 1000 audio system, $1295; Premium package (consists of Shaker 500 audio system with in-dash 6-CD changer and leather seats), $1180; Interior Upgrade package (includes MyColor gauge enhancement and leather steering wheel and shifter), $450; side airbags, $370; anti-theft system, $255; chrome wheels, $195; red leather seats and interior accents, $175; convertible boot cover, $115; wheel locks, $50

    Major standard accessories: power windows, driver seat, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting steering wheel; rear defroster

    Sound system: Shaker 1000 AM-FM radio/CD changer, 10 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.55 x 3.54 in, 90.2 x 90.0mm
    Displacement: 281 cu in, 4601cc
    Compression ratio: 9.8:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: chain-driven single overhead cams, 3 valves
    per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake-
    and exhaust-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 300 bhp @ 5750 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 320 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
    Redline: 6000 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed manual
    Final-drive ratio: 3.55:1, limited slip
    Gear, Ratio, Mph/1000 rpm, Max test speed
    I, 3.34, 6.6, 40 mph (6000 rpm)
    II, 2.00, 11.0, 66 mph (6000 rpm)
    III, 1.32, 16.7, 100 mph (6000 rpm)
    IV, 1.00, 22.0, 132 mph (6000 rpm)
    V, 0.68, 32.4, 147 mph (4550 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 107.1 in
    Track, front/rear: 61.9/62.5 in
    Length/width/height: 188.0/73.9/55.7 in
    Ground clearance: 5.7 in
    Curb weight: 3673 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 51.7/48.3%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 12.2 lb
    Fuel capacity: 16.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel and aluminum stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 53 cu ft
    rear seat: 29 cu ft
    luggage: 10 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle; driver only: front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front and side airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, strut located by a control arm, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: rigid axle located by 2 lower trailing links, 1 upper trailing link, and a Panhard rod; coil springs; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 15.7:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.8
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 38.0 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and
    anti-lock control
    Front: 12.4 x 1.2-in vented disc
    Rear: 11.8 x 0.7-in vented disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 8.0 x 17 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Pirelli P Zero Nero, P235/55ZR-17 98W M+S
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 32/32 psi
    Spare: high-pressure compact

    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph: 1.8
    40 mph: 2.7
    50 mph: 3.8
    60 mph: 5.0
    70 mph: 6.6
    80 mph: 8.3
    90 mph: 10.2
    100 mph: 12.6
    110 mph: 15.8
    120 mph: 19.6
    130 mph: 25.3
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.7
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 9.4
    50-70 mph: 9.3
    Standing 1/4-mile: 13.7 sec @ 103 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 147 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 183 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.82 g
    Understeer: moderate


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 17 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 25 mpg
    C/D-observed: 15 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 55 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 84 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 74 dBA

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  2. PSUPef2K

    PSUPef2K #Elite member

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  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Is the Mustang not e-cool anymore?
     
  4. slowbird

    slowbird I am the son, and the heir, of a shyness that is c OT Supporter

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    :bowdown: it's too bad I have sensitive eyes and don't like wind in my face :hs:
     
  5. Ultimate_Ninja

    Ultimate_Ninja New Member

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    Hey, you should get some Car and Driver spinning chrome hubcaps to go along with your biased magazine reports.
     
  6. slowbird

    slowbird I am the son, and the heir, of a shyness that is c OT Supporter

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    You know OT hates all domestics except the Vette and they refuse to ever drive a Ford because they all obviously fall apart on the first day :hsugh:
     
  7. matt

    matt Active Member

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    That's a porky little bastard.
     
  8. subgraphic

    subgraphic OT Supporter

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    that car is next in line.
     
  9. Toodles

    Toodles You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the w OT Supporter

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    Someone explain how the convertible can be faster than the coupe.
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Only if they come in 15s. :cool:
     
  11. matrix243

    matrix243 My body, is ready.

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    thats one quick pony vert.
     
  12. Pogi

    Pogi Official Pointy Boot Guey Ver 1.0

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    my gto is fucking slow now :(
     
  13. 87Z

    87Z OT Supporter

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    ive driven a few 05 gt 5 speed convertibles and they are definatly fun
     
  14. RedVVing19

    RedVVing19 Steve Yzerman > Hockey

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    Curb weight: 3673 lb

    wow
     

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