We’re right in the middle of winter, and it’s around this time that we begin planning summer holidays and escapes from the cold, crispy starts and frosted-over windscreens. Now is also the time to daydream about convertibles and the summer road trips that can be had. We’ve taken the legwork out of that research, by hitting the blacktop in one of the hottest (and few four-seat) convertibles on the market. We’re talking of course, about the all-new 2016 Ford Mustang.
We ventured down Victoria’s Great Ocean Road in the latest version of the iconic Ford Mustang — our car being a Triple Yellow Mustang GT Convertible with a raspy V8 engine under the bonnet.
The Great Ocean Road is a 243km stretch of blacktop that runs from the outskirts of Torquay through to just outside Warrnambool.
The windy road gives drivers, and passengers, the chance to soak in some of the most amazing scenery you’re ever likely to see. Additionally, it also offers an awesome stretch of corners.
The Ford Mustang starts from $45,990 (before on-road costs) in turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost coupe form, with the 5.0-litre V8 GT coupe demanding an extra $11,500. Convertible versions of both the EcoBoost and GT command a price premium of $9000, making our Mustang GT Convertible a $66,490 (before on-road costs) proposition.
For that money you get a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine producing 306kW of power and 530Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.
While it’s easy to save a few dollars and wind up with the 2.3-litre four-cylinder Mustang, it’s the V8 that really makes sense as a convertible. After all, a convertible is not just about soaking up rays, it’s about soaking up sound waves, and the Mustang V8 GT Convertible ticks both boxes.
The electric roof is manually released with a lever and then retracted with a button, the process taking nine seconds. But, it can only be operated while the car is stationary, which is a little frustrating.
Once retracted, there’s still enough luggage capacity to fit a few bags with 324 litres on offer — only 59L less than the Fastback Coupe.
We loaded in a couple of bags, and three passengers, and hit the road. By chance, we managed to score a stunning day, with only light winds and temperatures in the high-20s.
While the Great Ocean Road stretches almost 250km, we decide to pull up stumps in Lorne – around an hour down the Great Ocean Road – for lunch. It’s the perfect destination for a day trip from Melbourne, and offers a good combination of corners and sights to keep passengers, and drivers, happy.
Along the way, drivers pass sections of road adjacent to rock faces, and it’s here where the Mustang GT really shines. The V8’s exhaust note bellows deeply and bounces off the walls, echoing through the cabin.
The noise inside the cabin is further helped by an induction valve that forces some of that V8 grumble into the cabin, making the Mustang GT an even more exciting drive – with or without the roof.
Big, four-seat convertibles like the Mustang generally suffer from a heap of scuttle shake, which is when one corner of the car hits a bump and the force of the vibration is reverberated across the chassis. And, while the Mustang GT has a bit of this, it’s certainly not as bad as some more expensive cars that shall remain nameless. With that said, it’s surprisingly nimble given its size, and enjoys long sweeping bends the most.
The meaty 275mm-wide rear Pirelli P Zero tyres offer a commendable amount of grip and traction, both from a standing start and on tighter-radius turns. It’s easy to lock in a gear using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and stand on the throttle without risking the rear end stepping out.
Even if it does step out, several different drive and steering modes can be selected to make the most of it. The most aggressive setting is the ‘Track’ mode, which derestricts the stability control intervention, and allows the back-end of the car to move about.
When it comes to the new Mustang though, there’s no getting away from the fact the interior feels cheap. As the sun hits some of the plastic-clad surfaces, the price of the car begins to make sense. It’s a bang-for-buck package that aims to offer a lot without breaking the bank.
As we neared Lorne, a quick check of the passengers revealed that the rear seats aren’t overly comfortable or spacious. My tall male rear passenger was a little cramped, even with the front passenger seat moved forward.
One of the elements that impressed, however, was the lack of wind buffeting in the cabin with the windows up. The height of the windscreen and cocoon-like effect of the windows being up doing an excellent job of limited it.
If you’d like a checklist of things to see on your trip to Lorne on the Great Ocean Road, here are a few:
Yes, it’s cold. Yes, it’s dreary. But, fear not! Summer is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to place an order on a hot new convertible. It may not be a bright yellow Ford Mustang, but whatever it is, it’s the perfect catalyst for a long drive down the coast.
Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Ford Mustang Convertible images by Paul Maric and Tom Fraser.