The 2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible should be a car that I’m in love with. My mother used to run me to primary school in our family XW GT, so my Ford schooling started early. In truth, I’ve owned more Holden product than Ford over the years, though (certainly in terms of classic metal), and I’m generally into any muscle car from any brand.
Still, a new muscle car with a thunderous V8 engine and RWD should be a guaranteed way of appealing to someone who got into the game largely on the back of such affordable, boisterous, performance icons. We accept all manner of things from old machinery, though, that simply won't cut it in 2019.
Pricing isn’t what you’d call cheap, starting at $74,338 for the automatic convertible V8 as tested here, but then there’s precious little on offer to compare it with. Certainly not in this pricepoint. So if you want a beefy, brawny V8 drop-top that is driven via the rear wheels, this is it.
Read our pricing and specification guide for more details, but standard equipment is impressive and highlights include: 19-inch wheels, 12-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, rear-view camera, active cruise control, heating and ventilation for the front seats, digital driver’s display, satellite navigation, leather trim and a (much louder thank you) sports exhaust.
The Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system is excellent and Apple CarPlay worked faultlessly during our testing. I had a crack at Android Auto as well, and after a few initial connection glitches, it too worked nicely. Some CarAdvice testers don’t love the graphic appearance of SYNC 3, but that aside, it’s excellent in terms of the interface between driver and machine.
First up, forget the rear seats exist. In fact, room back there is so tight even with shorter adults up front, you’re left wondering why Ford even bothered with them at all. A larger parcel shelf that added to the boot space would have been significantly more useful. If you rack the front passenger seat all the way forward, you could fit someone into the second row for a short trip – but only just.
The front seats are excellent, though. In fact, the standard pews are so good (by that I mean comfortable and supportive) that I’m not sure why you’d bother optioning the Recaros where applicable. I don’t see any need for them in the Mustang.
Gone are many of the cheap plastics that were criticised in the previous model, even though the interior isn’t a high-end premium execution. I’d argue that it doesn’t need to be, and the seating position, driver’s display, and general dynamics of the cabin suit the genre nicely. There’s just enough storage (the cupholders are way less annoying than they are in the manual, too), and the glovebox has enough space for items you might want to keep out of sight.
The driving position is one that I really like, with the long nose disappearing out in front of you, and a shorter overhang behind. The best way to access rear three-quarter visibility is to drop the roof, but with it up, there is a bit of a blind-spot issue thanks to the large section of black material. The rear-view camera, though, is excellent.
The boot is useful, too, especially when you consider it has to house a fairly hefty soft-top when you drop it down. It does a good job of hiding that heft, and delivers more than enough space (408L) for the daily grind or two-up weekends away.
Press the starter button and the main reason you bought a Mustang shrieks into sharp focus. The new exhaust note is loud, raucous, a little offensive, and sharp – in other words, exactly the way a powerful V8 should be. Unlike V8s of old, though, this one delivers the bark to match the bite.
I never thought I’d actually advocate the purchase of a manual gearbox over an automatic, certainly not when it’s to be used as a daily driver and mated to a lazy V8. However, the Mustang has confounded me in that regard. I’ve pontificated long and hard with Anthony Crawford about it – he bought a manual Bullitt – and having driven that car as well as other Mustangs with manual transmissions in the past few months, it’s definitive for me.
The new Mustang is simply better with a manual gearbox.
The engine is sensational. The 10-speed automatic not so much. Whether it’s a truck gearbox that has been forced to work in a platform it wasn’t designed for, or it’s simply an electronic/shift tuning issue, the combination of gear shifting and throttle response makes for an uncomfortable daily driver. Yes, traffic isn’t supposed to be its forte, but as we always say, there’s plenty of traffic before you get to the fun stuff.
First of all, it constantly hunts for high gears. Yes, that theory aids fuel economy, but running along in ninth at 60km/h doesn’t make any sense. Certainly not when it needs to drop back to third or even second every time you lean on the throttle.
Secondly, it seems to be constantly shifting between gears. That might seem obvious with a 10-speeder, but it’s still annoying – especially in traffic, where it’s a never-ending shuffle. Thirdly, the throttle feels so snatchy, sensitive and jerky, no-one at CA who drove it was able to find a way to drive it smoothly. Again, that’s annoying in the give and take, day-to-day stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, though, the gearbox doesn’t mean you don’t buy a Mustang, it just means you don’t buy an automatic Mustang. Problem is, the convertible as tested here is auto only. So, you’ll have to live with the foibles around town. Find a quiet piece of road, though, and nail the throttle – especially in Sport+ or Race mode – and the Mustang comes to life immediately. It’s fast, too, the rapid building of speed accompanied by the bellowing V8 engine – louder for the new model and all the better for it.
While the nature of the constant gear changes is a pain around town, it’s not even remotely an issue at speed, and you soon forget the annoyances you had with it previously. The general chassis balance, suspension compliance and competence, and the steering precision, mean you can enjoy driving the Mustang rapidly with none of the vagaries of Mustangs of old.
The 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ engine thumps out a snarling 339kW and 556Nm. Peak power is generated at 7000rpm, which is ideal if you enjoy nudging the engine up to redline. The noise will ensure you do quickly start to enjoy it, I can guarantee you. Peak torque is served up at 4600rpm, which is right in the meat of the rev range, and ideal for most driving situations where you want a thump in the back.
Against an ADR fuel claim of 9.5L/100km, I managed to get the Mustang using high 11s and low 12s in heavy traffic (impressive), and well under the 9.5 claim on a prolonged highway run. Depending on how heavy you are with the throttle, of course, you’ll find a spectrum of usage that is more than acceptable for a car of this nature.
Detractors used to make the snide remarks about American cars only going in a straight line or, at best, turning left. Not any more. The new Camaro and the Mustang both have abilities far beyond muscle cars from previous eras. The Mustang is a genuinely fast, genuinely capable, two-door. The fact you can drop the roof on our test example is a bonus.
On that note, there is some scuttle shake, but nothing too serious to warrant a real whinge. I’d still buy a hardtop if it were my money, but if you like the convertible experience, the Mustang is a good one. The roof lowers – and raises – quickly, it sits neatly behind the rear seats, doesn’t thieve too much boot space, and with either just the front or alternatively both front and rear windows up, there’s no nasty buffeting and wind turbulence in the cabin.
While the Mustang gets a suite of safety equipment, it’s worth noting here (and if I didn’t someone would complain in the comments section and claim I am being paid by Ford) that it gets a three-star safety rating. It’s not ideal in a situation where five stars is the number manufacturers strive for, and it’s something for potential buyers to be aware of. In my experience, every Mustang owner I’ve ever spoken to knows exactly what the safety rating is, and couldn’t care less.
There’s a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and capped-price servicing available over an impressive 10-year period. Services run around the $500 mark, and Ford even works in a roadside-assistance programme as well.
So, does the convertible V8 Mustang fulfil the brief? It really does, even if I don’t personally gel with the gearbox despite plenty of effort. As my issues with CVTs have highlighted, some people won’t care one iota about the 10-speed’s predilection for weirdness. Further, you could argue that the convertible is the cruiser in the range anyway and isn’t required to be a precision instrument.
It looks beautiful with the roof down, and while some of you have opined that you don’t like the revised styling, I don’t have an issue with that. So far as remotely affordable, V8-powered, RWD muscle cars go, the Mustang is a very good one. If you need the wind-in-your-hair experience, test the drop-top. For mine, though, it’s a manual hardtop. Still, the Mustang remains solid value for money.