Rooted in generations of passion and performance
Crackling life into my otherwise sedate hood this week is the formidable 2017 Mustang GT Convertible. This brute arrives on the heels of the Dodge Charger R/T, which brought 4-door octane-induced thunder the week before.
Until Dodge decides to strip the tin lid from their Challenger, as they did back in the 70s, domestic muscle-car “fun in the sun” is limited to Ford’s Mustang and Chevy’s Camaro.
That fun is no better represented than with two simple letters: ‘GT.’ They impart very special meaning to Mustang aficionados, and me as well. I can’t think of any other car capable of transcending age and generational barriers as effectively as the Mustang GT.
While 2018 will bring along a slight bump in the GT’s horsepower, it’s barely necessary. The 2017 version packs enough tire-shredding punch to keep all but the insane happily stoked thanks to the delivery of 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.
While Ford is offering several of its turbocharged Eco-Boost engines in the ‘Stang, nothing defines this iconic brand better than the GT’s 5.0L naturally-aspirated V8. Let me say it again: nothing!
The menacing exhaust-note of the GT’s V8 continues to be one of the most distinctive and desirable sound signatures on pavement north and south of the 49th.
I hear it. I look. I see a Mustang GT, as I’m sure many V8 enthusiasts do. No better automotive advertising exists, other than time behind the wheel.
From the driver’s perch, one looks down the Mustang’s long hood featuring twin full-length creases bordered by hot-air ducts. A pair of classic racing stripes complete the picture while hinting at what’s to come.
With a deep rumble, the GT comes to life. My right palm grips the ball of a six-speed manual short-throw stick. This is Nirvana.
A heavy clutch with more travel than I’m accustomed to lets me know that I need to assert myself if I’m to tame the mechanical beast.
Once underway, shifts are tight and notchy, just as they should be. Pulling-off a smooth lurch-free gear-change though takes some practice, yet I love the rawness of the transaction. There’s something wonderfully retro and equally visceral about the experience.
Try as many manufacturers have, most notably Japanese firms, V8 rear-wheel-drive exhilaration can’t be replicated with front-wheel or all-wheel-drive platforms, especially when they’re leashed to four or six-cylinder power plants, turbocharged or not.
There’s no “replacement for displacement,” and rear-wheel-drive still rules in the historical annuls of automotive performance.
Of course, big V8s need to consume juice to keep the fires burning, and in this case, it’s a whopping 16.7L/100km in the city and a more tolerable 10.2L/100km on the highway. No one ever said that 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds was cheap or thrifty.
Despite needing a firehose supplying fuel, the base price for a well-equipped 2017 Mustang GT Convertible is a reasonable $44,948. My loaded tester rang in at $56,348, which seems high for American hustle.
Keep in mind, you’re not going to find premium-levels of operational refinement here or the most opulent of surroundings. As mentioned earlier, the inherent rawness is largely unfiltered; and to many, that’s a good thing.
Also good is the Mustang’s power-operated soft-top. Unlatched manually from the driver’s seat, it drops in mere seconds, making it traffic-light doable.
I was also pleased with the interactive touchscreen. Ford’s latest SYNC system is vastly improved over earlier versions; a Masters of Computer Science is no longer necessary. The system is far easier to communicate with, and includes capabilities such as swipe and pinch-to-zoom.
Somewhat incongruent with the Mustang GT’s suite of safety-related technology is the availability of Ford’s track-related apps; Electronic Line-Locking being an example. It allows rear-wheel spin while stationary in an effort to heat-up the rubber for improved grip before a drag race.
Also available is Launch Control in partnership with the 6-speed manual gearbox. While Line-Locking and Launch Control aren’t intended for public roads, they’re very cool technology for the track, where the Mustang GT can be fully unleashed.
Depending on road-surface quality, wee dips into the throttle can break the rear wheels loose, putting the ‘Stang into a drift, but thanks to significant suspension engineering over the years, these situations are easily managed before the electronic nannies awaken to ruin the ride.
Of course, when appropriate, the “no fun” nannies can be sent back to the unemployment line with the use of the Mustang’s Drive Mode selector.
On the track or on the road, the Mustang GT Convertible is a remarkably capable modern muscle-car rooted deep in generations of passion and raw, visceral performance. Fortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Price as tested (before taxes): $56,348.00
Configuration: front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 5.0L V8 / 6-speed manual gearbox
Power/torque: 435 hp / 400 lb-ft
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km): city 16.7, highway 10.2
Warranty (basic): 3 years / 60,000 km
Competitors: Audi A3 Cabriolet, BMW 4 Series Cabriolet, Chevrolet Camaro, Nissan 370Z Roadster
- Best sounding V8 out there
- Wicked performance
- Mustang heritage
- Poor fuel-economy
- Heavy clutch
- Lacks premium levels of refinement