In the car world of weaponry, something like a McLaren can be compared to a scalpel: It’s delicate, precise, and requires a steady, educated hand to wield. On the complete other side of the spectrum, you have the Ford Mustang GT, which is more like a chainsaw: It’s loud, brash, kind of violent and can be operated by any ham-fisted dude bro worth his weight in energy drinks.
Engine: 5.0L V8, 435 HP, 400 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, 14.3 mpg observed
CDN Fuel Economy: 15.4 L/100 km city, 10 L/100 km highway, 16.5 L/100 km observed
US Pricing: 2015 Mustang GT Convertible starts at $41,800
CDN Pricing: 2015 Mustang GT Convertible starts at $48,399, $56,599 as tested (includes destination charge)
And this is what makes the Ford Mustang so likeable. You can just charge into any hardware store and buy a chainsaw. I don’t really know where you would get a scalpel. The Mustang has been so wildly successful over its 50-year lifetime because it’s so accessible: You don’t need to be on a doctor’s salary to own one, you don’t need to have any advanced driving lessons to really enjoy it, and, because it is so down to earth, you can drive it without having people think you’re a snob.
Also, everyone knows what a Mustang is, even your dear Aunt Esther who knows nothing about cars. There are certain perks to driving an icon. Instant recognition is one of them.
Affordable power, ridiculous fun
If you want a fun car with massive power and showy looks, the Ford Mustang GT is one of the most affordable and least pretentious ways to do it. Starting at $32,300 (for the fastback), the Ford Mustang GT is one of the cheapest ways to get into a V8-powered car. My GT Convertible Premium tester rings in at over $41,800, but it has a lot of add-ons that don’t enhance how much I enjoyed the car. If budget was an issue, you can get a base model GT that skimps on the features but doesn’t skimp of the fun.
Pushing the start button and hearing the V8 roar to life makes me want to yell some sort of primal war call into the air and throw a spear at something. Even at idle, the V8’s low, menacing thrumming is a warning to people that there’s something angry lurking nearby.
The 5.0L V8-powered Mustang GT is really fun in the same way that using a chainsaw to demolish something is fun. Wielding 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque worth of power is equal parts therapeutic and utterly corrupting. You know that feeling where you’re trimming a hedge in your yard, and then you get carried away and then suddenly look up to notice that you’ve mauled down everything else in close proximity? It just felt so good you couldn’t stop, right? Well, the Mustang is a bit like that.
One stab at the throttle, you hear the war cry of that naturally aspirated V8 (a dying breed of great engines), your body gets pushed into the seat back, you feel the freight-train acceleration charging you forward and you just want more. You shift into second gear, stab the throttle again, watch the revs rise, and then suddenly you’re at 120 km/h in third gear and getting arrested. Like with a chainsaw gardening job, “Well, that escalated quickly” is a phrase you’ll find yourself thinking a lot in a GT Mustang.
Feels lighter and more agile
Of course, all that power would be useless without handling, and in this arena, the new Mustang is leagues better than the one it replaces, thanks to its new independent rear suspension. Although it is still a nose-heavy beast of a car, it’s not as agile or lithe as some of its European or Japanese competition, but it is still much easier to maneuver at both low and high speeds than it ever was. The new suspension means the Mustang is more compliant and easier to handle, but also that it feels smoother over rough pavement.
On sweeping on-ramps, the Mustang never felt like it was going to give out, so I kept pushing it and it only continued to inspire confidence. The Mustang grips and doesn’t let go (unless you’re up to hijinks and you really want it to), and the steering is surprisingly communicative and quick to react, regardless of what mode it’s in. Operated by retro metal toggle switches on the lower dash, there are three steering modes: Standard, Comfort and Sport. I drove it in Standard most of the time and it never left me wanting, Comfort is downright numb, and Sport sharpens everything up.
There are also four driving modes, each ramping up how sporty the Mustang feels depending on your mood, road conditions and how much trouble you want to get in: Normal, Wet/Snow, Sport and Track. In all modes though, the Mustang can feel ponderous and you can still feel the beast’s weight in tight corners and quick turns, but it’s still much more agile than the previous generation.
SEE ALSO: Ford Mustang V6 vs. EcoBoost
The clutch has a heavy but intuitive feel to it and the easy-to-use, slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission makes an already engaging car even more so. Making the manual even more user friendly, the Mustang has a hillholder so you don’t roll back, and while you take your foot off the clutch, the engine brings the revs up a little so your first shift is smooth and it helps you not to stall and make a fool out of yourself.
The brakes are not overly grabby or hypersensitive, and do a fantastic job in bringing the freight train to a halt. There are more lithe cars out there, but the Mustang gets the job done. The new Mustang GT feels more refined and communicative than the previous generation model. It doesn’t feel cheap any more, which is a welcome change. The whole experience just feels a lot smoother.
A more refined interior with terrible infotainment
Inside, the Mustang continues this newfound refinement by keeping the retro looks but making everything more luxurious and more streamlined. The materials used inside feel substantial and there isn’t a lot of hard plastic used. There’s a lot brushed aluminum, which looks slick, feels rich and is easy to keep clean. It’s a classy look. Where the old Mustang’s interior was clunky and cheap, this new one is really well done: The layout is functional, logical and user friendly and there are a lot of little cubbies and places to store things like cellphones and the speeding tickets you will inevitably start collecting.
SYNC, living up to all stereotypes of the maligned infotainment system, is frustrating. Although it is relatively easy to use and set up, the reaction times are painfully slow, the voice instructions are overly nanny-ish, it never understands your voice commands, and once during my week-long test, the whole system just froze up and crashed. Unfortunately, Ford isn’t one of the automakers that is jumping on board with Apple or Google to offer infotainment systems that sync with your cellphone. The touchscreen also gets dirty very quickly with fingerprints.
One other downside to the Mustang is a lack of rear seat room. With the convertible top up, headroom is slim, and if there’s anyone over 5’9 sitting in the front seat, good luck trying to fit behind them. The only other iffy point is the sightlines from the driver seat: with the top up, blind spots are significant, and that long, bulging hood means it can be difficult to gauge where the front corners are. Solution: Always drive with the top down and back into all the parking spots — the backup camera and parking sensors work wonders.
The Verdict: 2015 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Review
I really like when cars make a statement. The Mustang GT makes a very loud statement, and especially when it’s painted in a bright eff-you yellow, that statement is a big middle finger. What the Mustang lacks in pretension it gains in attitude. Where the previous-generation Mustang GTs used to be unwieldy beasts, the upgrades mean that they can be comfortable cruisers or corner carvers depending on your mood. The Mustang’s chainsaw personality is what sets it apart from other cars and if I needed a weapon, I’d pick a chainsaw over a scalpel in a heartbeat.
— Jodi Lai (@DrivingMissJodi) June 10, 2015
— Jodi Lai (@DrivingMissJodi) June 15, 2015
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