By Nauman Farooq
The Ford Mustang has been part of the automotive landscape since 1964 – at least in North America.
It is a hugely popular model, and credits its success to good style with plenty of power, and a reasonably affordable price tag.
It might not be as affordable as it used to be, but it also doesn’t have much competition. It does offer a lot of choice for the consumer, as there are quite a few powertrain options and you can also choose how well equipped you want your “pony car” to be.
There are handling packages now on offer, too. Called the Performance Pack, they can help turn your cruiser Mustang into a track bruiser!
I recently spent a week with a Mustang GT convertible, which was equipped with an automatic gearbox. This car would normally fall under the “cruiser” category, but thanks to its Performance Pack 1 (PP1) it turned out to be quite a lot more car than I was expecting!
Let’s look at it in detail, shall we.
Styling: From an aesthetics point of view, the Mustang hasn’t changed much since the 2015 model year. If there are any changes, they are too small for me to notice – the only ones I know of are the new headlamps, which came out in 2018.
Changes or not, the Mustang is a good looking car, and if you spec it just right, it will turn heads wherever you go.
Interior: Same story with the interior, so while it hasn’t changed much in a few years, it offers good space (for a sports car), has comfortable seats, and you can option in a lot of spec. No one is going to say that the Mustang is the highest quality vehicle on the market (the plastics and trim finishing in certain areas certainly need to be upgraded), but it does the job, plus Ford spent their money in other areas on the Mustang!
Powertrain: This is where Ford spent money, the powertrain. First of all, there are choices. The base Mustang comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder engine (EcoBoost) that’s good for 310 hp. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the upcoming Shelby GT500 model, that’ll feature a supercharged 5.2L V8 and thump out 760 hp.
In the GT spec, you’re somewhere in the middle! You get a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 that produces 460 hp – which is routed to only the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a 10-speed automatic (as in my tester).
Performance & Driving Dynamics: This is an area where this car really shines! I’ve driven quite a few Mustang GT models over the last few years, and they’ve all been good, but the most recent tester, had another trick up its sleeves!
Called the GT Performance Package, it comes in two flavours (1 and 2), and it focuses not on power, but on putting the power to the pavement. My tester, which featured the Performance Pack 1 (PP1), wore sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, had Brembo brakes, and featured suspension tweaks to hunker down it down to the ground!
As a result of all these goodies, this Mustang GT handled better than pretty much any Mustang I’ve ever driven – except for the hardcore Shelby models.
The suspension tweaks took out most of the floaty body feel normally associated with a Mustang convertible, and those Pilot Sport 4S tires are like melted gumdrops – they just stick and stick!
What this means, is when you put your foot down, all the 460 hp gets transferred to the ground, and not wasted away in tire smoke. In my testing, my best run from 0 to 100 km/h took 4.9 seconds – that’s very good for a vehicle of this size and power. In professional racing driver hands, I’m sure the acceleration times will tumble down by half a second. Top speed, well that’ll be in the 260 km/h range – which is a lot! Good thing then that PP1 comes with Brembo brakes, and they do wash off speed quite effectively.
In the past, getting into a Mustang with an automatic gearbox was far from ideal, but the new 10-speed box works quite well. It isn’t the quickest gearbox when you use its steering wheel mounted pedal shifters, but leave it in “S” and just mash your foot – you’ll be surprised how quickly and aggressively it shifts. So, if you’re looking to post the fastest lap times, just let the gearbox do its own thing, and the results will be better.
Regardless of how you drive it, this Mustang GT PP1 would always plant a big smile on your face – it’s really that good!
Fuel Economy: Muscle cars are never about fuel economy, and neither is this one. Despite the 10 speed automatic gearbox, and a gentle run for my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving), I averaged 13.8 L/100 km. That means, your bank balance would take a hit, if you daily drive it, but then, the joy it pays in return is well worth the expense!
Pricing: The 2019 Ford Mustang GT convertible starts at $44,777. My very well-equipped tester, with Performance Pack 1, and many other goodies, was worth $66,505. That might sound like a lot for a Mustang that isn’t a Shelby, but then, it also turned out to be quite a car!
Verdict: To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this Mustang GT, and thought that after my stint with the Mustang Bullitt last year, that it’ll be a let down. But, this PP1 equipped GT convertible truly impressed me, and has earned its place among the best Mustang’s I’ve ever driven!