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Motoring: Despite flaws, Mustang still good with top down

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 16th, 2006

If you are looking for the most American of all sports cars, the Mustang has to be it. While other muscle cars and pony cars have come and gone, the Mustang has been in constant production since mid 1964.

Over the years, the car has had some heroic moments (GT500, Cobra R) and some moment's even Mustang loyalists hope to forget (Mustang 2).

Thankfully, the good times have out numbered the bad, and since the new generation Mustang came out in 2005, the good times have kept on rolling.

We have featured the new Mustang twice in this paper before. First was the road test of the GT-coupe followed a few short months later by the monstrous Saleen S281 Supercharged coupe. Although both cars were great, only one was much greater than the other.

Although I loved the time I spent with the Saleen, my bank balance didn't, since the enormous fuel consumption of the supercharged engine drained all of my income.

Never having driven the convertible version of the new 'Stang, I asked Ford for one, and they helpfully set me up with a GT Convertible. Not only did my test car had all the useful options, like the upgraded interior and those lovely chrome wheels, but it was in one of my favourite colours (grey, yes I like grey cars, always have) and it had a manual five-speed gearbox, just what you need with a muscle car.

How much muscle you ask? How about 300 hp and 320 lb/ft of torque from a naturally aspirated 4.6 liter V8.

That is a lot of power and if you launch it right, it'll sprint from 0-100km/h in about 5.5 seconds and onto a top speed near 240 km/h.

However launching it right is not as easy as you might imagine. Despite the huge reserves of torque, it does have a tendency to stall if you are not careful. Putting it simply, this car likes a few extra revs to get it rolling smoothly. But you can't give it too many revs either, especially when you've turned the traction control off, or you'll be sitting all coughed up in your own tire smoke.

Don't buy one if you like to drive as if you're on a German Autobahn either, since the chassis and suspension are not quite tuned for high-speed motoring. Due to the fact that the Mustang still has a live-beam rear axle instead of an independently sprung rear-end, this car does get unsettled by bumps and tar lines.

It's also a bit unsettling when you have to jump on the brakes, despite the four-wheel disc set-up with ABS, it still doesn't stop quite as well as you'd hope, given the power under the hood. However, despite the power, this Mustang GT was reasonably good on fuel economy. I averaged about 13.7-liters/100km.

With a surprisingly good fuel-economy, it's unfortunate that the convertible top mechanism doesn't fair well. It does have a power-top, but I don't like where the button is placed (a recipe to crush your fingers on closing if you have your fingers on the top of the windshield), the top operation is quite slow and doesn't go neatly under a closing tonneau cover. However, the airflow with the top down is great, you can easily cover long distances in this car with the roof down.

At this point you might be saying that the Mustang is not looking perfect, good in some parts, but not quite so in others. But it does have some other tricks up its tail pipes. You see, the Mustang is one of the best cruising cars I have ever come across and it's also one of the best feel good cars you can buy, especially when you consider the price (base Mustang's start about $24,000 for V6 models, my test car was $41,000)

You see, at most times, all you want from a car are for it to make you feel good, put a smile on your face and the Mustang accomplishes that very well.
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