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Ford Mustang GT Convertible 5.0 V8 10 speed auto

The Ford Mustang is one of the few cars on the road whose history stretches back further than mine.

Launched in 1964 it created the “pony car” class of American muscle cars and, fittingly, is the only member of that particular species to have remained in production, uninterrupted, since its introduction.

There's a choice of two engines, one of them isn't a thunderous 5-litre V8 (4754289)
There's a choice of two engines, one of them isn't a thunderous 5-litre V8 (4754289)

So here we are, five-and-a-half decades later and six generations later, and we Brits can finally get our hands on this iconic machine with the steering wheel on the right side.

There are two engine options – a budget-friendly 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost or a 5.0-litre V8, which is under the bonnet of the car reviewed here – which you can combine with either a six-speed manual or a new 10-speed automatic gearbox in either a coupe or convertible body.

The Mustang has only two rivals – BMW’s 4 Series and Audi’s A5 – and offers better value for money than either. Not only is it a substantially bigger car but it also comes with more standard kit.

The summer has been long and hot so it would be a missed opportunity not to put the convertible version of the Mustang through its paces and, while the Ecoboost engine is more efficient, it’s no substitute for the atmospheric V8.

It's a big and can accommodate four adults quite comfortably (4754309)
It's a big and can accommodate four adults quite comfortably (4754309)

This year the pony car has been fitted with all-round independent suspension and given more power to go with an exhaust note that’s just a little bit naughtier. It’s no wonder that my test car was painted in Orange Fury. Shrinking violets should stop reading now.

The rumbling V8 dominates the driving experience and it’s easy to slip into a habit of slowing down and accelerating – not great for fuel economy figures that struggle to reach the mid 20s – just to hear that intoxicating eight-cylinder cacophony over and over again.

It is, of course, fast but the effortless nature of the big V8 can easily disguise just how quickly you’re travelling. The sprint to 60mph takes just five seconds but achieving the perfect getaway isn’t easy because the rear tyres are constantly fighting against the 529Nm of torque that’s trying to break the bond between them and the tarmac.

Quad exhausts mark out the revised model (4754303)
Quad exhausts mark out the revised model (4754303)

There are six driving modes – Normal, MyMode, Snow/Wet, Sport+, Track and Drag – but, even with the last of those employed, standing starts remain a challenge.

Where the Mustang might surprise is when you decide to tackle the tight and twisty stuff. All-round independent suspension has endowed it with proper sports car-like handling. My test car was fitted with the optional MagneRide adaptive dampers which allows you to soften up the ride if you’re looking to make things a bit more comfortable for occupants.

It’s not perfect, however, and mid-corner bumps can upset the chassis’ balance when you increase the pace. You’ll also notice a degree of scuttle-shake, as broken surfaces send unwelcome vibrations through the cabin.

There’s plenty of grip through corners, and the steering has a very well judged heft about it. Gently apply the brakes as you turn in and the nose will stick resolutely to the arc you’ve chosen for it. After that you can employ the rear wheels to do the rest of the work.

The big V8 is effortless in its power delivery (4754293)
The big V8 is effortless in its power delivery (4754293)

The ride is compliant, and the Mustang is largely untroubled by almost anything the British roads throw at it. Body control is relaxed, and the big car can take a few seconds to compose itself after tackling high frequency imperfections, but it never feels so loose that it sways and wallows enough to leave passengers feeling a little green around the gills.

Driving with the roof down is always a pleasure on rural roads but take a convertible onto a motorway and the wind noise and tyre roar caused by other traffic can become intolerable. This is where the Mustang scores a bonus point because, while still noisy, the cabin felt a great deal more sheltered than many drop-tops that I’ve tested.

Climbing behind the wheel of the Mustang is a bit of an out-of-body experience for me, having grown up hankering after one to call my very own but never having the means nor the money to make that dream a reality.

There's a distinct mix of old and new in the cabin (4754311)
There's a distinct mix of old and new in the cabin (4754311)

The cabin feels very much like a mix of old and new – the large round dials, symmetrical instrument panel and double-brow dashboard are very much part of Mustang heritage - but slap bang in the middle of it all, is Ford’s latest Sync3 infotainment system complete with an eight-inch touchscreen, nine-speaker audio system, DAB radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone integration.

Using the infotainment system is a mixed experience. The touchscreen is a little overcrowded increasing the risk of missing the icon that your aiming for and it’s certainly not the quickest to respond to prodding but it’s intuitive and connecting your mobile phone is as easy as anything I’ve experienced elsewhere.

You’ll note that sat nav is not included but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is so, for many, it’s not something that’s going to be missed. Should you want it, however, it’s partnered with an upgraded Shaker Pro 12-speaker premium audio system.

It rides on independent suspension at all four corners (4754297)
It rides on independent suspension at all four corners (4754297)

There’s a middle of the road feel to the interior – a broad beltline of metallic finish, leather seats and steering wheel do give it a little lift in terms of visual interest – and while there’s certainly little wrong with the fit and finish there’s an ambience that helps to maintain the feeling that this is a performance car for the working class and, in that respect, I feel right at home behind the wheel.

Space? Front seat passengers are blessed with more than most will ever need. It’s a wide car so the chances of elbows clashing across the transmission tunnel are practically zero. Headroom is generous, but only with the roof down. Actually, it’s decent with it raised. I’m over six feet and there was never any danger of my carefully coiffed hair brushing the roof lining.

Rear-seat passengers don’t fare quite so well, but they should still be comfortable enough to cope with longer journeys without too much complaint.

Combined economy is pegged at 22.59mpg – when you’re claiming figures this low those two decimal places gain additional significance – but I’m surprised, and pleased, to say that I achieved closer to 25. I could have driven the Mustang harder, of course, but the reverse is also true and I could have been a little easier on the throttle at times.

There's more power on offer (4754307)
There's more power on offer (4754307)

The Mustang’s price – like everything else over the few years since it arrived in the UK in right hand drive – has crept steadily upwards but it remains excellent value. Even with a price – for the V8 – that starts a little north of £42,000 you get a lot of bang for your buck, or should that be punch for your pounds.

It doesn’t boast the agility of, say, an Audi TT and neither can it match it for fuel economy but to dismiss it without serious consideration would be a mistake. It’s bigger than the TT too, which means parking requires a little extra thought, and the interior falls some way short of the standards set by Audi but that engine brings with it a charm that fewer cylinders do not possess. The chassis has a delightful balance that imbues the Mustang with a level of smile-inducing character that might surprise.

The sensible choice would be the Audi TT, or maybe BMW’s M2, but if, like me, you’ve always hankered after the original pony car, then it’s time to saddle-up.

Ford Mustang GT Convertible 5.0 V8 10 speed auto

Price: £47,645

As tested: £52,405

Engine: 5.0-litre V8

Transmission: 10-speed auto

Max power: 444bhp

Max torque: 529Nm

Max speed: 155mph

Acceleration (0-62mph): 5 seconds.

Urban: 14.4mpg

Extra urban: 33.2mpg

Combined: 22.5mpg

Emissions (CO2): 279g/km

For more information visit www.ford.co.uk

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