Ford, Road Test Reviews

2006 Ford Mustang GT Convertible – Road Test

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The Ford Mustang… an American icon. From it’s launch back in 1964 right through to 2006, it’s always been present throughout North America, and even today people look at it with fondness. When people ask me what car I’m driving next, the Mustang always came into the conversation, people were always asking: “When are you getting the Mustang? – You’ve GOT to give me a ride in the Mustang!”

What is it about the Mustang that makes people – men and women go weak at the knees? They haven’t always been the best sports cars out there. Remember the Mustang II? Thankfully Ford stuck with it through the ‘80’s and gave us a serious Mustang in the 1990’s and gradually improved it to what we have today – a 1967 Mustang reincarnated and updated.

First Impressions
Getting into the Mustang is very easy with the large doors swinging open to welcome you inside. The seats are large, much like bucket seats of old, but firmer, with the added bonus lumbar adjustment – something you couldn‘t get back in the ‘60‘s. Using the power adjustments on the seat, it was very quick and easy to get comfortable. The cabin feels quite airy and large, with all of the dials and instruments laid out in a very logical manor. Reminiscent of the past, the dials are large and easy to use, aesthetically pleasing along with the round speedometer and tachometer gauges sitting deep within the pods and the smaller battery, temperature, oil pressure and fuel gauge sitting between the two. It was very retro, yet modern at the same time. Also very retro are the non-heated seats, I would have expected heated seats to be standard issue in 2006 – especially at the Mustang’s price point.

The 3-spoke steering wheel is a replica of the 1967 Mustang, with the silver accents and the three-colored crest running through the mustang horse logo in the center. The wheel is larger-than-normal size when compared to modern designed steering wheels, but not as huge as they were in the past. A modern touch on the wheel is the cruise control buttons that are located inside the spokes. The steering tilts, but does not telescope which is a bit disappointing, as such, I found the steering wheel just a little too close to me while driving, so the telescoping feature would have been nice for me.

The steering is average – not quite sharp – but definitely not the steering of yesteryear. Ford has added a very modern flare to the speedometer/tachometer gauge lighting, by allowing the driver to choose from 125 different colors! The rest of the dash lighting and buttons remain green, but for those inclined to play with the different colors, you have that choice. I left it a purple/pink color for the next person that test drives the car ;>). It’s different, but I think the money they spent designing and putting it into practice would have been better used elsewhere, such as giving the driver a proper dead pedal – something this car sorely needs, or maybe an interior trunk release – to me, this omission is a little too retro. The only way to access the trunk is by using a key – lock them in the trunk and you’re screwed because the rear seats don’t fold – yet another retro feature best left in retro-land. While I fully understand the need to strengthen the car as much as possible once they peeled the roof off, I feel the seat backs could have had some sort of a fold-down feature. As for the trunk space, it is very usable whether the top is up or down, but again, if some type of folding seat could be incorporated, it would make the cargo area exceptional. Having said that, the trunk is surprisingly large and accommodating at 9.7 cu/ft. (13.1 cu/ft for the coupe).

The 4.6 litre V-8 engine produces a nice throaty growl just like the V-8’s of the past – it’s the sound that only a V-8 can make, and I could listen to it all day! The power of the 300 ponies means this car is ready to go any time you want it to. The 5-speed manual transmission is perfectly matched to the engine, offering a nice light clutch and a solidly moving gear lever – a manly feel even. I grew up driving V-8’s, but none of them sounded this good!

Dropping the top is quick and painless. Unclip 2 latches in the header, push and hold the button located beside the map lights and seconds later – open sky! All 4 windows go down at the same time the roof is lowered neatly in to the trunk. There’s a tonneau cover that covers the roof when it’s in place, but it was cumbersome to set in place. I never bothered looking in the manual to figure out how to use it. If I was going to be spending any time on the highway I’d have gone the distance to figure it out because it looked like it would have been an aerodynamic drag and killed any hope of fuel economy.

After dropping the top and going off for a drive, memories of the summer of ‘69 came flooding back. I was 7 years old and I got my first ride in a convertible – a light blue Mustang (I think it was a ‘67 model). The sun, the heat, and the wind in my hair… 27 years later and I get to experience it all over again – but I’m driving this time. Oh yeah. Summertime is definitely the best time of year and the Mustang GT’s throaty growl from the V-8 comes through loud and clear with the top down. What a sweet sound this engine makes – just like V-8’s of the past. Even at idle the sound of the engine is just right. With the top up you can still hear the music of the engine, but road and wind noise are surprisingly low-key. Ford has done a great job of insulating the inside from the outside with this top.

If you ever tire from the music of the V-8, you can always turn on the Shaker 500 Audio system. With two 250-Watt subwoofers in the doors (there’s an available 2x 500-Watt system too) and an in-dash 6 disc CD/MP3 player unit, there’s no shortage of bass or amazing sound. This is one fine stereo system that really rocks! But.. and you knew there had to be a but – you can get it to top-out long before your ears start bleeding. Still, the highs are nice and clear through the 8 speakers, while the bass vibrates through your body making you feel tingly ;>).

The suspension is quite firm, but doesn’t make you feel every bump and road imperfection – it’s very well mannered making driving in all conditions enjoyable. I was very surprised at the solid feel of the Mustang’s body and suspension even going over railroad tracks. A couple of times I got it to feel loose and unbalanced, but that was only when I was deliberately trying to do it. In every day driving it was very well composed going over some rough, uneven railroad tracks – especially considering it is a convertible. When I did experience the cowl shake, it settled down very quickly and normal service resumed – very impressive.

The Mustang comes in a number of variations and options in both the U.S. and Canada – with two engines and 4 body styles to choose from – 2 coupes and 2 convertibles. The base engine in the Mustang is the 4.0L SOHC V-6 delivering 210 hp and 240 lb.-ft torque, and you get the choice between a 5-speed manual, or an automatic transmission. The Mustang GT comes with a 4.6L SOHC V8 with 3 valves per cylinder.

Things that I liked on the Mustang: the info centre that tells you how much fuel you’re using, average speed and how much fuel/miles you’ve got left in the tank before you splutter to a stop. The power outlet in the dash, for an MP3 player I assume, as well the second outlet inside the center console bin. Another nice touch is the one-touch up and down power windows for both driver and passenger. On the downside – a woman thing again – there are no lights for the vanity mirrors on the sun visors. While they’re a very usable square-shape, without the light, of how much use are they?

Standard features include: cloth seats, power 6-way driver’s seat with lumbar control, rear spoiler, vented four-wheel disc brakes, tilt steering wheel with cruise controls, an AM/FM single-disc in-dash stereo system with clock, 16” aluminum wheels, keyless entry, air, one-touch up/down windows, and SecuriLock passive anti theft system. The GT adds: ABS with Traction Control, Limited Slip axle, dual stainless steel exhaust, fog lamps, 17” wheels, and a Shaker 500 watt (2 x 250-watt amps) AM/FM stereo with an in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 player and 8 speakers.

Added to the test vehicle was an Active Anti-theft system $225 [$295 Cdn] (prevents towing thefts and has an interior motion sensor to prevent “smash-and-grab“ break-ins, as well as a separate alarm from the horn), Interior Upgrade Package $450 [$635 Cdn], front seat side air bags $370 [$495 Cdn], the 18” Premium aluminum wheels (P235/50ZR18) $718 [$895 Cdn], leather seats are included in a package ($1180) in the U.S., a stand alone option in Canada [$895].

Safety 
On the safety side; the Mustang was designed from the start to be a coupe and a convertible, so safety abounds. For example the frame includes reinforced side intrusion beams. Other safety features include: Securilock anti-theft system (the ignition key is coded with one of a billion security codes each time the engine is turned off – without the right key, the engine won‘t start) and dual-stage air bags. A SecuriLock passive anti theft system is standard, with an optional Active Anti-theft system available. ABS with EBD and all-speed Traction Control is standard on the GT and Pony edition, optional on the base model.

Warranty
Basic Warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles [60,000 kms]. Powertrain: 5 years/60,000 miles [100,000 kms].
Towing capacity: Not Recommended.

The Verdict..
Like the Crossfire, the Mustang is one of those cars where everyone you know will want a ride in it. Can you blame them? It’s a great looking car with a rich history and yet it’s within reach of almost any budget. It’s just too bad all those drooling guys out there need a mini van to cart around the rugrats – Ha!! I felt sorry for all of them looking at me driving this beautiful Mustang, and they were stuck driving their boring mini vans. OK, I didn’t fell sorry for them – when they weren’t looking I laughed at them! Never mind, they have something I’ll never have – they’ve got the joy of a lifetime going to McDonalds and worrying about college tuition – that’s gratifying, right?

Rear Seat Test: 8.5 out of 10
Sentencing my mother-in-law to the rear seat wasn’t so bad. She liked it back there. She thought the foot space and the leg room was very generous and found the seat very comfortable. Getting in was a breeze, getting out gave us an opportunity to laugh at her, however, to be fair, my wife forgot to move the seat forward when she was trying to get out. By the end of the evening we had it all sorted out and getting out was no longer an issue. She gave it two thumbs up and 8 ½ out of ten. While there’s plenty of room, there are only two seat belts back there, so the Mustang is a true 4-seater, not a pretend 5-seater.

Pricing for the 2006 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
As tested: $31,036 [$40,409 Cdn]
The 2006 Mustang GT Convertible starts at $30,685 [$36,999 Cdn] and the V-6 convertible starts at $24,660 [$27,999 Cdn].

Fuel Consumption: [Regular]
The 4.6L V-8 is rated at 17.4 mpg City [14 L/100 kms] and 27.6 mpg Highway [8.8 L/100 kms]
I averaged 20.4 mpg [11.9/100km] combined (85% highway, A/C on all the time)

+ PLUSES: 
Looks great, especially topless
Goes like stink with a roar that is pure music to the ears
Excellent fit and finish with a very usable back seat and trunk
Unbelievable stereo system
Great fuel economy from a V-8 that’s so much fun

– MINUSES:
Leather seats are not heated … brrrr (remember … we’re from Canada)
Glove box is just that – MAYBE one glove would fit in there if you leave the manual in it
Is 300 hp enough when there’s a 500 hp available? I’ll letcha know…

Would I Spend My Money On It?: 
Yes! (and I think my wife would let me too!)

Immediate Competition:
Convertibles in the price range: Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Mazda MX-5, MINI, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, Pontiac G6, Toyota Solara, Volkswagen Beetle & Eos, and Chrysler Crossfire Roadster

By The Numbers…
Horsepower: 300 @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 320 @ 5400 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.0 seconds

Interior
10 – Quality
8 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
5 – Special Features (Sat Nav/Heated Seats/ Sunroof, etc)

Ergonomics
9 – Ease of Entry/Exit
9 – Front Roominess
8 – Rear Roominess
8 – Driving Position/Controls

Exterior
10 – Drool Factor
9 – Fit & Finish

Performance
10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
9 – Ride & Handling

Ownership Value
9 – Bang for the $$
9 – Fuel Economy

133 Total / 150


Copyright © 2006 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland & Gail Shankland

Also Published at: PaddockTalk

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