2014 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Review
Going topless in the last of the retro Mustangs.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 16th, 2013
Internet speculation and our own off-the-record conversations with industry types suggest that the next Ford Mustang will be ditching retro styling and ancient technology like its live rear axle. With the next Mustang slated to drop in 2015, that means the 2014 is the last of the retro rockets that defined design for a generation of pony cars, including the Mustang's Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger counterparts.
We don't know for sure what the next Mustang will offer (educated guesses suggest the addition of a four-cylinder to the lineup, along with an independent rear suspension), but that didn't stop us from indulging in the convertible variant of the current version of the original pony car.
With 420 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, this is one powerful pony. Acceleration is ferocious, swift, and brisk. Digging into to throttle brings grins, skims tread off the rear tires, and quickly drains the gas tank. It's Americana at the command of your right foot.
Not only does your right foot control acceleration, it also commands a symphony. The exhaust sounds are lovely and intoxicating, which only spurs more deviant driving behavior.
Pony cars are supposed to be more than straight-line speedsters, though, and the Mustang's handling is tricky. It's nimble enough for a car of its heft - damn near 4,000 lbs. - but it doesn't feel as smooth or precise as we'd like. It hops in corners when the pavement is rough (thanks to the live rear axle), and with traction control off, early application of the throttle will resort in tail-out slides that look great in movies but terrify other drivers in real life. In the hands of the inexperienced and/or careless, this will lead to trouble of the spin-out variety.
No one expects a plush ride from this type of horse, and the Mustang lives up to that billing with bounciness on broken pavement, along with axle hop and bump steer (sounds like a bad hip-hop duo). It's better on smoother pavement - but then, what car isn't? - and at least the cowl shake has been toned down.
We found the brakes competent, if not quite stout enough in hard driving, and the clutch has wonderfully heavy take-up that leads to smooth engagement. The shifter is firm and precise.
The Mustang GT rocks a variation of the same look that it's had since at least 2010, and with the top down, it looks like a classic beach-bombing sports car, catching plenty of eyes. Top up, it's a bit on the ugly side, thanks to a soft top that isn't seamlessly integrated.
It's the classic long-hood, short-deck Mustang look, and it still turns heads. The retro design may be aging, but it's doing so gracefully.
We can't say the same for the cockpit. We do appreciate the various pieces of info available in the driver's info center, such as 0-60 times and fuel-economy info, and we liked the two large main gauges, but the radio and climate controls are hopelessly outdated, and too many menus must be accessed to change various audio modes or pair a phone (luckily, the climate controls are simpler).
The top is an anachronism. It requires unlatching two levers in order to be dropped, no chime sounds when it's all the way down, and when it's raised, the driver must relatch it and separately raise the windows. It's also slow to go up and down. Hopefully the new car fixes these issues.
The backseat is unsuitable for adults, and the center console is too small for much storage. It's also easily opened by a misplaced elbow. This is one more piece that needs work with the next car.
If the current Mustang must ride into the sunset - and it must, since most car designs grow long in the tooth after four or five years - well, this is a good way to go out. Plenty of power, classic looks, and an exhaust from heaven all make for a solid summer cruiser that can do more than just troll the boulevard. There's also some bang for the buck here - while $40K isn't cheap, it's not bank-breaking, either. It's rare to have this much fun for this little cash.
We expect the next Mustang to finally take a few leaps forward into this century, but for a car that plays on retro themes - and in some cases, retro tech - the outgoing model makes for a fond farewell.
Specs, Features, Prices
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8
Torque: 390 lb-ft.
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city/26 mpg highway
Base Price: $39,750
As-Tested Price: $42,790 (including $795 destination fee)
Available Features: Bluetooth, satellite radio, heated front seats, limited-slip differential, capless fuel filler, rear parking assist, heated outside mirrors, Brembo brakes.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Ford Mustang, click here: 2014 Ford Mustang.