The 2010 Mustang has been nipped and tucked to keep it contemporary. With the exception of the fastback roofline on the coupe, the sheet metal is all new — everything from the headlights and front fascia to the fenders and stronger “powerdome” hood. The tail end is also more angular. The changes are wide ranging but are still subtle in nature.
The upgrades to the cabin are more recognizable and certainly more appreciated. The new one-piece, soft-touch dash panel and better trim accents are now a match for the rest of the cabin. The heated leather front seats are comfortable and the new centre stack is eminently logical and now features larger buttons. The stack’s centerpiece, GT style, is the loud and proud Shaker 500 audio system — it blasts 500 watts of superior sound through eight well-placed speakers. With the top down, which entails releasing the header latches and holding a button for a few seconds, the Shaker out-booms those really annoying little vroom-and-boom puddle-jumpers and the awful racket the usually young driver considers music. Nice.
The test car also arrived with Ford’s Sync system and something called MyColor. The former eases the chore of communicating with the outside world (the hands-free cellphone feature is a snap to pair) and it allows the driver to control the audio system simply by talking to it. The latter lets the driver personalize the interior lighting. Everything from the classy gauge cluster and its backlighting to the ambient cabin lighting can be customized. It is a nifty way of letting the owner stamp his or her mark on the car without resorting to garish add-ons (no more fuzzy dice!).
As before, the back seat is really only usable when the need to ferry four is, well, urgent — there is little leg space, headroom is at a definite premium and getting back there is a chore. However, if the rear seat is viewed as additional storage space, it works. The convertible’s trunk, at 9.6 cubic feet, needs all the help it can get because of the top’s intrusion into the usable space.
When it comes to power, the Mustang GT is not shy. For 2010, the 4.6-litre V8 pushes 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. This is, to state the obvious, more than enough power to keep the driver entertained. When fired through the five-speed manual transmission, the GT romps to 100 kilometres an hour in 5.4 seconds and accomplishes the 80-to-120-km/h passing move in an equally speedy 4.4 seconds.
One of the Mustang’s true pleasures is rowing the manual box. Unlike so many do-it-yourselfers, the GT’s gate is crisp and well defined. The credit goes to the fact the shift lever drops straight down into the box and so there are no cables or external linkages to blunt the feel. A five-speed automatic transmission is also available.
Sound is the other important attribute of any muscle car. The Mustang GT has a throaty burble at idle that builds to a rewarding roar at full chat. There are some more refined sounds (a Ferrari at wide-open throttle, for example), but nothing raises the goose bumps like a full-bodied North American V8 giving its all. It’s wonderful, especially with the convertible top down.
In terms of its handling, the GT is poised. The front struts and three-link solid rear axle brings a balanced approach. There is enough compliance to weather a rough road, yet it has the firmness needed to counter body roll through a fast sweeper. The one thing that did surprise me is just how well the back end behaves. In spite of the solid rear axle, there’s little axle tramp when the coals are poured on and, mid-corner, the tail stays beneath the driver, although dabbing the gas with a little too much enthusiasm will see it skate out. Thankfully, AdvanceTrac, a very good electronic stability/traction nanny, is ready to step in to prevent it from going too far.
The rest of the dynamics live up to expectations. The steering has a light feel at lower speeds and firms up nicely to keep the driver up to speed. An option worth the money ($1,200) is the wheel and tire upgrade. The stock 18-inchers work well, but the P245/45R19 tires deliver better grip and they fill the wheelwells with more authority. The option also adds a cross-car strut tower brace, which further limits cowl shake (it’s only really evident over train tracks). Finally, the anti-lock brakes and four-wheel discs scrub off speed with alacrity — it takes just 40.7 metres to stop from 100 km/h.
The revamped Mustang is a decidedly decent set of wheels. The GT handles very nicely, it comes with a ton of power and a slick manual transmission.
In the tester’s case, the ability to drop the top iced the driving experience. Yes, the folding lid does limit the sightlines to the rear when it’s up, but, when folded flat, the sweet siren the V8 sings takes on a new life. Of all the convertibles on the market, this is one of the very best.