2020 Mustang Convertible Auto Channel Review | Ponying up 56 years of performance | By Thom Cannell
Ponying up 56 years of performance
By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor and Technology Lead
The Auto Cahnnel
Bullet Points—Brief observations based on a decade’s experience.
Florida is a great place to enjoy a convertible and driving a Rapid Red Metallic Mustang on the eve of Mustang’s 56th birthday was Way Mo’ Betta.
So I put the top down and let sunshine ease remnant flight-induced tensions. With the temperature a balmy 81°F and the setting sun warming the carmine leather interior with its red stitching and contrasting black accents, I felt swathed in an affluent dream machine, a laid back success-wagon.
It had been several years since I drove any Mustang and improvements were abundant, welcome and easy to use. After managing to squeeze both my oversized duffel and backpack into the trunk—there was room despite storage for the top—I looked around the interior.
First impressions; the convertible mechanism was simple to figure out without resorting to an owner’s manual. A tug on an oversized D ring, a twist and it was unlocked (or locked) and ready to move. The top is reasonably quick into, or out of storage and the large D ring could have been comfortable with fashionable nails—which I’ve never had—or gloved hands.
I loved the driver-centric controls as they spoke to me of modern graphic design, of near-manual control systems that don't require a screen and perhaps foremost, the Mustang greeting. Yes, every ignition-on produces an animated Mustang on the infotainment screen. At night there's a pony on the ground when you unlock the door, and everywhere you look you’ll find a signature pony. Is it over the top? Does it speak to the heart and soul of its owner? Oh Hell yes!
What I liked most about the toggle switches mounted below the infotainment screen was the easy control over systems like steering sensitivity; drive modes including track and drag race, which is silly in a convertible (?), as well as more normal settings. An automatic HVAC system fit into a center console I’d deem more masculine than gender-neutral.
Seats, ventilated and heated, were always comfortable. In high-G cornering they're supportive at the ribs no matter your size. Ergonomically, somebody thought through the on-the-steering wheel controls as they are quickly embraced.
Again, the infotainment and instrument panel wake-up is Marvel Comics 'Bang-Pow!!!!' animated, colorful and provides lasting impact. Mustang was the first to offer selectable lighting for footwells and cupholders and Ford improved this signature, which now includes an illuminated pony sill plate.
Headlights are arguably the best I've seen, surely among the top five. They reach far; they reach wide and cut off sharply to prevent annoying oncoming drivers. That's in low beam. High beams are World Rally Cup-worthy. Another feature, paddle shifters are standard should you choose the optional 10-speed automatic instead of a standard six-speed manual.
The base engine, which I had, is a twin-turbo Eco-Boost four-cylinder mill and its sound is unexpected for those accustomed to meaty 5-liter V-8s. Ford has wizard up engineering magic to produce thunder aplenty should you want it, particularly in Sport and the flintier Track and Race modes. The induced rumble would be gratingly irritating on a 24-hour drive down I-75, but under neutral throttle or in Normal mode, the resonance is acceptably absent.
Of course I did have to try every gear among the ten speeds, often remaining in Normal mode and then downshifting into a corner—10-9-8—to 4th quickly and with modest throttle input. With no added acceleration, the transmission rapidly resumed top gear. Therefore I had better control and more joy as a driver while failing to greatly disturb the peace.
The bottled genie is the enormous 350 ft.-lbs. of torque torque lurking within the standard 310 horsepower, 2.3-liter engine. With that kind of power, if you have your foot within an inch of the throttle it seemingly leaps to 55-60 mph NOW, making it a challenge to observe the speed limit. To meet that challenge there’s always the seductive Sport Mode... Of note, 7th gear and under 2,000 rpm the speedometer reads 55 and even in top gear a brush of the throttle brings on immense power. There is bestially lurking beneath the hood.
After a week of driving that included miles on I-75, around town and to the beaches I noticed that the 2020 Mustang was typically quiet, something never said Back In The Day. Its throaty rumble, a gut-busting shake completely at odds with a tiny, 138 cubic inch engine disappeared while driving on the highway, unless and until i demanded more power. The EcoBoost engine was a torque monster (have you ever said that about a four cylinder engine?). Fuel economy was surprising, coming in around 25 mpg overall in mostly urban stop-and-go driving with many, too many stoplights.
For 2020 Ford offers an even more powerful Mustang High Performance Package based on Ford Performance’s Focus RS high-revving 2.3-liter turbo four engine, with 330 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. Ford says it is the most powerful four-cylinder sports car produced by an American automaker. The package adds aerodynamic, suspension and brake components from the Mustang GT Performance Package along with special performance tuning that differentiates if from the standard EcoBoost motor. You can add a High Performance Handling Package that includes MagneRide® dampers, stiffer sway bars and a TORSEN 3.35:1 limited-slip rear end plus higher-performing 265/40R Pirelli P Zero™ with Corsa4 summer tires mounted to wider 19x9.5-inch rims. For a Mustang hard top maybe, or absolutely, but for this convertible it would be overkill.
The Good: On a misty morning, even at 30 mph, a nudge of the throttle would spin the tires and engage the ESP stability program. Even though I anticipated wheel spin, it proves Mustang preserves its reputation.
Needs Improvement: Of course, rear seating is limited and to gain entry the front seats must be in a forward position. However, Mustang automatically sends the drivers seat fully to the rear for driver entry/exit. I don't think even average height rear passengers would feel cheerful for long.
Cool Hacks: Undoubtedly the coolest thing about current Mustangs are their magical entry antics that appear on every electrical device from puddle lights, to instruments and infotainment screen to cupholders and sill plates. Ford also makes standard its smartphone app, FordPass Connect™, allowing you to check vehicle status, location, and the typical lock/unlock as well as remote start for automatic transmission-equipped Mustangs.
“For the last 50 years, Mustang has been America’s best-selling sports car,” says Ford. “Since sixth-generation Mustang global exports began in 2015, through December 2019, Ford has sold 633,000 Mustangs in 146 countries around the world.
According to the most recent new vehicle registration data from IHS Market, more than 102,090 Mustang units were sold in 2019, making the Mustang the best-selling sports car in the world. 2019 also named the Mustang the world’s best-selling sports coupe, for the fifth consecutive year.”
Copyright 2020 First North American Serial Rights Unless Otherwise Noted.
Original photographs copyright 2020 by Thom Cannell
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