When Ford originally introduced its Mustang convertible in 1964, it was powered by a 260-cubic-inch (4.3-litre) cast-iron V-8 engine that developed more than 160 horsepower. This powerplant was considered to be a mechanical marvel, thanks to its relatively small size, light weight, and adaptability to high performance upgrades. It was later bumped up to 289 cubic inches and more, and Ford sold more than a million of the first-generation Mustang in its first year.
Forty-six years later, the Mustang convert's base engine was an all-aluminum V-6 engine that had smaller displacement, yet developed almost twice as much power as the original V-8. It joined a 5.0-litre V-8 and a high-performance Shelby edition. Transmissions were a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
The V-6 manual gearbox combination took the 2011 Mustang convert from 0-to-100 km/h in about six seconds. But buyers should not look for a manual transmission that shifts as smoothly as something from Honda or Nissan; this iteration of the Mustang was a big, rear-drive American pony car, with a comparatively heavy and stiff shift mechanism.
The convertible featured a lined top with a heated glass rear window, and it deployed in about 15 seconds. A pair of levers had to be manually unlocked and disengaged on the windscreen header, and the power button was located overhead.
Once the top was down, you understood why some folks wouldn't be without a convertible. As well as improving all-round visibility, it gave this pony car a new dimension in driveability. Not to mention making parallel parking a whole lot easier. However, rearward visibility was extremely poor with the top up.
Equipment level was decent: air conditioning, one-touch up-and-down power front windows, tilt steering, speed-sensitive sound system, and keyless entry were all standard, and you could order the "interior upgrade" package, which included Sync, Sirius satellite radio, and an upgraded, 500-watt sound system.
No safety recalls to report, either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The latter organization, however, has 22 technical service bulletins out there, including problems with unco-operative outside door handles, misfiring and rough idle issues, a range of electrical gremlins (often involving Ford's MyTouch computer interface), and shifting difficulties in cold weather with the manual gearbox. This last problem is being investigated by the NHTSA.
Consumer Reports gives the 2011 Mustang its "Good Bet" designation, but there are some flies in the ointment. The transmission(s), body hardware, and climate control systems are all major problem areas, and C.R. said that expected reliability of this car when new, was a paltry two per cent above average.
Marketing researcher, J.D. Power, gives this one an "about average" grade for overall quality, but below average marks for powertrain quality.
From a base price of less than $32,000 in 2011, the Mustang Convertible has dropped by $10,000-$15,000, depending upon the model and trim level. The V-8 versions cost about $5,000 more than the V-6, and the Shelby GT500 is another $15,000 on top of that.
2011 Mustang Convertible
Original Base Price: $31,399; Black Book: $21,675; Red Book: $15,900
Engine: 4.7-litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 305 hp/280 ft-lb
Transmission: Six-speed manual/six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.1 city/6.9 highway
Alternatives: Volkswagen Eos, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, BMW 135i Cabrio, Chrysler Sebring Convertible
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