Machine Design

2007 Mustang convertible

This was my first real experience with a Mustang since my teenage years, when my father became enamored with the 1965 Mustang and eventually bought one equipped with a 289.

I was relieved with his choice of engine; fearing he’d opt for the standard 200 in.3 in-line six putting out just 120 hp.

When I learned our test car had a V6 and not an eight, I had similar reservations. But I needn’t have worried. The 4.0-liter engine pushes the car from 0-to-60 mph in about 7.3 sec. And the 210-hp-rated powerplant doesn’t sound anything like the old 289. Ford tuned the exhaust on the convertible to emit a powerful-sounding roar that gets heads turning when you accelerate.

The interior reminded me of the old pony car. Dash gages and steering wheel mimic the design of yesteryear. But there are plenty of modern features, including a big audio system, power six-way driver seat, and a tilting steering wheel with a few sound system controls. I thought the leather-trimmed bucket seats (a $695 option) were fine for a sporty car, and tall people shouldn’t have a problem with head clearance. But forget about rear-seat legroom. Only your dog will enjoy it back there.

The top retracts when you hold a button after unhitching two clamps. This is about a 20-sec process that worked flawlessly for us. There’s an inside liner on the top that hides the support struts and gives the top interior a finished look. The convertible top also has a rear-window defroster which works a bit more slowly than that on a typical hardtop.

Our test car carried a five-speed automatic which, unfortunately, does not have a shift-gate feature. The old manual-shift Mustangs had a quick second gear which seems to have gone by the wayside in these modern cars. But we had no real complaints with the convertible’s acceleration. It is not a head-snapping take-off — for that, consider the Shelby GT or GT500 version. However, the convertible has plenty of zip and moves through traffic with authority.

The ride is on the firm side. You’ll hear the car go over small bumps but you probably won’t feel them. Bigger potholes are more noticeable, but we chalk this up to trade-offs in body stiffness that arise in convertibles. Likewise, there are quieter cars, but that should not be a huge concern among potential buyers for whom the preferred mode of travel is with the top down.

Those who factor crash ratings into their purchase plans might note the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Mustang an overall acceptable rating for frontal offset crash, a good rating for side impact, but a poor rating for rear crashes.

Our review vehicle had an EPA rating of 18/26 mpg. It carried options that included ABS and traction control, heated seats, 17-in. castaluminum wheels, satellite radio, a rear spoiler, and pin striping that brought the MSRP up to $30,700. For that price, the convertible Mustang can be a fun car for tooling around, particularly if the alternative is a much more pricey European luxury car.

— Lee Teschler

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