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Mustang convertible is a great stress-reliever

June 02, 2006|by KEN CHESTER, JR. / Motor News Media Corporation

Time capsule, rocket ship, stress reliever, heaven - the Mustang GT convertible. Smooth, responsive and delightful, this ragtop is a wonderful experience.

Built for Ford in Flat Rock, Mich., by AutoAlliance International, Inc. - a joint venture between Ford and Mazda - the GT ragtop is available in deluxe and premium equipment arrays.

The rear-drive Mustang convertible shares its solid platform with the coupe, and it shows. Power is generated by the 4.6-liter V-8 engine that propels the GT coupe with torque communicated to the road via the standard Tremec 3650 five-speed manual gearbox. For the first time, Ford's close-ratio five-speed automatic transmission is available as a Mustang option.

On the road, the Mustang is strong and solid - from its above-average handling and performance traits to the familiar growling exhaust note. The convertible is fun to drive and attracts plenty of attention from men and women alike. The ragtop is almost as quiet as the hardtop.

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Starting with an ultra rigid chassis structure, the Mustang convertible features a MacPherson front suspension with reverse "L" lower control arms and a stabilizer bar, which delivers both comfort and control. At the rear, the convertible employs a three-link solid axle suspension architecture with outboard mounted shocks, stabilizer bar and a lightweight tubular Panhard rod that provides precise control. This technology stabilizes the rear axle as the wheels move, particularly during hard cornering.

Inside the cabin, drivers will find familiar territory as Ford returns to a modern rendition of classic Mustang instrumentation. The automaker both coddles and spoils occupants with a high degree of standard equipment and amenities. More standard features than ever before include one-touch up/down power windows, power mirrors, remote keyless entry and power door locks, heated rear window and interval wipers.

The convertible ragtop is offered in Black or Parchment and is a three-layer design that consists of an outer waterproof layer, middle sound-deadening layer and an attractive inner layer. When folded down, the top's Z-fold design has a low-profile stance and takes up less space than the previous model. New sealing features reduce wind noise and air leaks when the top is up, and the large rear-window glass features a standard electric defroster.

Lowering the soft-top is an easy task for one person. Open the user-friendly handles at each side of the top at the windshield and hit the power button to lower. Putting up the top is just as easy - the manual handles that secure the top do not require brute force to use.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

Wheelbase: 107.1; overall length: 188; width: 73.9; height: 54.4 - measurements in inches.

Engine: 4.6-liter V-8 - 300 hp at 5,750 rpm and 320 lbs-ft torque at 4,500 rpm.

Transmission: Tremec 3650 five-speed manual, or Ford 5R55S five-speed automatic.

EPA fuel economy: 17 city/25 hwy., (manual); 18 city/23 hwy., (automatic).

Cargo capacity: 9.7 cubic feet.

SAFETY FEATURES

Dual front air bags, four-wheel disc with anti-lock, remote keyless entry, power automatic door locks, side-impact door beams, fog lights and traction control. Optional safety features include active anti-theft system, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and a wheel-locking kit.

WARRANTY

Basic: 3-year/36,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper.

Corrosion: 5-year/unlimited.

Roadside assistance: 3-year/36,000 mile, 24-hour.

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2006 Ford Mustang GT convertible begins at $29,965 for the Deluxe and $31,145 for the Premium models. Destination charges add $720.

As tested:

2006 Ford Mustang GT convertible

Exterior color: Tungsten Grey

Interior color: Dark Charcoal

Tire make/model: Pirelli PZero Nero

Tire size: P235/55ZR17

Base price: $31,145

Destination charges: $720

Five-speed automatic transmission: $995

Active anti-theft system: $295

Interior sport appearance package: $195

Convertible boot cover: $160

17-inch bright machined cast aluminum wheels: $195

Total as tested: $33,705

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