When Ford originally introduced its Mustang convertible - back in 1964 - it was powered by a 260 cubic inch (4.3 litre) cast-iron V8 engine that developed just over 160 horsepower. At the time, this powerplant was considered to be a bit of a mechanical marvel, thanks to its relatively small size, healthy power output, and adaptability to high performance upgrades. It was later bumped up to 289 cubic inches and more, and Ford went on to sell over a million of the first generation Mustang in its first year of production.
Forty-six years later, the Mustang convert’s base engine was an all-aluminum V6 engine that had smaller displacement, yet developed almost twice as much power as the original V8. It joined a 5.0 litre V8 and a high-performance Shelby edition. Transmissions were a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
For what it’s worth, the V6 / manual gearbox combination took the ‘11 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, say, something from Honda or Nissan; this iteration of the Mustang was - and is - still a big, rear-drive American pony car, with a comparatively heavy and stiff shift mechanism.
Elsewhere, the convertible featured a lined top with a heated glass rear window, and it deployed in about 15 seconds. A pair of levers must be manually unlocked and disengaged on the windscreen header, and the power button is located overhead.
Once the top is down, you understand why some folks wouldn’t be without a convertible. As well as improving all-round visibility, it gave this pony car a whole new dimension in driveability. Not to mention making parallel parking a whole lot easier compared to the coupe model. That said, rearward visibility is extremely poor when the top is up.
Equipment level was comparatively 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 US National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. The latter organization, however, has 22 technical service bulletins out there, including problems with uncooperative 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 currently being investigated by NHTSA.
To this we can add 187 complaints filed against the 2011 Mustang…..though not all of these pertain to the convertible. A sampling: “hard to shift until the trans warms up”, “the clutch stays engaged and you can not shift in to any gear while the car is running. Ford has refused to warranty the repairs. Mileage at the time 27,000”, and “the car began sputtering and then the engine died after pulling off of the interstate. The wrench light flashed and then the check engine light came on and stayed on”. These last two problem areas – the fuel injection system and transmission - seem to be the most common complaint registered with 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. tells us that expected reliability of this car when new, is a paltry two per cent above average. Some comments from owners: “top is easy to operate and double insulated”, “if you have to own one be sure and get an extended warranty”, “back-up camera is a ‘must have’ and works extremely well”, and “no problems in one and a half years”.
Marketing researcher, J.D. Power, gives this one an “about average” grade for overall quality, but below average marks for powertrain quality. What owners say: “no telescoping steering wheel – annoying!”, “rough shifting, hesitation in transmission”, and “does not handle well in ice and snow”.
From a base price of $32,000 in 2011, the Mustang Convert has dropped by some $10,000 - $15,000, depending upon the model and equipment level. The V8 versions are running about $5000 more than the V6, and the Shelby GT500 is another $15,000 on top of that.
2011 Mustang Convertible
Original Base Price: $31,399; Black Book: $21,675 - $26,250 - $ 44,100; Red Book: $15,900 - $27,100 - $41,450
Engine: 4.7 litre V6; 5.0 litre V8; 5.4 litre V8
Horsepower/Torque: 305 hp / 280 ft. lb; 412 hp / 390 ft. lb; 550 hp / 510 ft. lb
Transmission: Six-speed manual / six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.1 city/6.9 hwy (V6 w. manual trans.). Regular / Premium gas
Alternatives: Volkswagen Eos, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, BMW 135i Cabrio, Chrysler Sebring Convertible.