Justin Fivella
November 7, 2011

The stable at Ford Motor Company is packed with a compelling line-up of Mustangs.

There are exciting Ponies in a variety of price points and performance levels. Whether you desire the sporty V-6 with 305 hp that can knock down 31 mpg, or the brute force of the 550hp Shelby GT500, there is a Stang to fill your craving.

We've sampled the powerhouse '12 GT500 and the amazing Boss 302, and now we are excited to feel the wind behind the wheel of the '12 5.0L GT convertible. During a recent trip to the Sunshine State, we slipped into this fully optioned ragtop that was loaded with navigation ($2,340), power everything, Security Package ($695), Comfort package ($595), and featuring Ford's new Lava Red Metallic paint.

The modern 412hp 5.0L engine has ample torque, high-rpm power, and it sounds fantastic. Equipped with a six-speed manual, our tester had plenty of giddyup, and it hauled us nicely to speed with an amazing amount of style and grace. It was at home on the highway, in traffic, or when pushed through some exciting mountain roads.

New for '12 are a handful of options, including three modes of adjustment in the EPAS (Comfort, Normal, and Sport), illuminated vanity mirrors, a universal garage-door opener, and multi-purpose sun visor, along with the optional Reverse Sensing System, Security Package, and HID headlamps.

Having a convertible in SoCal, I naturally popped open the easy-to-use release latches for the top and powered the roof to the stowed position. Installing the boot cover was simple and gave the GT a clean, finished look. I was impressed with the ride quality of this open-air machine, as cowl shake and overall NVH was kept to a minimum. Ford states a 12-percent improvement in lateral stiffness over the '10 model.

The improvements in chassis, suspension, and technology also include new SYNC applications for Traffic, Directions, Information, and 911 Assist. We were also impressed by the standard AdvanceTrac electronic stability control. According to Ford: "It complements the all-speed traction control and standard ABS." And that can be rather useful during spirited drives.

Additional standard equipment on the '12 Mustang includes the Personal Safety System, which features dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and beltminder.

We're always thrilled to see new colors, and as you can see, Lava Red Metallic is unique and classy. Its hue is a purple/brownish that is reminiscent of the Mystic color found on the '96 SVT Cobra. The color is dark--in fact, under shade, Lava Red appears to be black, but with a deep metal flake. The special color will be available in limited quantities; selecting it also gets you color-coded seat and door panel inserts.

One option we've come to love is the $1,695 optional Brembo brake package. The upgraded binders provide great feel, improved braking, and aesthetic appeal. Included are the sportier 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in P255/40/19-inch Pirelli tires. Base sticker price for the '12 Mustang GT convertible is $38,145; our loaded tester came in with a total MSRP of $44,845.

We enjoyed the ragtop GT, as it provided a fun experience for us, especially when we tossed it around the autocross course during the NMRA/NMCA West Coast Shootout. It was surprisingly neutral and well balanced. Understeer was much reduced and the steering set to Sport mode, we recognized a wonderful level of feedback.

Once again Ford has built a Mustang that gets the job done, both on track and on the highway. And with the Lava Red, it's perhaps more subdued than flashier ponycars on the road.

It's a horse that can carry you and your passengers with style, comfort, and all the performance that you'd expect from a fully optioned Mustang GT.

Once again Ford has built a Mustang that gets the job done, both on track and on the highway.

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