The American icon gets another face-lift and a new set of gadgets to keep it going through 2012. Ford seem happy with the mechanics of the current Mustang convertible and have left these unchanged so both the V6 and V8 powered GT options remain.
The biggest change is a revised nose with a more prominent grill and LED driving lights to set it apart from previous cars. The new look is more aggressive, expressing all the power waiting to be unleashed. There are high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps as standard with two LED bars as driving lights.
The rear is also updated with a gloss black panel between the tail-lights. Those taillamps now have smoked lenses while three LED rings mark out the trademark rear lights for a sleeker look.
The Ford Mustang 5 litre V8 GT model now delivers a full 420 horsepower and if the owner specifies an automatic transmission they will now have the option to shift gears thanks to the new SelectShift Automatic gearbox. It isn’t a full-on flappy paddle system but does give the driver the ability to have greater control when they need it while still being able to let the car do the work on a relaxing cruise.
The 2013 Mustang’s dashboard gets a shakeup with a new LCD productivity screen that lets customers access information related to fuel economy and vehicle performance. The screen is navigated through a five-way control button located on the steering wheel and offers Track Apps, which delivers performance metrics for drivers right from the factory. The new app measures g forces, shows acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-60 increments, and displays braking times, complete with automatic and countdown starts.
Until now if you were the kind of brave soul who would prefer to forego the safety net of Lamborghini’s all-wheel-drive system the only answer was the Gallardo LP 550-2 Balboni edition. This lightweight version of the car loosened up the rear end the way the famed Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni obviously preferred. The only trouble was that this was a fixed roof car so even if you had the courage and the driving skills to get challenge Mr Balboni you couldn’t enjoy the open air and engine noise at full volume the way us convertible fans love.
That’s all changed now with the arrival of the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder at the LA Auto Show. The latest droptop Gallardo doesn’t bear the name of the Italian test driver but in every other way it is a match for the coupe. There is the same manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential although Lamborghini’s e-gear robotised sequential transmission is still available as an option. The chassis has also been tuned over the standard Gallardo Spyder along with some minor aerodynamic change. Even the engine has been adjusted to suit the new set-up with the 550 bhp output taking it from 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds and then on to 198 mph where space and laws allow.
Purists will love this new convertible in the Lamborghini range and while the Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder may not suit those who want manageable high performance it returns the brand to the more traditional experience of harnessing the raging bull.
The latest Porsche 911 Cabriolet which goes on sale in March of 2012 has a new ‘intelligent’ lightweight folding soft-top roof. Porsche’s convertible fabric roof uses magnesium in its frame design to significantly reduce weight thus improving performance, fuel consumption and lowering the centre of gravity. Porsche die-hards will be pleased to find however that the skinny roof hasn’t effected the classic roofline.
In other respects the new Porsche 911 Cabriolet will replicate much of the specifications of the 2013 Coupé. This means a choice of either 350 hp 3.4-litre and 400 hp 3.8-litre rear mounted flat-six engines. The lines may look very much like every other 911 in history but there is a longer wheelbase and wider track than the outgoing car. The overhangs have then been reduced to keep the dimensions as compact as ever. A new electro-mechanical power steering system is added which Porsche claim provides greater driving precision and agility.
The 911 Carrera Cabriolet and 911 Carrera S Cabriolet both come with a manual gearbox as standard while the super-quick 7 speed PDK double-clutch transmission comes as an option that delivers lower fuel consumption and shorter acceleration times. Both of the open topped 911s options return 28 mpg over the combined cycle.
The 911 Carrera Cabriolet models go on sale in the UK on March 3rd 2012. The 911 Carrera Cabriolet is priced from £79,947 and the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet from £89,740.
The Twin Air engine developed by Fiat is undoubtedly an impressive achievement. It is small, efficient and gives surprising levels of performance from its 2 cylinders. Combined with the little Fiat 500 Convertible it makes a delightfully characterful car with a distinctive sound and eager acceleration. One thing we did find however is that the claimed fuel consumption figures were a bit optimistic. We haven’t gone as far as running tests but 68 miles per gallon of combined driving sounds a bit too good to be true. It may be achievable under laboratory conditions but with the way the 500C begs you to put your foot down we can’t imagine anyone getting anyway near this figure.
The environmentalists and motoring writers of the Green Apple Awards committee apparently think otherwise however as they have handed the Fiat 500C TwinAir the Green Apple Gold Award for Green Vehicles, Coupes and Cabriolets at their 2011 event. The trophy was presented to Fiat by TV Dragon’s Den winner Chris Hopkins, and Ian Donaldson, chairman of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers, which judged and selected the winners. They liked the way the car was both green in the real world too, and are also fun to drive. We won’t argue with the latter and judging by the 95g/km CO2 figure the emissions levels are class leading too.
TVR the eccentric British sports car brand is back in business after a 4 year gap when the Blackpool factory was shut down due to poor sales and high overheads. The company is now based out of Vienna, Austria however it is unclear of whether the cars will be built in Austria or at TVR Power in Coventry who are listed as the contact for car maintenance, service and upgrades.
A retro logo is displayed on the new TVR website which reports that the company will either overhaul and upgrade an older car or build a new one to order. With lessons learnt from the past the company is now using reliable engines from a major manufacturer rather than attempting to produce innovative powerplants of their own. General Motors’ 6.2-litre LS3 V8 will be used throughout the range with a 5 speed manual gearbox and this engine can be fitted as an upgrade to a range of older cars from the Griffith to the Sagaris.
The models currently being built are currently only previous designs however new models may well be in the pipeline. The Russian owned business will have to work hard to win back TVR’s mostly British fans now the company has left the country so their product quality will have to be exceptional to guarantee success. No prices are listed at present but the company is apparently taking orders for built to order cars.
Jaguar has confirmed that the rumoured Jaguar XKR-S Convertible will be first unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 16th 2011.
As you would expect the new Jaguar convertible will be mechanically identical to the XKR-S coupe launched earlier in the year save for small adjustments to the suspension. This means a loud 542 bhp supercharged V8, a firm ride and a more purposeful interior. That’s not to say it is a stripped down racer; the Jag is still very much a big GT but with considerably more agility and performance than the standard car. The 6 speed automatic transmission with paddleshift will remain which is fine by us as it does a great job – fast, smooth and precise.
The Jaguar XK Convertible is a handsome tourer with great handling, smooth power delivery with a great sound. In comparison the XKR-S looses its upmarket composure for a new raw edge. It will be the fastest Jaguar convertible ever built and with that comes the usual scoops and spoilers. It may seem out of character but the Jaguar XKR-S Convertible is likely to be more of a range topping showcase than a big selling car.