What is it?
If you’re a Ford Mustang fan, no doubt you’ll have consumed our reports on the V8 GT Fastback and discovered that we really rather like it. Yes, there’s a touch of the flawed genius about it, but it’s completely charming and wholly loveable.
A big part of that is because of the whopping great 5.0-litre V8 ‘charm pump’ that warbles away intoxicatingly up front, but here we have the lesser-spotted 2.3 Ecoboost with Ford's optional six-speed automatic gearbox in convertible guise.
We’ve already driven the 2.3 Convertible on the Continent, but this is our first opportunity to sample its delights on home soil. So, despite losing four cylinders and a roof, does it retain enough of the V8 Mustang’s charm to still make you smile?
What's it like?
It’s funny, isn’t it? In principle this should be a great engine, because it’s pretty much the same unit that powers the giant-slaying Focus RS, and we’ve loved every bit of that car’s raspy delights. However, in the Mustang the 2.3 Ecoboost is disappointingly anodyne.
Rev it off the line and it’s smooth, but there’s no character to it, no special noise to make your hairs, or your ears for that matter, stand to attention. If this motor were powering a saloon then it would be perfectly befitting. But it’s not; it’s powering a car that is synonymous with the V8, and its antiseptic whir seems to rip out the very essence of the Mustang’s tanginess, making it sound more like a meowing lion.
And the automatic gearbox doesn’t help matters. The manual version at least felt pokey, but the auto’s lethargy when kicking down and tardiness when you pull gears with the paddles not only rob the Mustang of pace but also subdue a great chunk of the car's sportiness. By way of balance, it pulls uniformly, and judged next to the competition it’s still quick. For example, the Mustang will blitz a BMW 420i Convertible away from the lights, even though it’s by far the cheaper option.
Beyond a simple drag race, it’ll struggle, though, because once the road gets twisty the Mustang Convertible feels a big old brute. The same can be said of the fastback, but the coupé feels more together, despite its size, and has that bit more precision.