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.
Again, the drivetrain may have been a factor, but the convertible feels more ponderous and harder to hustle along. Steering feel has never been one of the Mustang’s strong points, but the convertible’s front end seems even less reactive and slower to settle than that of the fastback, with a greater tendency to scrub across the asphalt.
Once you get it turned in, you might imagine that the rear would be less lively thanks to a whole lot less torque, but you’d be wrong; it’s still awfully twitchy at the back, even with all the systems turned on.
Like the fastback, the convertible is firm but not uncomfortable, but the secondary ride, particularly on the motorway, is pretty hyperactive. The difference here is that, minus a fixed roof, the dreaded demon of scuttle shake adds an extra shimmy after the bump has been and gone, making the drop-top seem even less refined.
Obviously, there’s more cabin noise to add to that, but in general wind and road noise are still relatively well suppressed for a convertible with the roof up. The only issue with our particular car was noticeable boom and reverberation from around the roof which peaked at around 50mph.
With the roof down, refinement is relatively good; you can sit at 70mph with the windows up and you’ll receive a light buffeting, but you won’t step out at the end of your journey and get mistaken for Milton Jones.