Ford's muscle car can also be had with a convertible roof and a 2.3-litre turbocharged engine rather than the big V8

What is it?

It’s a Ford Mustang convertible. The last drop-top Mustang I tried was a V6-powered hire car more than a decade ago. It was terrible. 

There’s something about an underpowered, overly flexible version of what in other forms is a decent coupé that makes them even more disappointing than if they were a stand-alone model. You’re aware of what it isn’t, and what it could be, not just what it is.

This new one can be had with either a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine or a 5.0-litre V8. Our test car is the former. 

What's it like?

The 312bhp 2.3-litre Ecoboost turbo is a decent engine, but it isn’t a V8. Ford is aware of that, so it augments the car’s sound through the audio speakers; noise cancelling takes out some real sounds, software adds some others. 

It sounds okay, but engine rather than PlayStation enthusiasts will detect the artificiality. Still, it’s responsive, provides respectable performance and drives through the same slick six-speed manual gearbox as the V8. We haven’t tried an auto yet.

But a lot of roof has gone missing here. The Mustang is a long car, at 4.7 metres, and lopping off the section that covers the whole passenger compartment leaves a gaping hole that’s adequately covered by a fabric roof. Twist a handle to unlatch it and then it draws back electrically, provided you’re at a standstill. 

There’s no option of a wind deflector, but windows up, at sensible speeds, and it’s relatively free of buffeting. Your locks will be gently tousled by the passing breeze, while you wonder why the image in the interior mirror is wobbling as you pass over bumps in the road.

The inevitable answer is that, along with the metalwork, so too has disappeared a large portion of the body’s torsional rigidity. The low-speed ride, mind you, is acceptable - at least as good as in the hard-top. Perhaps the flex in the chassis allows a little more compliance than the coupé. 

Should I buy one?

The compromises with the roof and engine leave the Mustang convertible in a slightly odd place - at least with this engine. It’s no better to drive than plenty of other convertibles at its £33,000, arguably no better looking, quite large on the outside compared to its size on the inside, and is a wide car to thread around.

You’d have to really, really want your four-cylinder convertible to be a Mustang to choose one. But it can also be had with the V8 (£37,005), which I suspect would pitch some of that allure back into it. There’s something to be said for some open-top V8 woofle. Certainly, what comes through the speakers can’t match it.

Ford Mustang Convertible 2.3 Ecoboost 

Location Germany; On sale October; Price £33,000; Engine 4 cyls in line, 2300cc, turbo, petrol; Power 312bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 317lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1715kg; Top speed 145mph; 0-62mph 6.0sec (est); Economy 34.4mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 184g/km, 29%

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Citytiger 1 January 2016

Silly question

but exactly how many convertibles with a German badge on are running around with a diesel engine in these days, the answer, a huge amount, even "sports cars" like the TT and the SLK are available with 4 pot diesels, and the most popular A5 cabriolet is the 2.0 TDI.
david RS 11 May 2015

-1 for the L4...

-1 for the L4...
A34 10 May 2015

Poor Ford

... have only a V8 for the richer petrolheads, and a 4cyl Ecoboost aka Turbo for the rest. The piping of sound effects through speakers is just "sad". As is the inability of Ford to get more than 20mpg from a V8 (4l with on-demand cylinders like the VW 1.4?). Why not a small capacity v8, or a 6 in line, with turbo assistance? Heck, a 3l V12 would be more fun here!

So the 2.3 is probably the sensible choice unless you are looking for a soundtrack rather than a car. Nice alternative to a TT!