Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible: Driven

Thank goodness the manual has remained. With an automatic gearbox this Mustang 'vert would have a perfect score on the anti-PH spec bingo - four cylinders, no roof and very reserved Magnetic Grey paint. What's a muscle car without a lairy colour?

Anyway, with both the four-cylinder and convertible models expected to make up a significant portion of sales in the UK, it only seemed right to test that as well. Can the endearing Mustang charm of the V8 fastback transfer to a four-cylinder drop-top?

In a word, no. Unequivocally not. Perhaps that view is tainted somewhat by having driven the V8 first but it's hard to come away from the Ecoboost and not feel significantly disappointed.

And this is not some power-crazed PH perspective where anything under 350hp is too feeble for our powerfully-built frames. It's simply not that exciting, which is odd given a related engine feels a perfect fit for the Focus ST. The numbers are there, and some impromptu tests with a V8 reveal it's not that far behind on the road, but it's simply not a pleasant engine to use. The sound is diesel-esque and plain, but so is the power delivery - torque is plentiful but it noticeably tightens further up the rev range, to the point where you short shift and rely on the turbo's urge to push the Mustang along at a reasonable pace. At least the gearbox itself is pleasant, short and precise like the V8's with less of the brawn. But where that car will have entertained by the second gearchange there's no such enjoyment from the four-cylinder. It was inevitable to a degree, but certainly not expected by this margin.

Wobble board
Unfortunately the bad news continues for this particular Mustang because it certainly doesn't set a new benchmark for convertible dynamics. Even on smooth German roads the structural rigidity can often be found wanting, the car shimmying and wobbling over imperfections at normal speeds. If the coupe is anything to go by then this car is surely a massive improvement on previous Mustangs, but it's some way off the best at the moment.

There's more, too. Sorry. The appeal of the V8 fastback is clear as it's the Mustang the purists want, the true muscle car and, encouragingly enough, the most popular in the UK pre-order lists. Over here, without many boulevards to cruise or Sweet 16 birthday presents to buy, where does that leave the Ecoboost convertible? Those with a 4 Series or A5 cabriolet at the moment probably won't be considering the Mustang as a replacement, and it's patently not sporty enough to rival a TT.

Hopefully the Ecoboost engine finds a more natural home in the fastback Mustang. Let's also pray for some improvement before a version of that engine makes it to the Focus RS as well. For now the Ecoboost cabriolet feels the most American of the new Mustangs and that isn't intended as a compliment. It certainly looks good but beyond that it's rather left wanting.

2,300cc 4cy turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential 
Power (hp):316@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 317@3,000rpm
0-62mph:6.0 seconds
Top speed: 145mph (limited)
MPG:34.4 (NEDC combined)
Price: £33,000 

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (52) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Otispunkmeyer 17 May 2015

    Standard 4 cylinder turbo then. Sounds like a threshing machine and busts its lungs at anything over 5k rpm.

    It such a shame 4 cylinders are the most prolific engines. They are universally bad in the aural department (with very few exceptions). None of them sound anything but flatulent. Firmly of the opinion that these engines, like little boys, should be seen but not heard.

  • unsprung 17 May 2015

    Good review. Wisely, it acknowledges the distinct "jobs" for which buyers in different countries will, or won't, "hire" this car.

    Behind closed doors, few at Ford are likely to disagree.

    They'd simply remind us of the variety that Mustang offers: engines, transmissions, body style, etc. Satisfy a diversity of buyers: keep sales volume up and unit cost down.

    And they'd surely remind us of the low sales volumes anticipated in individual countries outside the US. Business case and all that.

    Motoring in the UK is not a low-cost endeavour. Consequently, if you are adamant that precious little will stand in the way of your passion for performance, you are certain to be a fastidious shopper of cars.

    Some people talk about handling in terms of road holding; Britons talk about handling in terms of what happens when there is insufficient road to hold. The expectations, and the level of fluency if you will, are higher.

    Large swathes of the world are not there, yet. Or they simply have other priorities. A cashed-up young executive in China -- where tax on engine displacement is akin to a felony punishment -- is going to look at the four-cylinder convertible Mustang a bit differently than here.

    For me, the thing that is potentially most exciting is that the Mustang narrative will now have more voices. And some from very different cultures (Iran anyone?). This might lead to all sorts of fun stuff.

  • redroadster 17 May 2015

    Ok it's not as good as v8 however it will appeal to high mileage drivers and woman drivers who are not interested in going fast....

  • GFraser 17 May 2015

    Yikes, as the article mentions that's a bit of a worry for the Focus RS. Planning on my first new car next year and the RS is top of my list!

  • lord trumpton 17 May 2015

    GFraser said:
    Yikes, as the article mentions that's a bit of a worry for the Focus RS. Planning on my first new car next year and the RS is top of my list!
    I don't think RS devision will sit back and not make the engine centre stage.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment