Car reviews - Ford - Mustang - EcoBoost Convertible
Throwback cabin, superb bi-modal exhaust system, relatively fuel efficient, sharp turn-in and steering feedback
Room for improvement
Weak bass response from sound system, 10-speed automatic transmission shifts too frequently, feels heavy to drive
Minor changes make major difference for updated Mustang drop-top
5 Apr 2019
YOU cannot deny the success of the Ford Mustang in Australia after the factory right-hand-drive sportscar launched in sixth-generation guise back in January 2016.
They sold their socks off right from the get-go, with Ford’s local wing scurrying to secure a larger allocation to meet the overwhelming demand, and despite what some sceptics said, the four-cylinder EcoBoost proved to be a big success.
The new-gen Pony represented a significant improvement over previous iterations, and so it’s no surprise it was met with such enthusiasm.
When Ford facelifted the car last year, it didn’t need to change much to stay up-to-date, but a handful of purposeful changes keep the iconic sportscar as exciting as ever.
Price and equipment
Entry to the nameplate starts with the turbocharged four-cylinder Mustang EcoBoost Fastback, which is priced at $49,990 plus on-road costs, with the drop-top version commanding a $9500 premium, at $59,490.
The EcoBoost Convertible in Royal Crimson – as tested – is only available with an automatic transmission and is equipped with features including LED headlights and tail-lights, a new lower bonnet, a refreshed grille and bonnet air intakes.
Removing the roof takes some manual input to disconnect the frame from the A-pillar, however, it retracts quickly via the touch of a button.
The interior of the Mustang is a nice throwback to Pony cars of the late 1960s, with a tall symmetrical dashboard with black leather touches.
It doesn’t feel overly premium inside but is well put-together and equipped with a respectable number of entertainment and comfort features.
With last year’s facelift came a customisable 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster, new soft-touch materials on the centre console and door trims, and a redesigned leather steering wheel.
Infotainment is displayed on an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Ford’s Sync3 software that features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, satellite navigation and emergency assistance.
The speaker system proved loud enough to blast tunes over the roar of the engine and wind noise with the roof retracted, but it had noticeably weak bass response.
Engine and transmission
Powering the Pony is a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine, which received a new tune last year, stripping 9kW of power, to 224kW, but adding 9Nm of torque, for 441Nm.
Without driving the old and new models back to back, we were unable to tell the difference.
While a manual gearbox is available for the coupe, drop-top buyers are restricted to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, replacing the six-speed unit.
Yes, you heard us right, 10 gears.
Ford uses 10-speed units in a number of its vehicles, including the Ranger ute and Everest large SUV, and while it delivers power to the ground smoothly, it can be frustrating in white-knuckle goings.
With shifts so frequent, it’s easy to get lost, forcing you to put more trust in the car’s traction control system than we’d like.
When driving the V8 Mustang, the automatic transmission makes a bit more sense as power can be found from very low in the rev range, however, the turbocharged engine demands to be kept in the revs, which can be difficult to manage with so many gears.
We’ll say it: We want the six-speeder back.
Either way, the four-pot engine sounds superb, particularly with the roof down.
Noise comes from a bimodal exhaust, which can be adjusted with four settings – Quiet, Normal, Sport and Track, as well as a Good Neighbour setting which allows drivers to set what time of day the exhaust opens up.
Though it may not be a concern for would-be Mustang buyers, the EcoBoost is significantly more efficient than its big-displacement sibling, sipping around 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres, compared to the V8’s 12.7L/100km figure.
Ride and handling
The Mustang has revised suspension with new shock absorbers to improve handling.
While a featherweight compared to its bent-eight sibling, the EcoBoost feels heavy on the road, and so it pays to keep your wits about you in fast goings.
Turn-in is sharp and feedback is strong, but the car is more than happy to oversteer, particularly in lift-off.
It’s easy to see how so many Mustang owners have found themselves in the scenery as part of an internet montage video. In short: Don’t be a hero.
Safety and servicing
For increased safety, the Ford Mustang is now equipped with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and high-beam assist, as well as a carryover reversing camera.
Thanks to this, in part, ANCAP increased the Mustang’s safety rating from two to three stars.
Having been so successful since its introduction to Australia, the Ford Mustang didn’t need much to stay relevant, but Ford did well to meet buyer demands with some purposeful updates.
It would be a mistake to compare it to the V8, it’s simply not the same thing. However, it is a very enjoyable, well-built and competent sportscar alternative.
You still get the badge!
Mercedes-Benz SLC300 (from $100,900 before on-road costs)
Without a direct competitor at its price point, the 370Z Roadster faces challenges from the segment above. The SLC300 is competent and comfortable but a little unexciting when behind the wheel.
Audi TT S Roadster (from $105,661 before on-road costs)
More mature than before, the TT S Roadster exquisitely balances performance and comfort. A style icon in its own right, this Audi seals the deal with its confidence-inspiring all-wheel-drive grip.
Porsche 718 Boxster (from $119,960 before on-road costs)
Long considered the king of the drop-top two-seat sportscars, the 718 Boxster is a dependable winner, offering monumental grip, unrivalled build quality and strong engine performance.
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