It’s July. It’s sunny. Okay, it’s actually foggy, but that’ll burn off my noontime.
Let’s put the top down.
Ford released their sixth version of the Mustang, one of the planet’s most widely known cars, for the 2015 model year. As the car market shrinks and as buyers turn from sedans to crossovers, there’s clearly plenty of room in the industry for a pony car from Ford.
THE GOOD • Terrific design • Sufficient power • Surprising agility • Cooled seats • Fast top operation
• Sounds like an electric lawnmower
• Automatic isn’t sports-minded • EcoBoost is no leap from V6 • MyFordTouch: easy but slow • Over the top spec
50 years after launching the first Mustang to instantaneous success, Ford drastically improved the Mustang for 2015. Though not to the extent that Ford’s first Mustang was, the new car is a hit. Part of the explanation for the success attained by this new model lies under the hood of the test car loaned to us for a week by Ford Canada.
Yet it’s that very engine that lies at the centre of our criticism.
Not that there’s much else to complain about.
WHAT IS IT?
There’ll be faster sixth-generation Mustangs in the near future, but for the 2015 model year, the 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood of this car makes the Mustang EcoBoost the middle child in Ford’s pony car lineup. In the hardtop section of the Mustang family, the EcoBoost adds $3000 to the price of the V6 car but provides a $9000 savings in comparison with the 5.0L V8 GT. (There are other equipment differences besides the powerplant.)
2015 FORD MUSTANG CONVERTIBLE ECOBOOST 50th ANNIVERSARY Base Price: $41,149 * As-Tested Price: $52,649 * Drive Type: rear-wheel-drive
NRCAN OEE City: 11.6 L/100km NRCAN OEE Hwy: 7.9 L/100km Observed: 22.2 mpg Observed: 10.6 L/100km
* Canadian dollars, includes $1750 in fees.
In the convertible realm, the jump from V6 to EcoBoost requires a $9050 leap because the EcoBoost comes only in “premium” trim. (The GT is still $9000 more than the EcoBoost.)
Like for like, the EcoBoost Convertible costs $5550 more than the EcoBoost Coupe. Keep in mind, however, that current discounts drop the EcoBoost coupe’s price by $2723. The EcoBoost convertible’s price is now $3334 lower than MSRP.
To the $41,149 base price of this EcoBoost Convertible, Ford Canada’s press office added $550 yellow paint and a $2000 201A package which includes the impressive 12-speaker Shaker audio system, memory functions for the driver’s power seat and mirrors, and blind spot monitoring. Adaptive cruise control added $1600. Reverse park assist is $350. Navigation costs $800. The 50th Anniversary package adds $1700 but makes for a prettier car because of the delted rear spoiler. The 6-speed automatic is a $1500 option. The Performance Package lops on another $3000.
HOW BIG IS IT?
Almost too big, but not quite.
This was made more obvious when the very roomy Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon replaced the Mustang in our driveway and fit so much better. The VW is 8.7 inches shorter from bumper to bumper, 4.6 inches narrower, and 352 pounds lighter.
The Mustang is ever so slightly less vast than it used to be, at least in one dimension. From stem to stern, the 2015 Mustang convertible is 0.2 inches shorter than the 2014 model. And while overall passenger volume dropped off slightly – it’s really hard getting into the back with the roof up, but there’s room for toes under the seat once you’re in place – cargo volume is up by 51 litres. Yeehaw.
Compared with other popular convertibles, the Mustang is 2.3 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Camaro, similarly broad, and 0.2 inches taller at the roof. Mazda’s upcoming fourth-gen MX-5 Miata is nearly three feet shorter from bumper to bumper, seven inches slimmer, and half-a-foot more vertically challenged.
DOES IT WORK?
Members of the audience who took the time to read our winter review of the 2015 Mustang V6 Coupe will be well aware of GCBC’s general opinion of the sixth version of Ford’s iconic rear-wheel-drive two-door.
In most objective terms, this far more costly convertible is the superior of the two Mustangs we’ve reviewed. Droptop functionality adds fun and scarcely makes a dint when it comes to structural rigidity. (Only when the roof is up is there any squawking or squeaking, right above the passenger’s head at the windshield header.) The performance pack buttons the chassis down. Brake feel and performance is tremendous. Selectable drive modes and the V6’s optional steering modes allow the driver to find the right Mustang for the moment without changing Mustangs. Not surprisingly, toggling both to normal is best for normal situations. Twisty roads allow both sport modes to shine, but the automatic transmission tends to confuse itself when tasked with calling up greater performance intent in the sport and track modes.
Most impressive is Ford’s ability to marry the Mustang Convertible’s increased athleticism to improved ride quality. Oh, it’s firm, but it’s sufficiently compliant, and there’s next to no shuddering on the roughest pavement, all of which is located in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Least impressive is the 310-horsepower 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder. Scratch that. The least impressive aspect of the 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost is the sound made by the 310-horsepower, 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder. If electric lawnmowers rev up your muscle car-loving heart, then you’ll love this noise. Otherwise, prepare to be hugely disappointed.
I’ve got nothing against four-cylinder engines or the noises they make. Plenty of them, from the burbly Subaru WRX STI’s boxer-four to the rambunctious 2.0L turbo in the Audi S3 to the wailing Honda S2000’s 2.0L, sound terrific. And just because the EcoBoost is a Mustang doesn’t mean it has to sound like a V8. But it can’t sound like this. It’s embarrassing.
It’s made worse by the fact that, though certainly quick, the Mustang EcoBoost isn’t that quick. In fact, extensive Car & Driver testing of multiple Mustangs reveals that this car is the slowest of all new Mustangs. True, part of what Mustang EcoBoost buyers are paying for is the Eco, but you’re not getting a whole lot of extra Eco in comparison with the naturally-aspirated V6 (which does a fair vocal imitation of a V8, it must be said).
Meanwhile, the aspect of the equation which supposedly provides extra Boost appears to have gone AWOL.
With better engines available for more and for less money, the disappointment of the EcoBoost 2.3 should not be viewed as a poor reflection on the 2015 Mustang, but rather a reflection on this particular powerplant. The interior is impressive, SYNC/MyFordTouch remains slow but is mostly intuitive, the car handles like it was set up by highly-trained Germans, it steers with precision and feedback, and every drive is marked by a communicative experience.
And if the EcoBoost makes it feel only as swift as a modern hi-po hot hatch, take note: the top action is very quick, indeed.
IS ANYONE BUYING IT?
E’erbody’s buying it, and so they should be.
Ford doesn’t provide a sales breakdown of Mustang bodystyles or powertrains, but Mustang sales in 2015 are up 54% in the United States to 68,290 copies, making it America’s 16th-best-selling car, ahead of the Kia Soul, Volkswagen Jetta, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Prius, and Mazda 3, among many others.
The Mustang is Canada’s 27th-best-selling car thanks to a 37% year-over-year sales improvement. The 4266-unit Canadian sales tally is greater than the combined sales figures of the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger combined.
SHOULD I BUY SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD?
In this price bracket, the list of tempting alternatives includes some heady possibilities: Audi TT Roadster, Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, Nissan 370Z Roadster.
But there’s really only one other similarly priced product that fulfills the daily-driver, four-seater, performance-oriented mission of this Mustang. BMW’s M235i Cabriolet is likely not on the traditional Mustang buyer’s shopping list. But the fact that the Ford Mustang Convertible should be on the traditional M235i Cabriolet’s shopping list says a whole lot about the 2015 Mustang.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY?
Less than $53,000.
But that’s easier said than done. Ford has decided that the Mustang V6 will be little more than their value leader, meaning it can’t be equipped with some of the key options available on this EcoBoost. Most importantly, that means the $3000 Performance Package (big, sticky tires; limited slip axle, bigger brakes, sportier suspension) is a no-go on the more affordable V6.
Thus, if you want a truly performance-oriented Mustang convertible, the least costly will be the $44,149 EcoBoost with the aforementioned Performance Package. V6 droptops start at $32,099, however, and offer what you’ll likely consider to be a superior powerplant. That leaves thousands of dollars leftover for options and modifications and fuel. Best of all, an un-optioned Mustang GT convertible, at $50,149, costs $2500 less than this heavily-optioned Mustang EcoBoost convertible.
Regardless of which topless 2015 Mustang you choose – and we know you’re dreaming of choosing one Mustang or another – you’re selecting a car that’s wildly more modern than the departed fifth-generation 2014 model. It’s a veritable sports car in a pony car body. Pay no mind to the specific ills of this particular car. They can quickly be cured simply by ticking, or unticking, certain boxes on the options sheet.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook. The Mustang was supplied by Ford Canada’s press office.