In-depth reviews

Ford Mustang convertible review

"The Ford Mustang Convertible has lots of character, but its handling and interior are weak points"

Carbuyer Rating

3.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Cheaper than European rivals
  • Unmatchable heritage
  • Loads of character

Cons

  • V8 is costly to run
  • Cheap interior feel
  • Not as sharp to drive as coupe

For the first time ever, the Ford Mustang Convertible became available to buy officially in the UK when it launched here in 2015 . Previous models stayed in the US and were imported to Britain privately in small numbers by avid Mustang fans, but the latest version represents the first time that Brits can buy a right-hand-drive model with all the support of their local Ford dealer.

Mustang buyers originally had the choice between a 286bhp 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and a more traditional 5.0-litre V8 – with 410bhp to call upon, this is exactly the kind of engine you’d expect to find under the bonnet of what is an iconic American muscle car. Perhaps that’s the reason why the four-cylinder was phased out, in the UK at least, and the V8 has since been upgraded to make an even more convincing 444bhp.

Despite the plentiful power on offer, one of the Mustang’s strongest selling points is its price. While the convertible is a similar size to the Audi A5 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet, it actually costs the same as cars from the class below such as the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet.

The Mustang Convertible is fast in a straight line but not so quick in corners, where its relatively soft suspension and lack of structural stiffness affect its performance. This can be partially offset by a remarkably effective optional Magneride adaptive damping system, which introduces a far more poised feel when cornering quickly, but it's still best to think of the Mustang as a relaxed cruiser, rather than a razor-sharp sports car. It feels at home on the wide open roads that characterise its homeland – Britain's narrow, twisty country lanes serve to emphasise just how big the Mustang is.

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The interior is full of retro touches and classic Mustang styling, which Ford will be hoping helps you to look past some of the cheaper materials and switchgear, as well as the exposed mechanism for the roof. Introduced in 2022, the Mustang California Special feels a tad more upmarket, thanks to grey suede touches and aluminium trim, along with unique GT/CS logos.

With a car as iconic as the Mustang, it’s not hard to see why the smaller engine was deleted from the range. The bigger engine really suits the car’s character and the classic V8 burble is even more enjoyable in the convertible model. The EcoBoost engine may have cost a bit less to buy and run, but the V8 feels like an intrinsic part of the Mustang Convertible's character. Without it, you might as well buy a different model.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Sports cars like the Ford Mustang Convertible are never cheap to run – and that’s especially true of the V8 model

There were previously two engines in the Ford Mustang Convertible line-up. For the traditionalists, there’s the 5.0-litre petrol V8 that manages 24.6mpg economy and emits a whopping 263g/km of CO2. Buyers should remember that V8 engines are never cheap to run, and while Mustangs only cost the standard rate each year to tax, every version costs over the £40,000 mark, so there’s a hefty surcharge from years two to six, increasing tax during this period.

For those who want more manageable bills, the similarly sized BMW 4 Series Cabriolet is capable of over 30mpg with a 368bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine, and is similarly rapid thanks to standard four-wheel drive. 

Servicing will be pricey, but you can extend the standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty for added peace of mind.

Engines, drive & performance

A burbling V8 engine means the Ford Mustang Convertible has plenty of character

The Mustang Convertible has previously been offered with two engine options, and both have loads of character to go with the car’s iconic styling and miles of headroom. Mustang purists have shunned the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in America, but the smaller option made a lot of sense on this side of the pond.

A 2018 update actually decreased the EcoBoost's power from 313 to 286bhp, in pursuit of greater fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions. Despite that, this version of the 2.3-litre engine can still blast the Mustang from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds. A top speed of 145mph is possible if you go somewhere safe and legal to reach it.

The sound of the EcoBoost engine is much less evocative next to the V8; it’s more of a characterful rasp than the 5.0-litre car's full-blooded roar. The soundtrack doesn’t get much more arresting when you play with the car's driving modes either, with none of the Normal, Sport, Track, Snow/Wet, Drag and driver-configurable My Mode settings doing much to improve the character or volume of the exhaust note.

My Mode also offers control of the optional adaptive dampers, and those really do make a difference. Named Magneride, the system brings big improvements in body control and all but eliminates the convertible's tendency to lean in corners. While it can't totally disguise the convertible's lack of structural rigidity, Magnaride certainly brings it closer to the Coupe in terms of cornering agility – and it does so without affecting the Mustang's comfortable ride quality. For an extra £1,600, it's worth every penny.

Updated models also benefit from a 10-speed automatic in place of the original six-speed gearbox. Whether you choose the V8 or the four-cylinder (both use the same gearbox with the same 10 ratios), it's a marked improvement and offers fast, smooth upshifts, and allows you to make seamless manual gear changes using the steering wheel-mounted paddles. It's a shame manual downshifts are a little lag-prone – there's a brief delay between shifting into a lower gear and it engaging. The dual-clutch automatic 'boxes from Porsche and BMW are better in this regard.

The V8 produces a lot more power and has that classic American muscle-car soundtrack, which suits both the Mustang name and the character of the latest model. If its 444bhp isn't enough, Mustang owners can also order go-faster parts from Ford Performance to make their drop-top Mustang even more hair-raising. Most exciting of all is a Roush supercharger that increases power of the V8 to around 600bhp.

Interior & comfort

The Ford Mustang Convertible has a suitably retro dashboard, but feels quite wide on UK roads

The Mustang Convertible’s interior is suitably retro. That’s not to say it’s old-fashioned or full of gimmicks, but it retains many design elements from previous Mustangs while incorporating 21st-century technology, too, This includes a 12-inch TFT screen in place of conventional instruments. It's easy to read, and packed with information.

Stylish touches include a hefty slab of aluminium that covers the dashboard and metal toggle switches to control the air-conditioning. Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment dominates the centre of the dashboard and is controlled by the large touchscreen. It's easy to use, since it's already found in the Ford Focus and Mondeo.

Fit and finish isn’t up to scratch with rivals from European brands. For example, the plastics and other materials used don’t feel quite as robust as those in rivals from Audi or BMW and it's doubtful they'll last long over repetitive use – but then the Mustang doesn’t cost anywhere near as much to buy.

This has been partially addressed by the 2022 California Special Edition, which lifts the interior somewhat with suede-look grey ‘Miko’ (recycled polyester) on the inner door panels and parts of the seats. Meanwhile, ‘Carbon Hex’ aluminium trim covers the instrument panel, there’s a special plaque and plenty of embossed GT/CS logos. 

A common theme with coupes or sports cars that are made into convertibles is that they become softer and less rigid when the roof is down. This is true of the Mustang Convertible – it’s more of a comfortable cruiser than a true performance car. For that, we'd opt for the Fastback Coupe.

The car’s American origins are clear, too – it’s awfully wide. So much so that it doesn’t matter if you’re on a small country road or a four-lane motorway, you’ll always be conscious of the Mustang’s size.

On a more image conscious note, we'd avoid the grey paint finish seen in our test car - it drags down the brash styling. Mustangs are by no means understated, so we'd opt for a brighter colour – particularly the no-cost Race Red or the triple coated Tri-Yellow.

Practicality & boot space

The Ford Mustang Convertible has adequate space for passengers and luggage

As it’s technically a four-seater, the Mustang Convertible is more practical than you might think. Those rear seats aren’t just for show either – they can fit adults at a pinch. They’re more suitable for children, or adult passengers on short journeys.

There's a few beneficial storage spaces inside, including a large central cubbyhole in the centre console and door bins that can swallow up all but the largest of bottles. However, the glovebox is a little on the small side.

The boot is a pretty decent size, offering a total of around 320 litres of luggage space. That’s more than Mustang Convertibles of old, but it’s not enough to beat the 360-litres boot in an Audi A5 Cabriolet. Still, it’s sufficient for a couple of golf bags or two large suitcases. That space can't be expanded by lowering the rear seats, however, because of the convertible's construction and the boot lip is pronounced, so heavy objects will be awkward to get in.

Reliability & safety

The Ford Mustang Convertible is a fairly simple and robust car, so it should be reliable

The Ford Mustang has long been considered a pretty simple and straightforward machine and in its native America, it has a good reputation for reliability. It should prove pretty safe in the event of a crash, too.

The latest Ford Mustang is almost as new to American buyers as it is to us Brits, so it’s hard to say for sure how durable it’ll be. However, as mentioned, it has a decent record in this regard in its homeland.

Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 engine has been around for many years, but the version in this Mustang has been specially developed. Even so, we’d expect most problems to have been ironed out by now. Whether the interior stands up to abuse is more open to debate. We think it’s tough enough to stand up to abuse – the Mustang sells by the bucketload in the US – but it could end up looking a bit scruffy with age.

There’s a raft of standard equipment, including high-performance brakes (they’re even more powerful if you choose the GT Performance Package) and a wide range of airbags. There’s also a world first: Ford’s Active Glovebox is a glovebox door that expands into an airbag to protect the passenger’s knees.

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