If the convertible isn’t yet on the list of endangered automotive species, it’s awfully close.
In fairness, it’s been that way for a while now, the segment’s threatened status a result of collective car-buying tastes changing all at once. Looking at the mainstream market, there are just four to choose from, including the ever-charming Mazda MX-5 and the quirky-but-cool Mini Cooper.
The 2022 Ford Mustang Convertible might have a different sort of appeal than that pint-sized pair, but the essentials are the same. More importantly, it’s brimming with just as much character as either of them.
Driving Feel: 10/10
Just to be clear, it’s not as if this Mustang has the same sort of character as those compacts – and in fairness, they aren’t all that similar, either – but rather that its unique personality shines through just as brightly. It’s a driver’s car first and foremost, and it responds playfully when prodded. It’s also somewhat customizable, with drive modes and steering settings that can be adjusted independently.
This tester getting its power from a turbocharged four-cylinder might lead to some grumbling from Mustang diehards, but the 2.3L has proven itself worthy of its place under this pony car’s hood. In fact, the weight reduction compared to the conventional V8 version is noticeable when cornering. Cutting 127 kg (280 lb) from a car, most of it over the front wheels, has a way of enhancing agility, and it’s entirely on display here.
Also boosting this car’s acumen was the pricey performance package ($6,500) that includes stuff like sticky summer tires and enhanced suspension components, plus a numerically lower limited-slip rear differential ratio and an active exhaust system. They’re exactly the kind of extras a car like this needs to feel that much more special, and they’re covered by the factory warranty.
Paired with a six-speed manual transmission, this Mustang is more sports car than muscle car – a characterization that’s true of this generation in general, but particularly with the weight reduction that comes with the turbo motor. It dives headlong into corners with the same kind of precision as something like the new Nissan Z, while the notchy shifter and cooperative clutch are an outstanding combination.
With the performance pack – and expensive 93-octane in the tank – the 2.3L spins up 350 lb-ft of torque to go with 330 hp. While those numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping next to the Mustang GT that generates 450 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, the fact they’re coming from a four-cylinder makes them rather impressive. While clutch-dumping, tire-smoking shenanigans weren’t part of this testing regimen, goosing the gas was enough to send this convertible scurrying ahead with a sense of purpose.
A hearty soundtrack was along for the ride, too, courtesy of the active exhaust that features a handful of settings to pick from. No, it doesn’t sound like a V8, which takes some getting used to, but it’s enjoyable in its own right. Graciously – at least for the neighbours – there’s a quiet-start mode that closes baffles inside the system so it fires up with a lot less rowdiness.
User Friendliness: 9/10
Those exhaust modes and other settings are barely more than the press of a button or the flick of a toggle away, all of which add a sense of simplicity to the way the drive can be customized. A button on the steering wheel calls up various performance-related parameters in the instrument cluster, while a row of toggles at the base of the centre stack can be used to adjust steering feel and drive mode, as well as traction control. Even the digital instrument display can be cycled through a few different layouts.
The less exciting stuff is equally easy to operate, including the power soft top that barely takes a handful of seconds to open or close. The rest of the controls inside look and feel dated, as does the infotainment interface that runs through an eight-inch touchscreen, but it’s all effective. The display can be a little laggy in its response to inputs, especially immediately after start-up, but it’s a model of simplicity otherwise.
Climbing in and out of the Mustang is easy thanks to its large doors and comfy seats that wouldn’t feel out of place in a crossover. Far from a criticism, it means a one-size-fits-most approachability. Rearward visibility is compromised at least a little with the top up, but it just provides one more excuse to lower it as often as possible.
Convertibles and the coupes they’re based on aren’t particularly practical cars, but the Mustang comes close to qualifying as such. Not that the rear seats offer much legroom – especially not with tall occupants up front – but these ones are for more than just appearances, while the 324-L trunk is of a reasonable size. It’s space for everyday items that’s lacking, with miniscule door pockets managing little more than wallets and glasses cases, and console cupholders precisely where a forearm rests naturally – particularly problematic with the manual transmission handling gear changes.
Fuel Economy: 6/10
Officially, the four-cylinder Mustang Convertible is good for anywhere from 10.1 to 10.9 L/100 km, depending on how it’s equipped. In the case of this tester and its manual transmission and optional performance package, it falls at the top end of that range, with ratings of 12.3 L/100 km in the city and 9.2 on the highway.
Those numbers are far better than the V8 version, which is good for estimates of 15.8 in the city, 10.4 around town, and 13.4 combined. Premium-grade gas recommended, with a performance penalty when using cheaper stuff. It’s also noteworthy that the peak numbers the engine generates are measured on 93-octane fuel.
Only time will tell just how, well, timeless this Mustang remains, but after about eight years on the market it’s still a tastefully aggressive tribute to its earliest ancestors. This convertible perhaps isn’t quite as swoopy and stylish as its coupe counterpart, but its sleek shape cuts a striking profile – particularly with the top down.
With this tester’s black-on-black motif, the interior is a little boring. That’s in spite of the plastic trim on a dash that features a finish akin to machined aluminum, which provides the only eye-catching design element inside. The rest is about function as much as form, like the toggles next to the red-ringed ignition button, or the dash-mounted boost and oil pressure gauges that come with the performance pack.
Despite their demure appearance, the leather-lined seats in this Premium-trimmed tester proved quite comfortable – aided in no small part during this summertime test by the three-stage ventilation (and heat) up front. This being a convertible, the cabin isn’t especially well insulated from outside interference, even with the top up and with the standard active noise cancellation, but that comes with the territory. What this Mustang does well is keep wind out of the cabin with the top down.
It also does an excellent job of absorbing road imperfections, even without the optional adaptive suspension. In fact, the ride quality of this tester was so stellar that we double- and triple-checked for the magnetorheological setup, even going as far as investigating the dampers themselves. That they weren’t part of this build is a testament to the standard suspension kit.
The base convertible is fairly stripped down, with manually-adjustable cloth seats that aren’t heated, manual climate control – even the infotainment system goes without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This Premium trim adds heated and ventilated front seats, satellite radio, those smartphone connections, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Stuff like a heated steering wheel, built-in navigation, and adaptive cruise control is part of an upgrade package that adds $2,800 to the price tag, while the $6,500 performance package comes with all kinds of goodies, plus it bumps output from 310 hp to 330.
There’s a full advanced safety suite, too, and it’s standard. It includes lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. The wipers are also of the automatic rain-sensing variety, and there’s a back-up camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles sold in Canada, plus this tester had rear parking sensors.
While it may lack amenities, the base version offers reasonable value. Its starting price of $39,390 before tax – but including a non-negotiable $2,095 freight charge – is almost identical to that of the drop-top Chevrolet Camaro. (The 10-speed automatic transmission adds $1,750 here and $1,650 to the Chevy, for those crunching the numbers.) As different as it may be, it’s interesting at the very least that the Mini Cooper Convertible rings in at $39,635 before tax regardless of transmission.
The Premium version tested here starts at $46,020, while the options added to it – performance pack, upgraded amenities, 12-speaker stereo, and more – put it a shade over $58,000, which still seems perfectly reasonable given its unique position in the marketplace. It’s also a bit cheaper than the starting price of the V8 convertible.
Eight years on the market has done nothing to diminish any of the specialness that comes with driving this drop-top, and neither does the four-cylinder under the hood of this one in particular. If anything, it adds a sense of uniqueness without sacrificing performance.
Convertibles like this one are a rare commodity these days, with few to choose from and even fewer that offer room for a family of four (albeit barely). That the 2022 Ford Mustang Convertible does it with so much personality is more impressive than this car gets credit for.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||330 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||350 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.3 / 9.2 / 10.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||324 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Convertible|
|Price as Tested||$58,170|
$12,050 – 2.3L High Performance Package, $6,500; 201A Equipment Group, $2,800; 19-inch Nickel-Painted Forged Alloy Wheels, $1,500; B&O 12-Speaker Stereo, $1,000; Floor Liners, $250