So often the mention of a Ford Mustang convertible conjures up images of smoking tires, hard shifts and big performance. However, the 2024 Mustang EcoBoost model is better utilized by those looking for a nice, slow cruise in the sunshine.
The expression “different horses for different courses” is said to have originated in the world of horse racing, in which some horses perform better on certain tracks than others. Along those same lines, while the 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible performs well for the general public, automotive enthusiasts will likely find it wanting.
The Pony Has Been Corralled
The cause for this can be ascribed to the fact that the people who make decisions at Ford have decreed the company’s 10-speed automatic transmission to be the sole means of routing engine output to the rear wheels.
In other words, the EcoBoost Mustang is an automatic-only proposition.
Now, that — in and of itself — is not an altogether bad decision. The problem lies in the fact that said 10-speed automatic transmission has been coerced into “thinking” its primary mission is to return good fuel economy — as opposed than strong performance.
A Precedent Does Exist
Granted, a robust case can be made for good fuel economy these days. Moreover, a large number of Mustang buyers value the image the car projects over its sheer capability. Yes, sports fans, regardless of the depths of the wells of denial within which driving enthusiasts are mired, a substantial number of Mustangs have been sold without V8 engines over the years.
After all, going all the way back to 1964, Lee Iacocca’s overriding goal was to sell as many these cars as possible. He knew a less costly version of the Mustang would help the model find its way into far more garages.
And so, a 6-cylinder option has been part of the Mustang’s product portfolio from the very beginning. The original inline 6 ultimately evolved into a V6, which was subsequently laid to rest when the 310 horsepower, 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine took up residence in Mustang engine bays for the 2015 model year.
It then proceeded to outsell the V8s by 2019.
Four Doesn’t Have to Mean Slow
What’s more, model year 2020 brought what enthusiasts would consider a stimulating iteration of the 2.3-liter turbocharged 4. The 332-hp High Performance version, lifted from the Ford Focus RS, was also good for 350 pound-feet of torque.
That powerplant delivered in ways one expects of a Mustang. Moreover, allied with a 6-speed manual transmission, it dispensed more than sufficient exhilaration — albeit without the classic James Earl Jones baritone of the V8s.
Except When It Does
Interestingly, the current 315-hp version of the 2.3-liter matches the High Performance engine’s torque output. It also delivers 33 mpg on the highway, 22 in the city and 26 overall. Unfortunately, in order to post those fuel economy numbers, the engine is teamed with a transmission that neuters its performance.
The gearbox also calls to the foreground some of the worst characteristics of the 2.3-liter. Insistent upon running in the highest gear possible, the transmission lugs the engine, which generates the most unpleasant drone one will ever hear coming from a Mustang (hopefully). Further, the transmission offers but two forward modes — Drive and Low.
Selecting low forces the engine to run close to redline, while extracting more performance, isn’t always a desirable occurrence. Because of the way the transmission is configured, the engine either works too hard or not hard enough — there is no in-between. That said, I’m told things are better with the optional paddle shifters, which my test car did not have.
Does It Really Matter?
Still though, the only people who will likely care about any of that are those to whom the car is not aimed. As has always been the case, the Mustang’s audience is made up of two core groups. And, those for whom the 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible is intended will find its usability and customizability are exceptional.
Mustang’s traditional analog instrumentation has given way to digital displays like those of the infotainment system’s controls. The performance readouts are configurable in multiple ways, while the infotainment screen now controls HVAC functions along with audio, navigation and communications.
The infotainment system’s new software, Sync 4.0, is both easier to operate and responds faster to inputs than its predecessors. Customization options include mood lighting, a variety of gauge cluster choices and six drive modes.
Different Horse for Different Courses
Long story short, equipped with the 10-speed automatic, the EcoBoost Mustang is best suited for low-key styling and profiling. Which, when you factor in the folding roof, supple ride quality and the ease with which the car can be driven, also makes the 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible the perfect rental for popular tourist destinations.
Which is a course on which its V8-powered siblings would feel underutilized.
However, those attributes also make the car ideal for potential buyers who love the look, but don’t care about smoking their rear tires through corners.
The 2024 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible’s pricing starts at $41,495. Price as tested was $49,455.