Okay, let’s get this straight right off the top: The redesigned sixth-generation 2015 Ford Mustang Convertible, fitted with the twin-turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, is a great car.

It has an attention-getting physical presence with all the visual drama expected of a top-trim Mustang. It has a modern new independent rear suspension that, combined with the four-cylinder engine’s lighter front-axle weight versus the V8-powered Mustang GT, gives the EcoBoost Mustang genuine handling chops and a fun-to-drive demeanour. It makes plenty enough power, with 310 horses and 320 lb-ft of torque on tap under your right foot, delivered in a rapid, linear rush. It’s luxurious, with all the available bells and whistles you could possibly wish for. And it’s even reasonably practical for a sports drop-top, with comfortable front seats, tolerable back seats, a decent-size (323 litre) trunk, and surprisingly good fuel economy – at least when you’re not flogging it.

It’s also not the first time a four-cylinder engine has been offered in a Mustang: The third-generation Mustang of 1979-1986 used a 2.3L four-cylinder as its base engine, and even offered a performance-oriented turbocharged four-cylinder from 1984-1986, called the Mustang SVO.

So let’s not get all wound-up complaining that Mustang’s new-for-2015 EcoBoost engine is the emasculation of the North American muscle car. It’s not. It’s more like the Europeanization of the North American muscle car (is that even a word?), and if you’re Ford and you’re trying to compete with European and Japanese marques both here and abroad, there’s nothing wrong with that. It means that the sixth-generation Mustang can be sold worldwide for the first time in the model’s history (it’s being sold in both left-hand and right-hand drive in over 100 markets around the globe), and it means that in North America, Ford can offer a version of the Mustang that might just tempt potential buyers of Audi and BMW Cabriolets into the Ford fold. More choice is good, and hey, if you still want the big, rumbling V8 it’s just an option-tick away.

In the case of my test car, Ford ticked not just the EcoBoost option box, but pretty much every other option you can get with this powertrain. For the convertible, the EcoBoost powertrain comes only in Premium trim (the Fastback EcoBoost can be had in standard or Premium trim), and on top of this Ford loaded my test car up with the $1,600 automatic transmission, a $2,000 Equipment Group 201 package (adding Shaker audio system, memory driver’s seat and mirrors, and blind spot information system), a $1,600 adaptive cruise control package, a $3,000 EcoBoost performance package (adding 19-inch wheels and 3.55:1 limited slip differential), $350 reverse park assist, $800 navigation system, $1,700 50th Anniversary package, and $550 tricoat yellow paint. We’ll get to the total cost later, but for those doing the math, that’s a whopping $11,500 worth of options.

From the beginning: Evolution of the Mustang

Inside, the new Mustang retains the classic “dual cowl” cockpit styling while raising the bar significantly in terms of materials and finish compared to the previous-generation models. Rigid plastics still make up things like the console sides and lower dash, but overall the materials appear more luxurious, and soft-touch surfaces abound. My test car featured a stitched leather-look dash top with milled aluminum trim running the width of the dash itself, and playful touches include aircraft-style (some might say Mini-style) toggle switches for several functions (the hazard lights, traction-control defeat, steering mode and drive mode). Speaking of playful touches, my test car was also fitted with exterior puddle lights that project the Mustang emblem onto the ground when you touch the door handle.

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