Reaching toward that familiar dash, I push the start button and the Coyote rumbles to life. Its lively burble is always a welcome accompaniment, but it’s about to earn an even more prominent place as the soundtrack of my drive. Turning the handle and pushing a single button, the windows roll down and the top drops quicker than an NMRA Renegade racer covers the quarter mile.

In about seven seconds, the California sun envelops the cabin and I flick a switch on the dash to put the Active Valve Performance Exhaust in Sport mode. Pulling away from my hotel, I merge with the traffic. Soon enough I am rolling down Sunset Boulevard past so many iconic locations. Surrounding the 2019 Mustang GT convertible, are the usual high-end SUVs and hybrid fuel sippers. I see a few more supercars than usual as well, but the Mustang still turns heads.

Talk about the perfect companion for driving to a beachfront concert and car show — a 2019 Mustang GT Premium convertible. (Photo Credit: Steve Turner)

Sprayed in the new-for-’19 Velocity Blue, this Premium model is loaded up with all the toys, from touchscreen navigation to the aforementioned active exhaust. With satellite radio providing the soundtrack and the exhaust punctuating the occasional acceleration, the latest Mustang even makes California traffic palatable.

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After a day of sightseeing, it was time to head for the coast. I was bound for Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show, and I can’t think of a better chariot to take me there than a new convertible. There really is no better car to appreciate the glorious SoCal weather than a droptop.

It takes a while to break free from the chokehold of traffic en route to Huntington Beach. As such there are rare times to let the Coyote howl. Along the way, there were a few times I lamented the absence of MagneRide to dampen bumps, but once I found a corkscrew onramp, which is pretty common in these parts, I quickly switched into Track mode and dropped the hammer. The tires gave a bit of protest, but the car gobbled up the turn and slingshot onto the highway. I may not have been driving 55, but given my destination, it seems like that was appropriate behavior.

With 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque on tap, the Gen 3 Coyote powering the latest convertible offers sufficient thrust to blast ahead of those California drivers who just don’t want you to merge.

Before entering the highway, I had closed the top as quickly as it had opened. It was time to appreciate just how far convertible Mustangs have come. Sure they aren’t quite as fast or quiet as their hardtop counterparts, but the latest models have really closed the gap. I am not one that would have considered one for daily use in years past, but if you are into them, there really isn’t much of a downside. Exterior sound is pleasantly dampened in the 2019 with the top up and the exhaust mode at a tamer setting — if only for a moment.

Aside from the win-win convertible proposition, getting back behind the wheel of a manual 2019 Mustang for the first time since prowling the streets of San Francisco in the new Bullitt reinforced my love of shift-it-yourself ’Stangs.

Whether you have adjusted to the second-gen S550 styling refresh or not, the latest pony car unmistakably carries those Mustang styling cues. Sprayed in the striking Velocity Blue it turned heads amongst far more expensive vehicles on Sunset Boulevard.

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Sure the new auto is always going to run quicker at the drag strip, but it is still so much fun to shift it yourself, especially with the 2019 doing the rev-matching for you on the way down. Those smooth shifts pay off while ripping down the off-ramp, but it even makes it fun around town as that gentle rev as you downshift becomes an unintentional reminder to those hybrid drivers that appliances just aren’t that much fun.

Naturally, a V8-powered Mustang convertible is all about fun. Whether I was cruising down Sunset in traffic or or along the Pacific Coast Highway in the early morning on the hunt for a photo location, I was always smiling behind the wheel.

You might give up a little speed and allow in a touch more outside noise, but the latest convertibles are still fast and fun enough to enjoy every day. Plus, if you have cool air and sunny days like California, dropping the top will always help with a few more smiles per gallon.

On the morning of the High Tide festival (check out the complete coverage here), I clicked the exhaust into Quiet mode in deference to the sleeping hotel guests and dropped the top. Heading south as the sun rose to my left, I resisted the urge to let it rip on the open stretch of highway. This was no time to get a ticket. I needed photos before the event.

Coasting to a stop I looked over to my right and a guy in a newish F-150 had his windows rolled down. He looked over, smiled and said: “Nice.”

The leather interior featured blue stitching accents, which tied in the exterior color into the cockpit and classed up the joint. The navigation’s SiriusXM travel link proved quite useful avoiding the biggest bottlenecks on the road, but I neglected to sample Waze via CarPlay, so that is on the list for the next Mustang I drive. Thanks to the match-rev downshift technology added to the latest MT-82 six-speed manual, this car is even more fun to drive — even in SoCal traffic.

My smile turned to a grin, and I responded, “Thanks,” as the light turned green and I rumbled on to my location. In the end, the latest Mustang is better than just nice, but that’s how it makes people feel whether they are driving it or not. One blast on the on-ramp or drop of the top can change your whole mood, which is why there is more to driving a pony car convertible than getting from point A to point B — and the latest example delivers on that promise.

2019 Mustang GT Premium Convertible Options

• 12-inch LCD instrument cluster with MyColor

• Active Valve Performance Exhaust

• Selectable drive modes with four-gang toggle switch pack

• Velocity Blue paint

• Voice-activated Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and TravelLink

Total MSRP: $48,945

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