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Boosted ’Stang: import tuners eat your heart out

28 February 2016


A turbo … what? That’s right, Ford made the iconic 50th anniversary Mustang with a turbo four-banger. But, is it any good?

I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea about Mustangs. All I know is that they’re from America, they’re large, and usually don’t handle too well from the factory. With this in the back of my mind, I was keen to see what the 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost was like. Was it going to be the classic case of not enough motor for such a large vehicle? 

From what I have read about the 2.3-litre GTDi EcoBoost Mustang, it packs a huge amount of torque (432Nm) and a fair whack of power (233kW). To compare that with something you’re used to seeing us write about, it almost directly compares to the legendary 2JZ-GTE engine, going off specs. Hey, it even produces the same torque as my old GTO, which was a three-litre twin-turbo V6 …

Alright, don’t judge me. I know it’s a convertible … but it has the right engine, alright! When you jump into the Mustang, adjust the rear-view mirror and the seat to your preference, then look forward — you notice just how large this vehicle is. Now, I’m used to the GTO and a mate’s JZA80 Supra, and at the time they seemed like fairly large vehicles. But they’d be dwarfed by this gigantor. The bonnet is so large, only god knows where it ends, and rear-view visibility through the convertible’s singular rear window is minimal. Boost though René, it has boost. 

Size extremities and visibility issues were pushed from my mind the minute I fired the engine. Only out of pure concentration though, as I was trying to listen for an engine note … no it wasn’t the resident Corolla parked next to me in the work carpark, it was the EcoBoost. The idling tune of the EcoBoost was disappointing, however this is a factory vehicle … maybe the drive was going to bring more joy — ‘D’ was selected with the auto lever, and we were off. 

Torque; this car makes tons of the stuff, and from down low too. As soon as the boost comes on, you’re rocketing away towards whatever you have the rudder pointed at. Now to see how much boost it’s running on the factory electronic boost gauge — 1.2bar! That explains the huge surge of torque then. But does the power go all the way to the redline? Thankfully, technology has come a long way since the old days of peaky power or low-down torque. With variable cam timing and twin-scroll turbo tech, we’re getting much broader power bands than we used too. Although power does drop off up top, it’s nowhere near as bad as what a ’90s vehicle would’ve had with similar power. Nice job, Ford. 

The whole point behind the EcoBoost was that it would provide entertainment for the performance enthusiasts, but be better on fuel than the V8 GT model, and I can say after driving around the city for over an hour, it was fairly fuel efficient, and the torque on offer was fantastic for shooting a gap, or racing people off at the lights.. 

From what I’ve been reading on Ford tuning websites, the EcoBoost engine has proven extremely potent with only minor upgrades, with the reflash proving the best bang for buck in terms of torque and horsepower gain. 

The handling from this large vehicle is a bit daunting at first. It’s the kind of size you need to be careful with, but once you get the hang of it around town, it isn’t too bad. It is, however, much happier out on the open road. Did I mention the huge brakes? The calipers are ginormous! It stops good, turns alright, but boosts extremely well. 

As a performance car enthusiast, would I buy one for $57,880 plus on-road costs? Personally, I wouldn’t. It’s too large and uninspiring for my liking. For the same money, I would purchase a brand-new Toyota GT86, and have it converted to a 2JZ-GTE engine and call it a day. That’s me though. I also don’t see the point in buying the lower-spec version of something, when the GT version will hold its value much better than the EcoBoost, but again, I am Dutch! 

The one thing I am surprised most about though, is Ford’s acceptance to the aftermarket. You can head to Ford’s website, and order your factory-backed performance upgrades before you even pick up the vehicle! Exhausts, tunes, strut-braces, larger wheels, and lowering springs — you name it, Ford sell it, and back it. That’s the kind of company I want to get behind, so for that, Ford, well done. Maybe when I’m a few years older and they become more obtainable, I’ll pick one up. For now though, I will watch the other punters be the test mules..