So, Ford–or “OneFord” for the purposes of this review–wants to sell the Mustang overseas. Indeed, we North Americans are finally seeing the arrival of cool Euro-centric hatches like the Fiesta ST (and soon, the Focus RS)—all thanks to the globalization of Ford. The Blue Oval wants to get the most mileage out of every model, meaning they need to be made available for all markets (see: OneFord). The Mustang, then, could not be exempt.
After all, it’s kind of been one of Ford’s defining models over the years, appearing one tweak short of appealing to Europeans.
So that one tweak comes in the form of this: the Mustang EcoBoost.
Yes; that’s what it’s being called; I would have liked “Mustang Turbo”—just sounds a little tougher, a little more hi-po—but we digress.
It’s powered by an all-new engine, a 2.3L EcoBoost turbo four-banger that makes 310 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s also good for a claimed 10.6 L/100 km in the city and 7.5 on the highway, assuming you’ve selected the six-speed manual transmission. The auto does a bit better on the highway, and a little worse ‘round town. It’s these figures that are what’s to be the guiding light to Mustang for Europeans, whose gas prices make even ours in Canada seem pretty tame.
What you see here is a model equipped with said manual transmission (because it’s better on gas and I feel there’s no other way to have a pony car like this, anyway), but on top of all that, it’s also equipped with the Performance Package which provides bigger tires, a 3.55 rear axle ratio and those fan-bloody-tastic, blacked-out, 19-in wheels. Those are the only choice if you do spec said package and while they may be a little bit too sinister for some, they look very good, especially in contrast with the Oxford White paintjob.
On the styling: I’ve heard the complaints; the softness of the rear end, the almost too hatchback-y profile—but I chalk this up to the growing pains felt when an all-new model is released. You’ll always have your traditionalists that are going to get their noses out of joint.
Look closer, however, and some tantalizing and very Mustang-like details begin to emerge. The headlight lenses, while narrower than before and now fitted with LED DRLs, still get the hooded look both of the last ‘Stang and models previous. The progressive rear indicators return (as do the three-bulb taillights), and the long hood is all ‘Stang. This is still a very purposeful and good-looking car.
Inside, it’s once again of some new and some old; the retro, deeply-recessed gauges return, but the fonts displayed are far more modern looking than they once were. You gotta love how “RPM” is shown as “Revolutions per Minute” and “Ground Speed” is inscribed on the speedometer; typically, we associate the Corvette with the playboy fighter pilots of the ‘60s, but Ford’s doing its part to give this latest ‘Stang a bit of all-American aviator chops.
We also had the optional cloth Recaro seats in our car; they cost an additional $1,500 and while they do well to keep you firmly in place and supported, it would be nice to have them included as part of the Performance Package. And if you want them heated and cooled, you have to select the EcoBoost Premium model from the get-go, which starts at $33,859, an additional $5,500 over the standard EcoBoost, which already adds $3,000 to the base, V6-powered Mustang.
After all that, though, you still get that familiar feeling as soon as you drop yourself into that deep, Recaro seat.
That great view out over the long hood, the three-spoke steering wheel (that has a few more buttons now, but finally, it tilts AND telescopes) and nice, stubby shifter all do their part to remind you that you’re sat in something special.
However, once you do hit that starter button, well, let’s just say what you don’t hear takes a little getting used to.
Turbo’d engines are inherently quiet, and that doesn’t really change here; not at idle, anyway. I guess you do miss some of the gruff drama associated with firing a good ol’ American V8, but all it takes is a dip or two into the throttle to change things a little.
Once you start to get on it, the sound through the twin-outlet exhaust takes on a bit of a raspy, metallic, even BMW-esque tone. It’s not bad, and it shows that Ford hasn’t forgotten that even the EcoBoost deserves to be heard.
Peak torque comes at 3,000 r.p.m., which is actually lower than what’s required of the V8. Peak power, meanwhile, arrives at 5,500. So, while initial acceleration is brisk (once you get past the slight turbo lag), you’ll want to keep revving it do get the most out of that nice powerband. That’s also another reason to go with the manual.
The Performance Package also adds sportier steering which, combined with a lighter front end, means the EcoBoost switches directions with gumption. The steering is also surprisingly feelsome (it is an electronically-assisted set-up), which just adds another layer to the performance creds of this ‘Stang. And, when it comes time to halt the proceedings, the upgraded brakes are on-hand to clamp down and have you halted in a hurry.
Or, if comfort is what you’re more concerned about, the switch from a live rear axle to a multi-link set-up should appease most. This is a muscle car, after all, and muscle cars aren’t supposed to be comfortable. Having said that, bumps and berms are much more easily dealt with, the pogo-stick like attitude of the old car’s rear end greatly reduced.
The real take away, however, is that engine. While you’ll never quite have the manic, instantaneous acceleration you’ll get with the V8, I drove the two back-to-back on the launch program and the separation isn’t as marked as you’d expect. Yes, it runs out of steam a little on the steeper grades, but the power that’s made is all anyone should need for their daily activities, and even a track day here and there (in that light, the Performance Package also adds the TrackApps suite, which track your 0-100 km/h times, braking times and even has a g-meter).
Of course, the bottom line is that you can get all this for under 35-grand if you skip the Recaro seats, which could very well be the performance steal out there right now.
Just don’t forget to thank the Europeans.