The Turbo Revolution Continues
By: Cam Benty
Photos by Cam Benty and Ford Motor Company
In World War II, the technique of turbocharging engines was used with great success to boost engine power, which was especially needed at high altitude where thin air would rob critically needed horsepower. While Ford EcoBoost Mustangs stick to the earth’s surface, the power generated by the four-cylinder engine backed with a pair of turbochargers is attracting a large crowd of very happy consumers.
While the Mustang GT, with its powerful V8 engine, may steal the headlines for peak performance, the EcoBoost delivers a more usable power source that sips fuel while providing enough power to handle most consumer needs. In addition, it avoids some of the significant insurance premium penalties that commonly come when HP figures top the 400 barrier. Rated at 310 hp and 320 lb. ft. of torque, the four-cylinder Mustang stigma that surrounded the launch of this platform in 2015 has been overcome for all but a diehard group of V8 loyalists.
Offered with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Select Shift automatic with optional steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, the gear selection is as positive in good hands. Rated at 30-mpg highway, we found the EcoBoost’s overall mileage to be in the 28 mpg combined fuel mileage range – far above the 24mpg figure touted by the EPA for the city/highway rating.
Wrapped around the twin turbo four-cylinder engine is an impressive vehicle that is the most advanced Mustang to ever roll from the assembly line. One of the best looking Mustangs of all time, the current model features a host of high tech internal features that complement the driver and passenger’s experience.
For starters, the seating position and occupant support are excellent. While some will be at first unfamiliar the race-inspired bolster side grip, it doesn’t take a long trip to recognize the reduction in driver fatigue. The rear seat – is like all cars of this type – great for carrying a small package or garment. There is no way that a human can use this area as a seat. Mark that – “nothing has changed” for those with any Mustang experience.
The instrument panel is a careful blend of old and new. As was the case since back in 1967, two large round pods provide the key speed and engine rev info. As is only possible today, the area between the pods provides a huge amount of adjustable information from tire pressure and mileage to entertainment, navigation and climate details. The steering wheel is rife with additional controls that allow full dashboard input along with radio controls (to help keep your hands on the wheel) to cruise control adjustments.
Just like in the 1960’s, a set of toggle switches help control a number of key features. Today more modern and safety-compatible switches are mounted just above the console, which is also where you’ll find the start button. Included in the toggle switch array are the hazard warning and traction control override – for those looking to return to the glory days of tire smoking stop light starts.
The fully electronic climate controls allow you to tune your comfort to within a degree and for each occupant. The air vents throughout the interior are well positioned and can be shut down if needed. The center mounted navigational screen is large and well-designed allowing easy route guidance. Having spent a lot of personal time with the Ford navigational screens makes this system very intuitive.
While using the hands free phone system, it was easy to make can receive calls along with other small phone functions however it was not always easy for folks to hear us. Some of our auditory issues could have been due to the slightly louder interior noise allowed by the convertible top, but we found the same issues with an earlier coupe we tested as well. In addition, while stylish, the side view mirrors give limited visibility of the areas on either side of the vehicle. The warning lights that illuminate in the side mirrors to alert us of vehicle traffic in our blind spot were certainly welcome
Cut to the Chase
Bottom line – the EcoBoost version of the latest Mustang offers an excellent alternative to the GT high performance versions. For 90% of the Mustang buyers, the EcoBoost-equipped model will deliver not only adequate performance but considerably better fuel mileage and probably better a better driving experience. The handling on both the V8 and EcoBoost are impressive, the V8 stretching the limits of tire adhesion, the EcoBoost, not so much.
For many reasons, the EcoBoost Mustang is a hot seller. In our testing it was clear that the joys of fewer fill ups outweighed the ability to let the V8 to smoke the tires. The EcoBoost Mustang sports all the tech luxury of the highest performing Mustangs but with a more street compatible personality. Especially in street driving, the EcoBoost was much easier to drive and with the top down, was quiet and comfortable. For our money – this was the Mustang for us!