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CoverMotoIQ: DRIVEN – 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

by Billy Johnson

We test Ford’s new 2015 Mustang EcoBoost to determine if a turbocharged 4-cylinder Mustang bridges the gap between the American Hot-Rodding community and Import Tuners.  How does the Ecoboost stack up against rear-wheel drive icons such as the Honda S2000, turbocharged all-wheel-drive cars like the Subaru WRX, and hot hatches like the VW Golf GTI?  Read on to find out.

In December of last year, I was at Gary Yeomans Ford in Daytona Beach to test the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang GT.  I originally intended to do a back-to-back comparison of the 5.0L GT and the new turbocharged 2.3L four-banger.  Unfortunately for me, 2015 Mustangs were flying off the lot and in short supply.  There was only a handful of manual GTs for me to test and no Ecoboosts.  Since then, I’ve seen increasingly more 2015 Mustangs on the road and in late January, I found myself back in Daytona for round 1 of the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series (where I race a Ford BOSS 302R), and had the opportunity to finally test an Ecoboost Mustang.

 

Gary Yeomans Ford FrontGary Yeomans Ford in Daytona Beach, FL has rows of 2015 Mustangs on their lot.  They have been very accommodating and were gracious enough to allow me to test a base Ecoboost and Performance Package equipped cars.

Since I have already covered the major changes, details, and features of the all-new S550 chassis with its independent rear suspension in my review of the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, I will only discuss differences relevant to the EcoBoost Mustang and how it compares to some of the most popular tuner platforms and cars that are commonly seen at your local track day.

Why the return of a 4-cylinder turbocharged Mustang?  For the first time in its history, the Mustang is a global platform that needs to satisfy much higher expectations and broader requirements from safety, fuel economy, and refinement.  We are a bit spoiled in the US with relatively cheap gas (especially in the past few months) and minor gas-guzzler taxes.  In Europe and Asia, fuel costs 2-4 times as much per gallon and there are heavy taxes on the size of a car’s engine.  Because of this, the 2.3L Ecoboost Mustang is a very appealing option that will likely be the number one selling Mustang worldwide.  From a power standpoint, keep in mind that only 6 years ago in 2009, the 4.6L SOHC 3-valve V8 Mustang GT made less power (300hp) than the new Ecoboost.

But we don’t live in Europe or Asia, so why not buy a V8?  While I don’t see the hardcore, supercharger-loving V8 Mustang fans jumping ship for a turbocharged 4-cylinder, I think the Ecoboost Mustang will appeal to a far more diverse range of buyers due to its greater fuel economy, peppy engine, tuning potential, and more affordable price point.  Since it’s competitively priced, I think the Ecoboost will take some market share away from the hot-hatch and turbocharged import market because its rear-wheel-drive platform really appeals to driving enthusiasts and track-day warriors. 

 

Ecoboost FrontFrom the outside of the car, there are very few visual differences between the 4-cylinder Ecoboost and the V8.  The front Grill does not have the cool ‘fangs’ of the V8, while the 50th Anniversary Package frames the pony with chrome bars that extend across the width of the grill.
Ecoboost HoodThe hood on the Ecoboost is void of any heat extracting vents like those on the GT.
Ecoboost IntercoolerThe Ecoboost’s bar and plate intercooler shines through the lower grill with unobstructed airflow for improved cooling.
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Comments
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 5:23 AM
Enthusiasts have always been disappointed by the stock dampers Ford puts on their Mustangs. I assume they put "squishy" parts on to make the car more comfortable or refined-feeling, but upgrading the dampers is usually one of the easiest and most transformative mods you can do on a Mustang.
Sootfoot
Sootfootlink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:27 AM
Great review Billy! The new car book magazines basically dismissed the Ecoboost because it didn't have a menacing v8 under the hood. Boy do we have short memories now that gas is around $2 /gal. I think this engine is a great alternative to the forgettable v6 why bother options. Sure you don't get the v8 sound but the thrust out performs the v8 from just a few years ago.
Sootfoot
Sootfootlink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:29 AM
That Focus RS makes me seriously want to spend money I shouldn't.
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 7:43 AM
I wouldn't call the stock shocks 'squishy' since there is a lot of highspeed damping (especially in the PP). The Mustang is a mass-production car rather than niche market cars like S2000s, FRS/BRZ, etc... and since Mustangs do sell well, Ford has come up with a good balance in their suspension to please a lot of people.

Now the factory suspension on a BOSS 302 is more geared towards enthusiasts, but throwing a set of coilovers on any Mustang wakes them up and the 2015 is really on a set of coilovers.
SM_Clay72
SM_Clay72link
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 12:58 PM
1st aftermarket part i would want is a relocated coolant expansion bottle! That thing is hideous and a jug of water hanging out in front of the front wheels is not helping anyone!

It's god a bit of a valve cover dress up, but i like that they haven't gone wild with the plastic trying to make the engine bay look slick and like something from a recovered alien spacecraft.
Hasbro
Hasbrolink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 6:29 PM
Good read. Enjoyed all of the comparisons. Thanks.
theneil
theneillink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 8:52 PM
25 years later we finally get a silvia, cept its 2000 lbs heavier and made by mazda. i mean ford.. cough
sr20freak
sr20freaklink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 10:24 PM
I have never wanted a Ford, ever. but.......... I am really rethinking my stand on this. Awesome write-up.
Reedicus
Reedicuslink
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 10:45 PM
Great review and comparison. In general I wish the mustang was maybe 7/8's its current size & weight. I think the turbo 4 looks like a great motor.

What I really want is a RX-8 with that engine under the hood.
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 5:28 AM
@theneil - the Silvia is a pretty iconic drift car, however at 247hp and (2,750-3,200lbs?) it has ~63hp less while being anywhere from 460-900lbs lighter than the Ecoboost. Not sure what the Mazda reference was for when the Ecoboost has a completely different head while sharing the same bore x stroke as Mazda's 2.3L MZR/DISI motor.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 9:16 PM
Great Review Billy! I think a lot of people aren't seeing the crazy car year that 2015 has become. The new model roll outs are vastly different in so many ways and the debuts of upcoming models have been crazy. I mean, how long did we ask: When will Ford ever put IRS on a Mustang? Ford is on a roll with the new GT and the sick new RS is coming stateside!
If you haven't driven the new FA20F aka FA20DIT, I suggest it. Subaru has gone smaller and uped the ante. The twin scroll turbo has MINIMALIZED any lag.
I want a crack at the 2015 Golf R....but would rather buy the new A4 or TT at that price!
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