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TESTED: Ford Mustang GT Power Packs 1-3

by Billy Johnson

 

Ford Performance offers three different 50-state legal “Power Packs” for the 2015-2017 Mustang GT that increases horsepower without affecting the factory warranty*. We back-to-back test Power Packs 1, 2, & 3 on a stock Mustang GT to see if Ford’s claim of 13-37hp increases are legitimate. We then analyze the GT350 intake manifold’s effect on the torque curve to see if it really has less low-RPM torque than stock in favor of high-RPM power. Finally, we determine which packages would be best for street and track use through in-depth torque and gear ratio analysis.

Ford Performance is really stepping it up from their factory-built hot rods like the Ford GT, GT350/R, Focus RS and Raptor, to supporting the aftermarket with factory-engineered Ford Performance Power Packs and Handling Packs. These Power Packs really cater to those who want OEM-quality calibrations that will not affect the factory 3 year/36,000-mile warranty* (*when installed by a dealer or ASE-certified mechanic) and are 50-state legal and CARB-certified for those who live in the strictly regulated state of California and don’t want to deal with the legal hassles that can come from modifying cars. 

The calibrations that come with these packages are optimized for 91+ octane. This enables the Ford engineers to raise the rev limit and push the envelope beyond the stock tunes that are designed to operate with 87-octane, for the non-enthusiast customers who may not know any better. There is also a pretty neat No-Lift Shift (NLS) strategy which enables the driver to stay full throttle when shifting without bouncing off the rev limiter. In addition to the enhanced throttle response, the calibrations allow for gear ratio changes up to 4.09:1 and work with both automatic and manual cars. There is a lot of confidence in these proprietary calibrations that have OEM-reliability since they were developed by the Ford Engineers that have far more resources at their disposal than what most shops and fly-by-night tuners are capable of. 

For the 2015-2017 Mustang GT, Ford offers three “Power Packs”:

 

Ford Mustang Power Pack 1Power Pack 1 consists of a standard K&N drop-in panel filter and Ford’s ProCal tuning tool, which plugs in to your personal laptop to upload their highly developed calibration.

Power Pack 1 - ( M-9603-M8 ) : 

 -Ford Performance ProCal tool

-Custom calibration (with NLS) that raises rev limit to 7,300 rpm (effectively 7,100 rpm)

-K&N drop-in panel air filter

-13HP & 16lb/ft gains over stock

-40lb/ft gain at 1,500rpm.

 

Ford Mustang GT Power Pack 2Power Pack 2 is a little more involved and utilizes an adapter plate to mount the 7mm larger GT350 throttle body and OEM GT350 “Cold Air Intake” to the factory Coyote intake manifold. All the necessary vacuum lines and hardware are included to make this a very easy bolt-on install.

Power Pack 2 - ( M-9603-M8A ) :

-Ford Performance ProCal tool

-Custom calibration (with NLS) that raises rev limit to 7,350 rpm (effectively 7,150 rpm)

-GT350 Cold Air Intake with CARB certification.

-GT350 87mm Throttle Body with exclusive intake adapter.

-21hp & 24lb/ft peak gains over stock

-40lb-ft gain at 1,500rpm

 

Ford Mustang GT Power Pack 3Power Pack 3 adds the infamous GT350 intake manifold to the rest of the PP2 components as well as an even higher redline and calibration for the unique character of the intake manifold.

Power Pack 3 - ( M-9452-M8 ) :

-Ford Performance ProCal tool

-Custom calibration (with NLS) that raises rev limit to 7,500 rpm

-GT350 Intake Manifold (M-9424-M52)

-GT350 Cold Air Intake with CARB certification

-GT350 87mm Throttle Body

-37hp and 5lb/ft peak gains over stock

-60hp gain at 7,500rpm

 

Quick Reference:
Page 1 - Power Packs
Page 2 - Baseline Dyno
Page 3 - K&N and Power Pack 1 Dynos
Page 4 - Power Pack 2 Install
Page 5 - Power Pack 2 Dynos
Page 6 - GT350 Intake Manifold Analysis
Page 7 - GT350 Intake Manifold Analysis & Install
Page 8 - Power Pack 3 Dynos
Page 9 - Thrust Analysis of PP3 vs PP2, and Bonus Dynos (M3 & GT350R)
Page 10 - Road Test Review and Overview
Page 1 of 10 Next Page
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Comments
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Monday, October 30, 2017 5:51 PM
PP3: 60hp gain at 7,500rpm

over what? it doesn't rev that high stock... so is it only making 60 hp at 7500 rpm? haha
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Monday, October 30, 2017 5:55 PM
@warmmilk - over a stock car with a rev limit raised to 7,500rpm.
Einar
Einarlink
Monday, October 30, 2017 7:40 PM
From this test, It seems off the 3 power packs. The PP2 is the best one for the street.
But when reviewing the PP2. It seems you are not a fan of the open intake and refer to it as the "hot air intake".
But still PP2 gives both more hp/torque then PP1. Ken from KBD thinks it is all because the bigger throttle body that allows the PP2 tune to be for aggressive with added fuel and timing.
So know I like to ask. how can there be a gain from a 87mm throttle body if the opening on the manifold itself is only 80mm. Isn't the restriction then the manifold opening?
Do you think the PP2 gains would be truly better with a true "cold air intake"? Like for exp the Injen evolution intake?

I am personally considering (tune, intake options for a S550 GT) and would want to minimise the under hood heat in the air intake.
I have been looking into the closed air intakes like airaid or the Injen evolution I think is worth a serious look.
But what tune is a big dilemma. and like you say they Ford performance has factory drivability and no issues and that is a huge factor in a street car. But because I won't have warranty to worry about. I simply want the best tune not something that is within warranty parameters. But as a street car 91 oct is ideal. But I guess if the 87mm throttle body is worth it and only the guys at Ford can tune it the PP2 but with a "colder intake" would be the best "street intake/tune combo" I guess or what?
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 10:54 AM
@Einar - I'm not a fan of 'hot air intakes' in general due to their inefficiency which hurts performance in real world conditions.

The larger diameter intake, freer flowing (no sound resonating tubes), larger air filter, and larger throttle body all improve the flow (and power) despite the stock intake manifold's 80mm opening.

Real world gains, gains at speed (ram-air), and AITs will be better with a sealed and true "cold air intake".

Be sure to add insulation to the intake tube and airbox - like from www.HeatShieldProducts.com

Ken from PBD said that its harder for most tuners to make the larger 87mm TB work, but there are aftermarket tuners who can have good driveability. But will it drive as good as this Power Pack? I'm not sure without testing it.

The 'hot air intake' is fine and will make far more power than stock. You can improve the efficiency (and probably power) by adding heat shielding and possibly an air tight top plate.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 11:54 AM
@BillJ
its hard to convey sarcasm over text, I was just being a smartass
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 3:58 PM
Hey we make that GT350 throttle body at my Hitachi plant in KY! I actually worked on those about a year ago. All designed and manufactured in the USA and designed to last 10 years or 150,000 miles. Had no idea they were going on the GT350, that's friggin awesome!!!
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:20 PM
@8695Beaters - have any extra? ;)
Einar
Einarlink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:29 PM
Thank you BillyJ for your answer.

But, are you saying if you were a S550 GT owner and would use it 100% on the street.

You would go with the PP2 and add some heat shielding and possible a top plate over the air filter . Not just use the tune and throttle body and use someone else's brand "true cold air intake"

But maybe that would not workout with the PP2 tune calibrations?
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:58 PM
PP2 vs PP3 depends on the needs of each person. They are quite a bit different with the PP2 having more useful power in the street driving rev range. The PP3 on the other hand drives quite a bit different and has more top end charge and is faster. I don't feel like I'm missing out DDing the PP3.

Whether you have the PP2 or PP3, I would add heat shielding and probably seal the top of the intake with a plate to make it a true "cold air intake" to reduce AITs. It's far from necessary, it just makes the intake that much better.

You won't retain the warranty and probably not the driveability for going with an aftermarket tune.
Einar
Einarlink
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 5:31 PM
Thanks again for your answer.

Warranty is not something I will have. So that is not a factor. But I guess the best and cheapest solution if you have purchased the PP2 is to seal the airbox. But maybe it will not look very pleasant with some homemade cover.

engineered
engineeredlink
Wednesday, November 01, 2017 8:54 PM
Great article and analysis!
Hap
Haplink
Friday, November 03, 2017 2:34 PM
So I'm just doing HPDE type things, they don't even time yours laps, it just intended for having fun with your car. I really don't like the thought of the added wear that turning 8K rpm is going to cause and for all but 1 track that I run torque is really more useful than HP for most of the lap. For my case, I think that PP2 is going to be the best bang for the buck and minimize engine wear from turning super high revs. I can buy a lot of brakes and tires for what an engine rebuild is going to cost! Makes sense to me anyway. Great article though, and might have just saved me spending $2K needlessly. Ford Racing will probably get it anyway though with some other thing I just have to have.
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Monday, November 06, 2017 10:00 AM
@Hap - remember that HP is just a function of Torque and RPM.

Look at the thrust curves and chart to determine if the PP2 or PP3 would be better for your track given the cornering speeds.

I think your concern for engine rebuilds is a bit over exaggerated. There are many cars that are being tracked with the PP3 without issues. If you aren't going to take PP3 to it's 7,500rpm redline, then hands down PP2 will give you better performance.
Bob_S550GT
Bob_S550GTlink
Monday, January 01, 2018 8:02 AM
I am considering the PP2, but have concerns about water getting the filter element wet when driving in the rain or washing the car. Has anyone tested for this issue. I have found some reports of water problems for the 2015 and up Mustangs for people with CAIs. I am leaning toward PP1 for this reason since I daily drive my 2016 GT.

Did the dyno test for the PP2 results occur with the hood open or closed. If the hood was open, is it possible that more air was ingested into the PP2 intake than if the hood was closed, thereby making the power gains higher than they would have been with the hood closed?

Thanks very much for this great article.

-Bob

BillyJ
BillyJlink
Monday, January 01, 2018 8:43 AM
@Bob_S550GT - I wouldn't be concerned. PP2 uses the same intake and filter arrangement as the GT350, which passes all OEM tests for driving in heavy rain. If you have an aftermarket vented hood with the filter element exposed (like the Mustang GT4 race car) then I would have concerns with an open element filter.

PP2 & PP3 were dynoed with the hood open. It is possible that more air is ingested with the hood open but then again, without a proper wind-tunnel dyno, the ram-air effect of either air filter/box setup isn't properly representative of the power the car makes when it's actually on the road.
Bob_S550GT
Bob_S550GTlink
Monday, January 01, 2018 10:59 AM
Thanks BillyJ. The GT350 hood does not have a vent directly above the CAI unlike the 2016 Mustangs. The GT350 hood has the opening in the center of the hood. I don't think the OEM testing for water ingestion has been done with this combination of the 2016 Mustang vented hood (above the turn signals) and the GT350 CAI. Unless Ford Performance tested for this water issue. Perhaps they did.
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Monday, January 01, 2018 1:27 PM
@Bob_S550GT - the stock GT vents are tiny. Very little water can get in them. PP2 & PP3 hold to the same standards as OEM and maintain the factory warranty. It's not a concern.
Bob_S550GT
Bob_S550GTlink
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 3:06 PM
Just wanted to relay some information from Ford Performance Parts Techline that I was told. They said to purchase a shield from a Mustang parts vendor to prevent water from coming down through the vent and wetting the GT350 filter on PP2 or PP3. The techs get calls on this issue occasionally. After some research, I found a company named Outerwears that sells water-resistant pre filters that do a good job of keeping water off the open filters. Many of the popular mustang parts vendors offer them. Here is a youtube video that shows one installed and discusses it. I hope this information helps some others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_9x6KbBUtQ
JC75
JC75link
Sunday, January 14, 2018 10:22 PM
Billy…fantastic analysis! I’ve been waiting a while for someone to detail these packs for some time. I’ve owned a ’17 GT perf pkg, 6spd, w/373 gears for about 6 months now. A week after buying it, I installed a Borla, S-type catback system after hearing the weak stock exhaust…sooo much better! Then about 3 months ago I pulled the trigger on the Ford Performance Power Pack 2. The change to the car is like night and day…it pulls SO MUCH harder than stock! Car will easily start going sideways anytime past 4k rpm in 3rd gear with too much throttle.
The issue that I have with the PP2 is that, under hard acceleration, when I shift gears without using the NLS, the engine abruptly cuts throttle and the car stutters upon entering the next gear. It's so abrupt that that the car behaves like I missed or went into the wrong gear when it happens. When I HAVE used it, it seems to work great. I understand that it’s likely the No Lift Shift cutting the spark, but I would rather not use it most of the time. I’ve taken it back to the dealership that installed it and they tell me that they don’t see anything out of the ordinary and since there are no codes, then it must be fine. I even called the Ford Performance tech line and was told that if it was installed by the dealer then they should be able to help diagnose the issue. So, I have two questions: Is it supposed to hesitate and abruptly cut throttle that harshly upon entering the next gear at full throttle? If so, Is there any way to disable the No Lift Shift feature?
I wish that Ford would offer more information on how to use the NLS so I can determine what is normal, and ensure that it won’t destroy the clutch (at least more than doing it without it).
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Monday, January 15, 2018 7:43 AM
@JC75 - Thanks!

It shouldn't 'easily' go sideways above 4K in 3rd. What tires are you running? Maybe check out the article I wrote on the Continental ExtremeContact SPORT.

What you're feeling is the NLS when shifting normally. It does not deactivate and there is not an option to get a different calibration without it. I'm currently working with Ford on a fix so NLS will deactivate when shifting normally, but will still work when shifting at full throttle.

Once it's tested and proven, you will be able to download the new program off of your computer with your Ford tuner, and upload it yourself without going to the dealership. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, to not make the engine cut abruptly on shifts, release the clutch faster (pop off the clutch), or during a shift, don't go back to full throttle, go quickly back to 1/3 or 1/2 throttle for a tenth of a second, and then go full throttle. You wont lose much time in the shift and you wont have the cut.

Billy
JC75
JC75link
Monday, January 15, 2018 10:14 AM
I still have the stock Pirelli tires w/275s in the rear. Only have about 7K on the odometer and already almost down to the tread wear indicator. Gonna have to get a second job to continually pay for tires if they wear this quickly! I read the Continental ExtremeContact SPORT analysis and they are $70 less expensive than Michelin Pilot Sports at TireRack. Can the stock rear wheels be fitted with wider tires, or is it even advisable?

Just like you stated, I've had to learn to limit the throttle in the next gear to avoid the engine stuttering. I look forward to the new programming once it's available. In the meantime, do you know of any resources that will provide more information on if/how the NLS works and affects clutch life? For example, I didn't know that it only actives above 5K rpm and also read somewhere that some NLS can sense pressure on the shift knob, but I don't know how this would be possible. Thanks again.

Jacob
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Monday, January 15, 2018 2:42 PM
@JC75 - The Pirellis work pretty good when new (and hot) but in general, there are a lot of better options out there. My ExtremeContact Sports have 10K on them and are holding up much better wear wise. As far as sizing goes, 275 in any of the above is a decent width for the stock wheel. For more on tire sizing, read this:

http://www.motoiq.com/MagazineArticles/ID/3974/How-to-PROPERLY-select-and-size-TIRES-for-PERFORMANCE.aspx

Here's the best resource for NLS. Yes it activates at full throttle above ~5K rpm. There is no connection or sensor on the shifter, so that is false. NLS has zero effect on clutch life since you are still working the clutch with your left foot.

For smoother shifts, you need to release the clutch and get your foot completely off the pedal quickly so NLS does not hold back the RPM. Or, Shift normally and then go back to 33-50% throttle for a tenth of a second before then going quickly to full throttle to avoid the cuts.

Billy
Meatball17
Meatball17link
Monday, January 15, 2018 7:24 PM
Great article, Billy. It's great to have a resource like this that's quantitative and gives so much attention to the details. Keep it up!

I have a '17 base GT with a manual, and am thinking of getting one of these. I'm no racer but these look like fun, even if I only rev it out once in a while (well, once a day) up an onramp. I need this car to last, however. What impact do you think PP2 or PP3 would have on reliability versus stock? Is the more aggressive spark advance tough on the engine? Obviously, I'll only use 91 octane (I live in California). Also, with PP3 is the engine properly set up for going above 7000 rpm? I know the '18 redlines at 7500 stock but I don't know if it has improvements over the 15-17 to allow that. I'm sure it's okay or they wouldn't release PP3 with a warranty, but again I'm thinking of not causing bad problems down the road.

Thanks
Vatechtigger
Vatechtiggerlink
Monday, January 22, 2018 12:48 PM
Any insight you can share on how the calibration/shift pattern/line pressure impacts the drive between sport and normal drive modes? I love my 2015 mustang GT convertible (automatic), and typically drive in sport mode. But for relaxed cruising I do like the normal mode for its smooth none aggressive shift patterns. I have read some conflicting info such as PP2 basically eliminates the difference in normal vs port mode in how the car shifts. Would be nice to retain a tame normal and be able to access the aggression in sport...
JC75
JC75link
Monday, January 22, 2018 12:59 PM
@vatechtigger

When I decided to get the PP2 I came across this you tube clip that helped me see the difference. He demos it in an automatic and talks about the difference in drive modes.
https://youtu.be/qNFFt4hDBqI

Hope it helps
GJE
GJElink
Thursday, March 15, 2018 6:05 PM
Any update on NLS issues. I'm not sure from reading what the problem is. I'm holding off on a PP1. I am interested in the lower rpm 3000-5000 rpm torque on coming out of turns. I do very little WOT power shifting. If NLS creates drivability issues then I'll have too pass.
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