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Road Test: 2015 Mustang EcoBoost

by Patrick Morgan
Road Test: 2015 Mustang EcoBoostzoom in

    Specs at a Glance

  • Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 310
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 320
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual (6-speed automatic available)
  • Drive Configuration: RWD
  • 0-to-60 Time (secs): ~5.3
  • Top Speed (mph): 149
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 21/32/25
  • Curb Weight (lb): 3532
  • Wheelbase (in): 107.1
  • Total Length (in): 188.3
  • Width (in): 75.4
  • Base Price (USD): $29,300
  • Price as Tested (USD): $38,585

The 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost has a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged motor making 310 horsepower, and 320 lb-ft. of torque. That power is sent to the back axle via a 6 speed manual transmission where it is presented to a limited slip differential with a very spritely 3.55 final drive ratio. Not bad. It has enormous 4 piston front calipers and unique stability control settings which keep track of the grip provided by the Pirelli P-zero summer tires. They measure 255/40/19 on all four corners, by the way.

You can also feel the chassis tuning through the upgraded springs, shocks and rear sway bar. Impressive already. Slip inside, into the very comfortable leather Recaro bucket seats, and you’re presented with an additional gauge pack which lets you know of oil pressure and boost levels – something that you wouldn’t normally see on lesser models. Sounds very promising.

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A week before this, I’d had the Kia Optima SX Turbo for review, and was impressed right up till the point that I pushed it to its limits. That exposed a lot of flaws in that car. However, the Mustang was purely the opposite. From the first few feet of driving you can feel the stiff suspension, though you’ll have to wait a bit for the juices in the engine to warm up before it feels comfortable being pushed.

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You’re given a group of gauges in the center of the instrument cluster to monitor all sorts of nerdy things, such ac cylinder head temperature, but more importantly the temperature of your oil. After you’ve used the push-button start, you’ll see some toggle switches that flank that button’s right side. In here, you can turn traction control off, you can also turn it all the way off, and even select from three different drive modes including Eco, Sport and Track. I picked ‘track’ mode for most of my time. Shocking.

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“…select from three different drive modes including Eco, Sport and Track. I picked ‘track’ mode for most of my time. Shocking.”

Once warmed up, the EcoBoost motor is a wonderful piece. Down low you get a decent amount of torque, and a thumpy albeit one of those fake engine noises that car companies are crazy about these days. I’m indifferent to it. Rev higher though, and the 2.3 liter motor fills its lungs and pulls hard right up to the 7,000 RPM redline. Surprisingly there’s not a single point at which you feel the power falling flat on its face. I’d tell you about its fuel consumption, but I’m not exactly sure as I was having too much fun watching the dot on the little G-force meter dance around trying to break 1G in the turns. It didn’t, but 0.92g was close enough. Tossing corners at the car was not much of a task for it to handle. The limited-slip differential made turning and grip and everything related to directional changes annoyingly easy to accomplish. It just shrugged off any turn you threw at it, while remaining completely flat.

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“I’d tell you about its fuel consumption, but I’m not exactly sure as I was having too much fun watching the dot on the little G-force meter dance around trying to break 1G in the turns.”

The approach to those corners does involve some braking though, and those 4-piston stoppers were simply unbelievable. The re-worked ABS module included in the Mustang’s performance package means you can get right up to threshold braking without the car assuming you wanted to do a panic-stop. They let you go very deep into a corner without worrying about making friends with the corn field on the other side of the turn. All the while the differential simply means you can stomp on it, time it with just a small amount of turbo lag, and blast off to your next apex intersection.

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When you’re not using the equipment to it’s full potential, you actually will find the interior to be a pleasant place to be. The leather Recaro seats keep you from moving about when you’re sawing at the wheel, but they are also quite comfortable and supportive, if lacking little finite adjustments. The twelve speaker audio system by Shaker has been the only radio so far that my iPad has completely cooperated with, and when you don’t have the fake engine noise bustling through the cabin, those speakers produce other noises quite well indeed.

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“It ticks all the right boxes for enthusiasts, so why is it scoffed at simply because it is draped in the Mustang’s skin?”

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It ticks all the right boxes for enthusiasts, so why is it scoffed at simply because it is draped in the Mustang’s skin? Perhaps because you’re left wondering how much cooler it would be if it had the dreamy 5.0 motor? I feel that doesn’t lessen the EcoBoost Mustang as a good player in the sports car market. After all, a turbocharged 4-cylinder Mustang is not exactly a new thing. If you’ve never used a flip phone, then the Mustang SVO is not a vivid memory, but that was Mustang’s first crack at building a more serious version of the standard car. The EcoBoost might share the SVO’s un-loved status, but it isn’t the top of the range model any more. That said, the EcoBoost certainly isn’t one to ignore. It’s damn good, just not the best you can get. Kind of like going on a date with a girl that has a bit of an annoying laugh, but you still would anyway.

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“…you’d match the price, but would you match the pace? That’s something for me to find out on track.”

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So who would buy this car? Would Steve McQueen drive one? I’m not exactly sure, but it deserves plenty of attention. At an as-tested price of $38,585, there’s a lot of options that can put up a proper fight though. A fellow auto journalist is convinced the Golf R would emaciate it on track, but he’s from California and once struggled to discern a C4 from a C5 ‘vette. He’s got a good point, and perhaps if you got the GT stripped down a bit you’d match the price, but would you match the pace? That’s something for me to find out on track.

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