By: Yousef Alvi and Jonathan Wooley
My entire car-driving life, I’ve been import loyal. But I wasn’t an import fan just for the sake of ‘picking sides’ or being one of the cool alternative kids. I was import fan because they had a certain perspective to building cars… a perspective that made their cars exciting to drive, and just as vital… exciting to modify & stylize. Over the past couple decades, a lot of the American car manufacturers lacked that certain perspective.
But that has changed. We have to realize that – things DO change. So for me, or any of us, to continue to deny domestic brands just ‘because’ – is blind & ignorant. A true car guy is going to back whichever manufacturers are pushing boundaries, and building exciting cars. In addition – a true car guy is going to see past the smoke & mirrors, and realize that our peers (who ALSO grew up driving/modding imports) are now of the age where they are being promoted to positions at Ford… where they can really have some influence & make a difference. A true car guy will vote with his wallet, and support the passionate brands – not the generics. And let’s be honest, most of the ‘imports’ are made here anyway – or Mexico. So we have to break way from that blind loyalty. Here’s an honest review of the Ecoboost Mustang… from a tuner’s perspective.
When the Mustang was first delivered to me in all of its yellow glory, I was a little embarrassed to actually get behind the wheel & drive it in public – just because it was, you know, ‘the enemy’. But by the time they came to pick it up… I was wrestling with what we’re gonna call S3 now… because ‘import mag’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. And that’s the truth.
This is one hell of a car. It’s well thought out, and it was made to be modified. It’s kind of a big American finger to all the import brands who’ve been slackin’. Ford didn’t need to put a turbo-4 in the Mustang… Mustang sales are doing juuuust fine. They didn’t need to go to independent rear suspension. But I feel like they did it to take aim at tuners, call out the sleeping Japanese brands, & make a global statement. If you want a tell-tale way to spot a good car… look for the brands who are out to prove something… because you’re not gonna cut corners or compromise, when you have something to prove. Make sense?
Ford wants you to stop thinking about the Mustang as a muscle car… and start thinking of it as a true sports car. To that end, the available big-brake upgrade package is very impressive – damn near stretching your eyeballs out of their sockets. It’s something that you definitely need to ‘check’ on the options list. Consider it part of the base price.
The engine bay is sizable enough to house the Coyote V8. That means with the turbo-4 engine option, you have a lot of extra room in the bay – giving the engine AWESOME accessibility. It looks like you could pull the turbo straight off the motor, without having to touch anything else. The Ecoboost engine takes 300lbs off the nose of the car, and it sits at a weight-balanced location, closer to the firewall & further away from the nose/bumper. This car will not only be significant as road racing & track day choices, but also in the drifting segment. Sure – Ford has been hitting it hard in FD for years, but the nameplate has never really transferred that successfully to the underground drift scene. Expect to see that change, as in any form of motorsports… accessibility & ease of maintenance is key to seat time, which is key to improvement of skills. It’s kind of like the dude from Speedhunters said (paraphrasing) – this is the Silvia that Nissan failed to make.
Independent rear suspension means that the car handles much better than it has in years past. Combine that with the Ecoboost’s trimmed-down weight, and you’ve got a performer on your hands. Compared to an FRS/BRZ, you can feel that the Mustang is a heavier car, but it’s still solid, stable, and predictable. It might not be quite as nimble as an FRS, but the Ecoboost Mustang is impressive. Plus – it’s got a hell of a lot more juice than an FRS, and more amenities, and more room… and that’s a tradeoff that a lot of guys are going to be willing to make in real world application.
I’m not sure how they did it, but I honestly haven’t been around a car that I was genuinely this excited to modify in a long time. Go drive it and you’ll see what I mean.
Coilovers with stiffer spring rates is going to really transform the car – in both form & function. On the Mustang, you can see that long, flat hood from the driver’s seat. It’s actually a pretty badass American Pride feeling once you adapt to it. But at the same time, if you’re used to imports where you can’t see the hood, suddenly being able to see it can exaggerate the car’s movements. For example – mash the gas, and you see the hood go up. Mash the brakes, and you see it dive. It can have the tendency to make the car feel sloppy, when it really isn’t. A good set of coilovers will easily fix that, and make that hood feel more like your crosshairs, rather than an obstruction.
OEM intercooler piping is rubber & floppy. Upgrade to hard piping early on, and you’ll see an even more immediate boost punch.
From there, go with an intake, downpipe, exhaust with high-flow cat (or no cat), intercooler, and flash/tune… and it’ll be rowdy for sure. I’ve got a definite feeling that they’re really tuning this thing down from the factory, so it doesn’t steal the V8/GT glory.
In Race Mode, the Mustang has built in telemetry, giving you 0-60, 0-100, 100-0, and 60-0. It also has an accelerometer, giving you real time g-force. Ford wouldn’t put this in the car if they weren’t confident in its abilities. Furthermore, if it were a new Honda, it wouldn’t have a Race Mode at all, it would have a ‘Not in Eco’ mode. (I hope I have to eat those words now that the Type R is coming.)
The Mustang does not have a lip on the inside of the rear quarters… meaning it will be easy to go low & fit an aggressive wheel/tire setup, with minimal risk for damage. The shape/silhouette of the car is striking. You don’t have to ‘try’ to like it. It’s long, low, and ripped. The fenders/quarters bulge out of the car’s own accent line. And the quarter panels flare out AND up simultaneously, giving the car a muscular, Aston Martin-ish flex. It has to be quite an undertaking to design a car that is retro… but also a new-model replacement for a previous model that was also retro… all while earning global respect & appeal. But Ford pulled it off. Lighting output is clean, modern, and crisp. And our drift bros noticed that the tail lights are virtually grip handles – perfect for McFlying rides around town on a skateboard/hoverboard.
It’s crazy what wide-range appreciation a Mustang gets. I went into the grocery store for all of 2 minutes… and when I came out, there was a car show flyer stuffed under the wiper. Men & women of all ages and ethnicities were caught eyeing it at redlights. My postman wanted a ride (and he got one). I went through a police checkpoint one night. The cop asked for my license & in the exact same breath, said I had a SWEEEEET RIDE (I always keep the phone number for DVLA, just in case). Mustang Sally came on the satellite radio, and told me to slow my Mustang down. I didn’t listen.
Staring out at that yellow hood for a week, made me realize what an impact the Mustang has made on America, Americana, and the automotive culture. It made me realize – that sometimes the grass is pretty damn green on our side of the fence.