First things first, the turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder in the new Ford Mustang is a good engine.
It produces a decent whallop of power (231kW) and plenty of torque (433Nm) which makes it feel like a performance engine. It is also good on fuel, using 9.4-litres per 100km on the combined city/highway cycle.
It is capable of moving the Mustang along at a rapid, sporty pace with relative ease.
But, from the seat of the pants, it doesn't feel like a Mustang engine and it certainly doesn't sound like one.
Over the last five years or so, the car industry has become addicted to - and forced by tighter regulations - downsize their motors. Small capacity turbocharged engines are all the rage these days for their ability to blend respectable performance with reduced fuel consumption.
Ford has taken the plunge with its new, built-for-the-world Mustang slotting the EcoBoost engine underneath the 5.0-litre V8 in the flagship GT.
On our test drive around Los Angeles and the canyon roads north of tinseltown we sampled the EcoBoost across the full spectrum of conditions.
At times it feels more than adequate for the task at hand. It is surprisingly flexible, with a good spread of pulling across the rev range when pushed hard, while around town it will quietly do the job.
But it lacks the sheer grunt, aural punch and the drama of the V8.
The V8 shoves you back in your seat the way the EcoBoost simply can't. The V8 sounds like a Mustang should sound while the EcoBoost produces a muted and flat note that is at odds with the striking looks of the new model.
Our test car was paired with the optional six-speed automatic transmission (six-speed manual is the standard 'box) which was also good but not great.
It shifts smoothly enough but is calibrated to slip into a taller gear as soon as possible to try and save fuel. So when you want to get moving it has to quickly drop a cog or two to get the engine in its sweet spot, which - combined with the turbo needing to build pressure - can mean a hesitation on acceleration.
Switching the selectable Drive Modes toggle from Normal to Sport mode makes the engine and transmission more willing to stay in a lower gear ready for action, but it still doesn't feel as sharp between changes as a dual-clutch transmission.
Our test car was also riding on the Mustang's standard suspension tune - rather than the Sport tune we drove in the GT - which amplified the differences in the driving experience between the two engines.
While the GT's Sport set-up helps the Mustang stay flat in the corners, the softer sprung 'stang has a tendency to lean in corners and the nose dives and rises more noticeably under acceleration and braking.
It also rides very differently; the softer settings making it more compliant at lower speeds but lacking composure at higher speed. Bigger dips and bumps at high speed can be unsettling for the Mustang, which means it doesn't feel as tied down and composed at the limit at the Sports-tuned GT.
Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to drive an EcoBoost fitted with the Sports suspension which could make a big difference to the way you view the EcoBoost model.
It will also be interesting to see how the Mustang rides on Australian roads because the suspension has been tuned in America, and will arrive in showrooms without any local fine-tuning.
Of course there is another major difference between the EcoBoost and GT - the price.
Ford Australia hasn't confirmed local pricing but it's believed the EcoBoost will start at approximately $50,000 while the GT is likely to begin around $65,000.
If there is such a big price difference between the two it could make the EcoBoost a tempting proposition for some.
It may be America's most iconic performance car but strangely the Ecoboost Mustang paired with the softer suspension actually makes it feel a bit like a Toyota 86 for grown ups. It may be the most advanced Mustang ever made but, at its core, it remains a simple proposition - a two-door, rear-wheel drive sports car.
For younger buyers, who don't have the connection to the Mustang and its US history, that will give it a unique appeal. Adding a turbocharged engine to the mix could be enough to tempt those looking to graduate from the popular sports coupe.
But for the Mustang fans who have waited 50 years for Ford to officially bring the pony car to Australia it would be hard to look past the V8-powered GT.
Downsizing has taught us that sometimes less is more. But the EcoBoost Mustang proves sometimes less is just less.
WAG363: AUII LTD Supercharged 363 Dart Stroker [Supercharged 363 LTD Build]
|Who is online|
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests