The eye-pulling visual appeal of the 2019 Ford Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost Convertible is equally matched with power and performance appeal. By Des Langkilde.
When we last reviewed the Mustang back in 2015 (see Mustang GT 5.0L V8 review), we mentioned the iconic engine grunt sound that has been the hallmark of Mustang since its inception in ’64. While the sixth-generation Mustang series has lost its appealing growl sounds, the new 2.3 L Turbocharged I4 engine still manages to output 414Nm of torque to deliver 213kw of power at 5400rpm and a top speed of 223km/h (governor limited). Compared to the older 5.0L V8 engine at 303kw, that’s a difference of only 90kw – not bad for a 4 cylinder engine!
Of course, Ford has upped the ante with the new 5.0 GT Series engine at 331kW@7000rpm, and even more with the 5.0 V8 Bullit engine at 338kW@7250rpm. But that’s another story (if I manage to get hold of either of these to review).
On the EcoBoost side, the 2.3L engine provides extremely efficient combustion, making it possible to reduce the amount of fuel required in any driving cycle. Ford claims combined fuel consumption figures at 10ℓ per 100km. But Mustang drivers want flexibility and performance too, which is where the DOHC turbocharger puts the boost into the EcoBoost engine.
And that’s where the fun of driving the 2.3 Mustang comes into play. The 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission comes with selectable driving modes; Normal for everyday day relaxed driving, MyMode for customizing your own driving style, Sport+ for turbocharged showoff, and Track and Drag mode if you really want to show off.
In Drag Strip mode, the engine torque doesn’t drop when you’re shifting, so you get peak engine torque and horsepower straight through. Remember, though, that the engine will stay in the selected mode until you shift out of it, so fuel consumption will skyrocket. Then, for even more fun, there are paddle shifters positioned within finger-grasp distance of the steering wheel, so you can override the auto gear selection.
If you’ve never owned a sports car before, the 2.3 Ecoboost Mustang is a safe place to start. It’s fast enough, it’s well-built, holds the (Chapman’s Peak Drive) bends well with its Electronic Stability Programme / Traction control, and it’s relatively well priced. It’s not going to replace the V8, but then, it doesn’t need to. It’s for a new breed of sports car enthusiasts in a world with increasingly stringent CO2 emissions and fuel economy regulations.
Not that it needs it, but for more avid Mustang enthusiasts, the performance can probably be improved with some simple modifications. Aftermarket companies are regularly making 20-50 more horsepower over Ford’s stock numbers. Take the 945kW (1 267HP) / 1,100Nm Ford Mustang 5.4-litre V8 that RGMotorsport converted by way of example.
The brief from the owner was – at face value – straightforward: build a street-legal car that can get into the nine-second bracket over a quarter-mile and if necessary be driven home afterwards. That’s quite an ask – but one which the RGMotorsport team rose to with their usual enthusiasm.
Starting from the bottom and working upwards, the engine room crew opted for a Boundary Racing oil pump, stroker crankshaft with an ATI damper pulley on the end of it, Eagle con rods, Cometic head gaskets, PAC valve springs, Ferrea valves and Comp Cams camshafts. ARP fasteners used throughout and the re-sleeved block is topped by gas-flowed heads and finished off with custom valve covers.
Perched above it all is a Whipple positive displacement blower with Stage 3 Competition Kit, driven from the crankshaft by a heavy-duty 10-ribbed belt. The blower itself is rated at 2,9 litres (which means for each revolution it can cram just under 3000cc into the engine), forcing compressed air through an integrated intercooler. Maximum boost is set at 1.25 Bar, which along with a static compression ratio of 9.8:1, means that there are eight rather large explosions for every two crankshaft revolutions.
In terms of power, the numbers gleaned from the RGM dyno were achieved with a 7 500 revs/min limit imposed until the engine is run in, after which 8 200 revs/min will be at the driver’s disposal. Phase Two will see nitrous oxide injection activated!
OK, this is taking it a bit far but goes to show just how passionate Mustang drivers are. Last year, Performance Centre, the SAAF Museum and Friends of the SAAF collaborated in a project to advance the restoration of a Spitfire aircraft (DBH #5518). The project aimed to raise R750 000 to rebuild the last remaining South African Air Force Spitfire in South Africa in conjunction with the roll-out of the limited-edition Mustang vehicles. These vehicles were to be serialised and built to resemble one of the aircraft flown by one of the South African Aces from the various Wars.
Performance Centre acquired 10 licenses to convert standard 5.0L Mustangs into RTR Spec 5 widebodies. These one-of-a-kind, hand painted, aeroplane replica, V8 supercharged vehicles are registered on the RTR Registry in the USA.