Is Ford taking aim at Porsche?
Ford is dropping the RS turbo-four into the Mustang
Even though it has 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder in the Ford Mustang isn’t exactly thrilling. Compared to the booming Coyote V-8, with its instant throttle response, smooth power delivery, and glorious sound, the Ford’s turbocharged four-pot feels somewhat out of place in a sports car. Fortunately, the Blue Oval has a much more suitable turbo-four on the shelf. Yes, the 2.3-liter screamer from the defunct Focus RS hot hatch is Mustang-bound, part of a new High Performance Package for the 2020.
About half of all Mustangs sold are EcoBoosts, and the car’s engineers knew they could improve the driving performance driving experience beyond the existing EcoBoost Performance Pack (which included revised suspension, wheels, tires, and upgraded Torsen rear end). According to Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann, the idea to drop the RS motor into the Mustang started about a year ago, during the final stages of the Mustang Bullitt project. Widmann and his team got a hold of chassis development test car and tossed in the RS engine, hoping to cook up something special to help celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Mustang this year.
The RS-sourced engine for the High Performance Package will make 330 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is 20 hp less than the Focus RS. The engine’s head and block are the same, but nearly everything else had to be modified to fit the Mustang’s rear-wheel-drive platform. Ford says the motor is much more willing to rev than the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, and that available torque is improved in both lower and upper parts of the rev range. Compared to the V-8-powered GT, the High Performance Pack EcoBoost is 200 pounds lighter, with 150 pounds coming off of the front end.
As a treat for your ears, the package will come with a standard active exhaust. We heard the new performance pony fire up and rev in neutral, and it has a nice raspy note as well as some excellent pops and crackles from the tailpipes. In case you forgot, the Enterprise-spec EcoBoost Mustang sounds like a tired hotel hair dryer.
“This engine loves to rev,” says Mustang vehicle engineering manager Tom Barnes. “It’s a riot.”
The High Performance Package will be available on coupe or convertible Mustangs, and can be paired with both the standard six-speed manual or the optional 10-speed automatic transmission. The package is essentially a stand-alone option that can be added on to any trim, which means you can have an RS-powered pony car with a cloth interior and analog gauges or a plush leather cabin and a fully digital instrument cluster, for example.
As with the outgoing EcoBoost Performance Pack, which the new High Performance Package replaces, chassis and handling improvements are a big part of the formula. Upgrades include unique 19-inch wheels, Pirelli P Zero summer tires, upgraded brakes from the Mustang GT, a strut tower brace under the hood, a 3.55 Torsen rear end, stiffer shock and damper tuning, an aerodynamic front splitter, and a rear spoiler. For automatic transmission-equipped cars, shift points are now 500–600 rpms higher.
As an available option, Ford will also offer a Handling Pack to go with the High Performance Package that adds wider wheels, Pirelli Corsa summer tires, stiffer suspension tuning, the sway bar from the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2, and—most importantly—MagneRide dampers. The Handling Package will be exclusive to the fastback Mustang.
You’ll be able to pick the High Performance Package Mustang out thanks to its unique grille, hood stripes, Magnetic gray painted mirrors, unique wheels, and chassis-numbered badging on the passenger-side dashboard.
The High Performance Package should be hitting dealers in early fall, and we’ll have more information on pricing later this spring.
With the RS going out of production as the current-gen Focus was ending its life cycle, the factory in Valencia, Spain, where the engine is built went dormant for about eight months before the tooling was modified to build the 2.3-liter RS engine. Coded 67E, the high-output 2.3 could, ostensibly, be used in other rear-wheel-drive applications. Ford says nothing has been decided yet and that the Mustang is it for now, but we could definitely see a 330-hp Ranger Raptor being a thing.