The Ford Mustang has always been about different versions for different people. When the original Mustang came out in 1964, it was advertised as a secretary’s car when equipped with the base six-cylinder engine. The high-performance V8 versions were supposed to build the image of the car while the majority of the buyers were buying the styling without the expensive mechanicals. Today, the same philosophy is still selling Mustangs. The 760-horsepower GT500 is setting the image while the entry level EcoBoost gets you the same styling at a fraction of the price. There is one big difference, though. The EcoBoost Mustang is actually a very capable sports car and we found that you may not even miss the V8 engine in daily driving.
The 2005 4.6 liter V8 Mustang GT made 300 horsepower. The current EcoBoost four-cylinder engine makes 310 horsepower. Many people insist that a Mustang has to have that V8 sound, but we have to disagree. After playing with the 2.3-liter direct injected, turbocharged four-cylinder, we had a blast. Our test car had the optional 10-speed automatic transmission and it was a perfect match for the engine. The car was quick and responsive, and the four-cylinder engine provided a different aural symphony. The bonus was the 32 mpg highway rating. There were very few times when we thought we needed more power.
The other bonus with a four-cylinder is having less weight on the front wheels. With a bit less weight on the front, the steering feels sharper and the car feels more athletic. Our test car also had the $4,995 performance package. This is a must-have option if you like to drive hard. It includes 3.55:1 rear end gears with limited slip, 19 x 9-inch aluminum wheels, active exhaust, a strut tower brace, oil pressure and boost gauges, front splitter, stiffer front springs, 13.9-inch front brake rotors and four-piston calipers, larger radiator, rear wing, special damper tuning, special stability and ABS tuning, and bigger rear anti-roll bar.
The entire package is a bargain, and if you want more, you can add the handling package, which adds summer performance tires, half inch wider wheels, MagnaRide dampers, and a Torsen limited-slip differential.
With the options, the Mustang is turned into a very capable pony car that reminds you more of a European sports car rather than a Mustang. It is eager to turn in and get sideways with a tap of the gas pedal. It is one of the few cars out there that actually makes you giggle. Unlike many of its more powerful stable mates, it feels more connected, and because you can feel more confident in pushing the car to its limit, it is more fun.
All of this stuff is great, but the best part of the EcoBoost Mustang is the price. Base price is just over $26,000, but add the performance package and you are looking at a very capable car for just over $31,000, which is a steal. Included at that price is the iconic Mustang styling.
You may have to deal with people asking you why you did not buy a V8, but Cayman buyers also get asked why they didn’t buy a 911. Tell them because it is more fun and they just don’t understand.
|Engine:||2.3-liter turbocharged, direct-injected inline four|
|Horsepower:||310 @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque:||350 pound-feet @ 3,000 rpm|
|Front Suspension:||Double ball-joint McPherson strut|
|Rear Suspension:||Independent with coil springs and stabilizer bar|
|Curb Weight:||4,089 lbs.|