2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Review

Does a Four Banger Belong?

Last year to the shock and dismay of many, it was announced that the Ford Mustang would once again be available with a four-cylinder engine.

How could Ford possibly do this to America’s Pony car? Well, it happened and after my first drive in the car, I came away impressed. But that was just a 20-minute drive during the press introduction in Los Angeles. What would I think of a four-cylinder turbocharged Mustang after living with it for a week in the dead of winter?

Let’s start with the facts. Making 310 HP and 320 lb-ft. of torque, the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces more power than the 2009 Ford Mustang GT V8. That’s also 40 lb-ft. more torque than the current 3.7-liter V6. Oh, and it can deliver all that power on regular gasoline at 22 MPG in the city and 31 MPG highway when equipped with the proper transmission: the six-speed manual.

What V6 Mustang?

The more I drive the EcoBoost, the more I wonder why that V6 even exists anymore. The EcoBoost behaves a lot like a Subaru turbo. There isn’t a ton of power down low, but mid-range and high RPM power is great once the boost builds. The car feels faster than the numbers suggest. Sixth gear passing on the highway is no problem as the turbocharged torque easily accelerates even in high gear.

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SEE ALSO: 2015 Ford Mustang Review

Anyone who is sad about the demise of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0 turbo should take an EcoBoost Mustang out for a drive as it will quickly make them forget all about that Hyundai. Part of that has to do with the way this particular car is equipped. It’s a bit of an enthusiast special as the only options added are the performance package, Recaro seats, reverse park assist and the security package.

Best Performance Under $30,000?

MustangEngine2 MustangExterior8MustangExterior5

This all totals just $30,500 after destination charges. That puts the EcoBoost Mustang right in the heart of the affordable sports car market. And if we remove the park assist, this car would have qualified it for our under $30,000 sports car shootout we did this summer. I’m confident this car would have set the fastest lap time during that comparison and given the WRX a serious run for the overall title.

The reason for my bold claim has to the performance package. Having a ton of power is one thing, but if the rest of the car doesn’t match its performance, it’s wasted. The package includes a quicker accelerating, higher final gear ratio, upgraded brakes including four-piston front calipers and summer 255/40R19 performance tires.

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Yes, You Can Winter Drive a Mustang

MustangExterior9But I’m testing in the dead of winter and the summer tires have been swapped out for Pirelli winter rubber. Being high performance cold weather tires opposed to actual snow tires, the Pirelli’s aren’t the best in deeper snow. But on ice and frozen pavement, they perform well with lots of grip and reassurance.

Don’t think a mere set of winter tires will tame this wild stallion though. The 2015 Mustang’s chassis is clearly set-up to hustle around corners quickly. Earlier I mentioned that the EcoBoost makes more power than a 2009 Mustang GT. Even with a nearly 200 lbs. weight increase, the 3,532 lbs. EcoBoost with the performance package will also run circles around that old V8 ‘Stang.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Mustang: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

MustangExterior4But this comes with a caveat. The new independent rear-end suspension is dialed in a bit loose to help rotate the 2015 Mustang through apexes. During optimal warm weather, grip and handling prowess are downright excellent. If road surfaces are slippery though, the Mustang will hang its tail out, sometimes unexpectedly. The standard rear-limited slip differential does help control these slides, but make no mistake; four-cylinder or not, there’s more than enough power here for burnouts and tire-smoking drifts. In the winter, snowy donuts are fun, easy and irresistible.

But the engine noise is still an issue. I can’t trick my brain into going along with the fake sounds, no matter how good they sound. Ford should have opened up the exhaust a bit, especially when selecting the performance package and left the simulated sounds out of the equation.

Spartan in the Name of Performance

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Inside, my Mustang test car is pretty barren, as most options have not been selected in the name of affordable performance. Everything is easy to use and even in base form; the new Mustang’s interior is quite stylish compared to a lot of affordable sports cars. Rear seat space is useless for most people over the age of twelve, but the trunk does offer a decent 13.5 cubic feet of storage space.

There are a few highlights inside worth noting, I do have the adjustable steering that allows the driver to cycle through three levels of feedback and force. As well, I love the feel of the optional Recaro seats as they fit my body type perfectly.

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The Verdict

If you still don’t think a four-cylinder engine belongs in a Ford Mustang, get over it. The engine is here and equipped the right way, turns the Mustang into a fantastic performance bargain. Priced in line with other compact sports cars, it feels just as responsive and powerful as anything else around the $30,000 price point, while offering classic pony car style.

  • Jeff T

    I really like that Ford let you have the setup without all the thrills. At the auto shows they are few brands that bring the low end trim packages. Way to hate on my 2.0T genesis!

  • twobitcoder

    Don’t mean to be ‘that annoying guy’ but the power figures always reflect the best gasoline available, not 87-octane. You do not make 310 hp with 87, as the tune has to choke on that crap to get it through and burn correctly. Why is it even a factor? Anyone interested in a performance car, even on a budget, is not going to put that in their car.

    Secondly, the 2010 GT was the end of the line for the 4.6L (not 2009), making 315 hp/325 lb-ft, a little more than the 4L-T. It’s a valid comparison but compare the latest with the latest across two model runs. Don’t manipulate with figures and dates, just tell it how it is.

    I’ve heard rumors that the 4L-T is highly responsive to tuning. I hardly believe the stories of +100 lb-ft but that’s the claim, with no hardware added.

  • craigcole

    I LOVE me some V8 and Ford’s 5.0-liter Coyote is an absolute gem but dollars to doughnuts I’d get an EcoBoost Mustang. Despite having half as many cylinders and less than 50 percent the displacement this car’s performance is still really good. When you factor in savings for insurance and fuel-economy it becomes even more appealing.

  • Kerem

    I test drıve this car…AND WHAT A WASTE OF TIME THAT WAS…. Ecoboost needs to boost in earlier for this car to be fun to drive… Its like a 110hp engşne when the turbo is not kicked in. And when it does its too little too late… I was hoping this car to be fun and exciting to drive but it was not… But the interior looks great, and I will have to get the V8 for fun

  • zman

    Sorry but I couldn’t tell the 4 cylinder turbo from the 14 V6 which was underpowered. I traded up for the 15 GT 5.0 which is a monster with 400+ hp & tq. Disappointed that the performance package wasn’t available with an automatic but driving the 6 speed in bumper to bumper traffic got old fast. Super fun at 37k for the GT premium is worth the extra $$$

  • danwat1234

    Maybe some years down the road, the Mustang will have a performance hybrid option so an electric motor can provide some HP to virtually eliminate turbo lag

  • danwat1234

    “the package includes a quicker accelerating, higher final gear ratio” — That’s too bad as it hurts fuel economy on the highway. Why not add a 7th gear then to restore the lower gear ratio on the final gear for road trips?

  • Lennie Pike

    This makes me wonder, the next gen Camaro is an offshoot of the ATS/CTS. Both are equipped with a 4 AND AWD capable. Hope they connect the dots and go that way too with the Camaro.

  • Kerem

    Or they can tweek the software they have now…

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    Many have taken the V6 and twin TT that engine for more power and the numbers they are laying down beat the Coyote.

  • Kaahk

    Yes its a weird situation with having a 4 banger with more hp ‘at full boost’ than their 6 cyl. makes… you have to wonder why and what they are planning on doing. Maybe they will add a turbo to the v6 and get rid the V8 at some point…

  • Kaahk

    Ya its a confusing situation that they have created.

  • LabRat0116

    “Yes, You Can Winter Drive a Mustang”…. you say!
    I bought 2012 Mustang a couple years ago here in Ohio.

    The deal ALMOST never happened and was almost ruined in the Finance Manager’s office as we we’re in the middle of signing all the papers. The Finance Manager mentioned he had Mustangs to and said….. “Too bad we can’t drive them in the winter weather!”

    My wife looked over at me in horror and said…… “What ??? What do you mean we can’t drive this car in the winter ???”

    I was like (thinking about what the Mgr had just said)……. “Good move butt head ! Now my wife is all pissed off at me thinking this car can’t be drive AT ALL in the winter” !

    My wife hated that car. It did fine in the winter roads as long as the snow wasn’t over 4″.

  • LabRat0116

    Slap a Programmer on the V6 and you won’t say it’s under-powered at all !

    The V6 (with Programmer) is a great alternative to those that don’t have an “extra” $10,000 to spend on a GT !

  • zman

    Thanks for the tip but I already made the trade to the GT. Hopefully someone else can save the money. In the flats the V6 six speed was fine but I drove cross country and had problems with the power holding the cruise control up to speed and it was underpowered in windy mountain roads. I had to downshift more than once coming into uphill corners to pull through due to lack of torque. All and all the V6 is a nice car for what it’s purpose is. When I made it to Virginia the 5.0 did not meet Washington state emissions so I drove the turbo 4 as a possibility. I immediately knew that I loved the new independent rear suspension but power wise could not tell any difference from the v6. I could barely hear the turbo spool up (but I am a little hard of hearing) and agree that the boost is a little late and really offers no real torque advantage for the extra cash. I was however sold on the redesigned 2015. It’s a beautiful car, nicer interior

  • zman

    But if you can’t afford the GT the V6 is the better bang for the buck as I wasn’t impressed with the ecoboost 4. I understand that the gt super car is coming with a turbo or twin turbo 6 which is should be a beast and a great fit for the mustang. That may be the package to get my old school but away from the V8’s!

  • Mark S

    I like the idea of less weight that the GT, plus the weight reduction helps the weight distribution but I was looking in this report to see if the car handling and especially feel through the wheel made this a car to consider instead of the BRZ and Miata (the <30k RWD competition of note. I know this Stang is way better than the last Stang, but if you ignore power and think of driving through the canyon should some one consider a BRZ cross shop a 4 cylinder Stang?

  • LabRat0116

    Did your 6 have a Programmer ?? They really do make a HUGE difference all over the power band.

    I also was able to obtain 37 MPGs Highway. No joke. My daily commute of 60 miles is mainly flat highway. My 6 gave 30+ MPGs on a very consistant basis. 37 MPGs when I drove like an old lady.

    Very good point though about the 6’s response in hilly terrain. I can see and understand how an UN-Programmed V6 very well could be under-powered in the off-idle RPMs when driving on grades. Can’t be a V8 for low end torque.

    That said, I know of a few naturally aspired V6 in the low/mid 11s. NO BS.

  • zman

    No at 47 I’m a turn key guy. Drove the v6 cross country and at 9500 the tranny was making weird noises so I just traded becaup. Had I known about tuners I may have given it a shot. Waiting for a twin turbo version of the 3.7 if it happens. For low end torque you can’t beat a v8. Head to head with the ecoboost I think the 3.7 is better value and with the boost lag in my opinion has better low end and is more fun, especially for the money. But my comparison is not the most accurate because I am comparing a 2014 live axle v6 to a 2015 ecoboost 4. What I can say is the 2015 5.0 with independent rear suspension is a beast right off the lot. Couldn’t even comprehend putting a tuner on that.

  • worldbfree4me

    What do you want from 2300 cc jeez! It’s a 4 cylinder boosted. Everyone knows that the 5.0 has more power because of it’s torque. The little Benz with the 2.0 with 350 hp performs the exact same way. The Eco is about savings and some performance period!!

  • John r Kane

    I dumped one inflicted on me in the 70s and wouldn’t take one today no matter how stressed power it has

  • com_sense_plzzz

    I’m surprised more manufacturers haven’t explored the possibility of adding CSV driven centrifugal blowers. Very similar in power delivery to a turbo but with the added benefit that the drive ratios can be varied and a constant PSI can be delivered, similar to the output of a twin screw blower. I guess it’s probably not as fuel efficient though when not in use as it still produces drag on the motor whereas the turbo is driven by exhaust.

  • nopeyup

    LOL, there’s no programmer that would make a V6 feel anything like the 5.0.

  • nopeyup

    “That said, I know of a few naturally aspired V6 in the low/mid 11s. NO BS.”

    And this is BS.

  • nopeyup

    If you’re trying to save money, I agree. If you trying to drive a real mustang, nope.

  • nopeyup

    I think this is a great addition to the line up. I also think no one should buy the V6, its pointless.

  • fastan

    Here is the fastest 2015 Ecoboost Mustang running some 11 second quarter mile times. Only has a larger turbo and JLT intake on the stock motor.

    https://www.facebook.com/bradnina.gusler/posts/1621032831451528?comment_id=1621244138097064&notif_t=share_reply

  • elle

    What’s this fake engine sound all about? Piped in exhaust noise to make it sound more substantial?

  • Mike Schlee

    It’s an audio layer played through the speakers.

  • TransMaroBird

    Ha! That goes for just about any ’70s American car…..you’re showing your foolish curmudgeonly attitude!

  • TransMaroBird

    Put winter tires on it and like any other car, it does fine in snow.

  • Calvin L Miller Jr

    So the question is does it sound bad or not?

  • Mark S

    An RWD F Type R with summer tires is as tail happy as can be…..not sure winter tires in winter will tame that one.

  • Mark S

    You mean a modified Ford Falcon? You don’t have to go back that far, this 2.3 turbo has output greater than some more recent GT’s as per the article. “There is no replacement for displacement” is constantly being proven wrong.

  • elle

    Seriously? Does it have selectable “sound like a V8”, “sound like a Prius”, “sound like a two-stroke” modes?
    Maybe they can even have it operable while the engine is off and key in accessory position, so your kids can play vroom-vroom while it’s set for “sound like an F1 car” mode.
    Stomp on the gas pedal and send the revs screaming fiercely skyward, all the while using nary a drop of gas 😉

  • Mark S

    Only get Vroom Vroom when you drive a Mazda.

  • rreptillian

    Doesn’t sound like anything at all if you listen to it by itself. It’s just a flat note which gives some tone to the exhaust’s bass.

  • David Gurney

    “he had Mustangs to”

    Mustangs to what?

  • David Gurney

    Still a bloated hog. Ford failed to deliver what we were hoping for: a LIGHT, NIMBLE Mustang. They’ve gone the opposite direction, and even messed up the weight distribution.

  • David Gurney

    You have to be kidding.

  • smartacus

    haha you fucking upvoted yourself like a drag queen

  • smartacus

    translated, it means you won’t be able to afford a used one for 20 years

  • Robert Hollar

    Yeah i test drove all the new 15 coupes and compaired handeling value warranty interior quality price point ect… The eco boost stang is much better balanced than its 5.0 counter part. But ford threw a big sway bar in the back i guess to make it handle like the old stang. The interior quality even though better is still short. After dringing everything from stangs, brz, porsche, bms, chevys, dodge, ect… I ended up with a Hyundai genesis coupe. Got a 2015 gen coupe ult in the garauge, i sugest anyone looking at this type of car to take one for a spin.

  • Mark S

    What trim and engine did u get with the Genesis How does the shift and clutch compare to the BRZ?

  • AND YOU ARE A BLOATED BULLSHIT HOG BECAUSE I AM BIASED WITH THE MUSTANG ECOBOOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Midwest Mustang

    Not really interested in a 4banger. Now if it were 200-300# lighter and had AWD for 30K, that would interest me! My current ’12 GT with 6-sp manual consistently gets me 22mpg around town, 28mpg on the road, boat loads of torque, and boy what a sound from that beautiful V-8. Ford keep your Turbo4 RWD, I have more fun for less money.

  • nopeyup

    It takes warranty voided mods for the ecoboost to come anywhere near the stock GT’s performance. Replace for displacement my ass.

  • Mark S

    911 Turbo, Hellcat Supercharger, Ford GT, turbocharger, etc, there are loads of replacements for displacement out there….P1, 918, LaFerrari, hybrids.