Driven: Ford Mustang EcoBoost – the thinking man’s ‘Stang

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Mustang_EcoBoost_019Expectations. When one lays eyes on a Mustang, they tend to be fairly specific. Before even pushing the starter, images of smoky burnouts to the backing vocals of a thunderous V8 play in the mind. But this is a garden variety EcoBoost Mustang, if ever there was a variant to use this term on. 

With half the cylinders of the Coyote V8 of the Mustang GT and less than half the cubic capacity at 2.3-litres, having lofty expectations is a sure precursor to disappointment. Mostly, we must stress, in the aural department. The restrictive snail downstream of combustion chokes off the song, and even then, what is the song of a modern-day four-cylinder?

Mustang_EcoBoost_032The important numbers, however, are not halved. This EcoBoost ‘Stang churns out about 312 hp and 434 Nm at 5,500 rpm and 3,000 rpm respectively, almost exactly 100 horses and 100 Nm fewer than the Mustang GT’s figures which come into play at higher revs — 6,500 rpm and 4,250 rpm. So there’s less power and torque for sure, but all of it is available earlier. Which is slightly more useful, and it happens to the tune of synthesised engine noise coming through the speakers. Don’t roll your eyes, everyone does it. 

Just be glad we were spared the old Cyclone V6 — found in some form in the previous generation Mazda CX-9. A more traditional crowd might have been keen on its 3.7-litres and higher cylinder count, but the numbers on it are frankly underwhelming for a modern day pony car. The stable only has 300 horses and torque is rated at about 380 Nm. Bringing in just the EcoBoost and the GT was wisdom on the part of Sime Darby Auto Connexion, and we would realise why not long into our few hours of wheeltime. 

Mustang_EcoBoost_033Mustang_EcoBoost_034Some quick notes on the interior, on the infotainment front — and you will be listening to tunes, because the melody which you seek won’t come from under the bonnet — Ford has equipped both Mustangs with the eight-inch SYNC 2 system. User friendly as is widely known, and channelled through a nine-speaker setup. 

Won, CK and I drove around for a while, getting familiar with the car and messing about with the various drive/steering modes. The steering modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) seem to affect mainly the effort required to turn the wheel. Sport in particular gives off a little more feedback, at least to these hands. As for the drive modes (Wet/Snow, Normal, Sport+, and Track), these don’t affect the dampers but sharpen throttle response, bump up shift RPMs and gradually reduce electronic nannying of traction is you go from one to the next.

Mustang_EcoBoost_008After a while, we decided maybe a dose of perspective might open our eyes to the appeal of the Mustang Ecoboost. So we parked up on Jalan Riong, right outside APW, and started harassing people for their opinions. Harass might be an overstatement, because people were all too happy to check out the pretty blue ‘Stang and its stealthy Ebony Black five-spoke wheels. 

Mustang_EcoBoost_004 Mustang_EcoBoost_007In the video below, you will see what the average Malaysian thinks of the four-pot Mustang. There are a couple of petrolheads in there at most, and there was not a single person who came away with their day having been worsened by a few minutes of poking, prodding and revving. Smiles all around, from the brutish attractiveness of the muscular exterior — in this very fetching shade of blue — to the cockpit-esque, er, cockpit and finally the engine note. We can’t help but wonder what would happen to these people if we brought them the V8 and let them rev that. I predict swooning, sighing and gasps of pleasure.

Choice quotes from the day include:

“It’s very sharp”

“It’s my favourite colour”

“I hope theres cute guys around”. Quite, because hey girl, they will envy you.

“It’s sleek but there’s no doubting that gaping grille in the front. It’s really in your face.”

“It’s actually really civilised”

“Its pretty genius the way the EcoBoost in the Fiesta balances itself through design” — not the right car, but this guy knows his Ford engines. 

Calling upon a deity with an “Oh my god” and simply

“Wow”

Some humorous highlights were a pair of girls who were quite reluctant to leave the cabin, and one dude who asked me to explain what EcoBoost was but lost interest halfway because he was so caught up, gripping the wheel sensually and revving it up.

Perhaps the ones who were wrong were us, fixated so much on the fact that this Mustang didn’t sound the way we wanted that we completely lost sight of what it had to offer. Inside and out, not just under the bonnet.

It might also do us some good to be grateful that its even here at all, with the steering wheel on the correct side. When MFW gets it grubby hands on the V8, we will appreciate it more — very likely in a cloud of tire smoke — but with a special respect for the EcoBoost. There is definitely enough grunt here for the urban owner, with with typical impressive EcoBoost-y fuel consumption figures. We imagine this must be worlds apart from the thirst of the V8.

Mustang_EcoBoost_035Because, quite simply, it gave us clarity. Using the right perspective, of course. A Mustang evokes emotions either based on how it looks or how it drives. Sometimes both. The EcoBoost Mustang is for the aesthetic admirer with little to no regard for a V8 and it’s frivolity. A man or woman who has no need for line-lock and foolish decimation of their rear tires just to perform a smoky burnout. 

This is a person who will look back at their car after every drive and bask in the appreciation of those who strain their necks staring as they drive by. This is the show Mustang, not the go Mustang. And it’s perfectly alright to want one. 

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