In the course of three weeks, I drove three performance cars: the Chevrolet Camaro SS with 455 horsepower from a 6.2-liter small block with direct injection; the Dodge Charger Scat Pack with 485 horsepower from a normally aspirated 392 Hemi; and the Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium with 332 horsepower from a turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4.
All three of the aforementioned muscle cars were serious machinery, well-appointed and fun. Of the three, I actually would buy the 2.3-liter Mustang. Seriously… I’ll tell you why: It’s what isn’t under the hood.
The 2.3 EcoBoost I4 is derived from Ford Performance-Spain’s version of the engine in the Focus RS. It is a robust-feeling motor. Driving around town and on the highways, nothing frustrates me more than a car that “can’t get out of its own way.” Not the case with this economical pony car. Terrific mileage and plenty of oomph!
The Mustang makes 332 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque linked to a six-speed manual (an optional 10 speed automatic is available) and launches to 60 in the mid 4-second range with a top speed of 155 mph. The best part that is the EcoBoost engine weighs a whole lot less than the Coyote V8 in the more muscle-y Mustangs, which gives this car great balance in cornering and less weight to push around – and stop.
The componentry is well thought out. Big Brembo brakes from the Mustang GT and independent rear suspension with heavier springs all around. The result is a quick vehicle that gets up and goes and handles beautifully, although it definitely lacks a muscle car note from the dual exhaust known to its V8 brethren.
Between around-town and some mountain driving, the Mustang was amazing. Well-mannered in stop and go traffic, and plenty of zest for a spirited drive. Big engines don’t have to be the end-all for decent horsepower. Let’s face it, 330 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.3 liter is plenty for the street – and enough for track days.
The trim package was sexy between the aero treatments and aluminum appointments in the cockpit. The center console screen was rather small – which is good as the driver spends more time looking at the road. The Mustang’s bright-orange color certainly made those around me quite aware. Perhaps, if you are not shopping for a “look-at-me car,” you might opt for one of the more understated colors.
For the whole package of my tester, the price is an easy-to-swallow $36,755. Definitely a lot of car for the money. Truly fun to drive.
2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance
Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
Base price: $31,685
Price as tested: $36,755
Engine type: 138 cu in, 2261 cc turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Horsepower: 332 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 350 pound-feet @ 3,000 rpm
Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
Length: 188.5 inches
Width: 75.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,500 pounds
City/highway: 22/28 mpg
Final assembly: Dearborn, Michigan
Website: Ford EcoBoost Premium