2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium - Does It Sound like a Mustang?
Miles to Date: 5,473
I was sitting at the stoplight in our Four Seasons 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost, "minding my own business" to use the street racing parlance, when I heard a V-8 engine revving with intent in the next lane. It was a mid- to late '90s Mustang GT equipped, as most of these cars are, with an aftermarket exhaust and a girl in the passenger seat. I was rather flustered. Do I respond to a bark with a yip? Only as the light turned green, did I recall that I have some 95 hp more than V-8 Mustangs from the '90s. I jumped on the throttle and buried the GT before we'd crossed the intersection. The 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost can bite, but we're having trouble getting used to its bark.
Ford has been selling non-V-8 Mustangs for years. But the 2015 Mustang, with its optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine, is one of the first that loudly claims to be more than a rental car. Our Mustang looks like a Mustang GT from just about every angle, especially since we upgraded from the standard 17-inch aluminum wheels to black 19-inch rolling stock shod with summer tires.
Our four-cylinder Mustang also drives like a Mustang, or at the very least like a sporty car. "Ford got the ride-and-handling and brake feel just right," notes daily news editor Jake Holmes. The steering is a bit light for some editors but firms up when the car is in Sport mode. The six-speed manual transmission feels very precise. "Almost as slick as in the best Hondas," says Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa. Our optional Recaro front seats would look at home in a Boss 302.
The all-new EcoBoost Mustang even accelerates like a Mustang -- zero to 60 mph takes only 5.6 seconds -- while achieving four-cylinder fuel economy. So far, we're managing 25 mpg in mixed driving, about 1 mpg off the EPA combined rating but still much better than both the V-8 (rated at 19 mpg combined) and the V-6 (21 mpg combined). A caveat is that we're doing this almost exclusively on premium fuel. A few fill-ups of 87 octane noticeably hurt throttle response. (Ford rates the 2.3-liter four-cylinder at 275 hp on regular octane versus 310 hp on premium fuel.)
But our car doesn't sound like a Mustang. "It sounds terrible," says executive editor Mac Morrison. "I hear all kinds of induction and gear whine noise." The racket becomes particularly bad when the engine is under load at lower rpm. Wind the turbo-four toward redline, and you'll get a more pleasing growl, but only with the windows closed. Crack them open, and the whoosh of the turbocharger can drown out the engine note, which is partially being piped through the stereo speakers.
Ford, of course, disagrees with our assessment.
"I spend a lot of time in the EcoBoost convertible, and my impression is that it actually sounds better with the top down," says Mustang sound quality engineer Shawn Carney. "When you're cruising, it's tuned to be as refined as we can get it, but then when you squeeze into the throttle, it's tuned to deliver character, and it's not supposed to be different whether the windows are up or down."
Yet Carney acknowledges that making a turbocharged four-cylinder sound like a Mustang presents a particular challenge. With V-8 Mustangs, Carney explains that his job is essentially to let the "engine play out its natural tune." A turbocharged four-cylinder, on the other hand, produces several unpleasant noises. "What we end up focusing on is how to manage what we call 'error states' -- the things we don't want."
Carney also realizes a Mustang with a four-cylinder is bound to come under intense scrutiny, especially given the use of artificial noise. "For me, being a lifelong Mustang fan, it was important to make something that was plausible."
The biggest issue might be our preconceptions about what it means to drive a Mustang. "It took me a while to adjust to driving our Mustang less like a lazy old muscle car and more like I usually drive turbo four-cylinder cars -- a lot more aggressively with frequent forays to redline," says daily news editor Joey Capparella. A friend of the magazine who owns a 2014 Mustang GT and sampled our car put it more simply: "You have to get the V-8 out of your head when you're driving this."
- Body style 2-door coupe
- Accommodation 4-passenger
- Construction Steel unibody
- Base price (with dest. ) $30,125
- As tested $36,700
- Engine 16-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
- Displacement 2.3 liters
- Power 310 hp @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque 320 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
- Transmission 6-speed manual
- Drive Rear-wheel
- EPA Fuel Economy 21/32/25 (city/hwy/combined)
- Steering Electrically assisted
- Lock-to-lock 2.2 turns
- Turning circle 37.8 ft
- Suspension, Front Strut-type
- Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
- Brakes F/R Vented discs
- Wheels 19-inch aluminum
- Tires Pirelli P-Zero summer
- Tire size 255/40R Y 19
- Headroom F/R 37.6/34.8 in
- Legroom F/R 44.5/30.6 in
- Shoulder room F/R 56.3/52.2 in
- Wheelbase 107.1 in
- Track F/R 62.3/64.9 in
- L x W x H 188.3 x 75.4 x 54.4 in
- Passenger capacity 84.5 cu ft
- Cargo capacity (rear seats up/down) 13.5 cu ft
- Weight 3,532 lb
- Weight dist. F/R 52/48%
- Fuel capacity 15.5 gal
- Est. fuel range 496 miles
- Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)
- Front and rear independent sport suspension
- Limited-slip rear axle
- Front and rear disc brakes
- Selectable drive modes
- Leather-trimmed seats
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
- SYNC touchscreen display with MyFord Touch
- Push-button start
- Universal garage door opener
- Satellite radio connectivity
- Track apps
- USB/iPod interface
- Cruise control
- Front daytime running lights
- Air conditioning
- Heated, manually folding mirrors
- HID projector headlights
- Automatic headlights
- Rear diffuser
- 60/40-split folding rear seats
options for this vehicle:
- Shaker Pro 12-speaker premium sound system - $1,795.00
- EcoBoost Performance Package: 255/40R19 Summer tires, rear spoiler delete, 3.55 ratio limited-slip axle. Torsion bar, rear sway bar, 19-inch ebony black painted aluminum wheels -- $1,995
- Premier trim with color accent -- $395.00
- Recaro leather sport seats -- $1,595.00
- Six-speed manual transmission - $0