2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package Driven: It's Great

It gets an engine based on the old Focus RS's as well as tasty GT bits.

Ed TahaneyWriter, photographerManufacturerPhotos

SAUSALITO, California—The heart of the dearly departed Ford Focus RS lives on here in the U.S. market, in the form of the 2020 Mustang 2.3-Liter High Performance Package—and it still beats like that of a race horse: Te amo!

Ford sold more than 113,000 Mustangs globally last year and today there are nine different models to choose from—from a more affordable base 100a-package model up to, soon, the top-shelf Shelby GT500. The package at the heart of this story is available on Mustang EcoBoost coupes and convertibles and adds $4,995 to the sticker. There are also four new shades offered for 2020: Grabber Lime, Iconic Silver, Red Hot Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, and Twister Orange.

Under the hood, the 2.3-Liter High Performance Package adds the Focus RS's sublime inline-four engine built in Valencia, Spain. The former hot-hatch powerplant is flipped 90 degrees to fit in the rear-drive pony car, and underwent several other revisions for this application. Engineers added a larger, 63-mm twin-scroll turbo compressor and a bigger radiator, for example. The result is 332 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, with the engine mated to a 10-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. This Mustang guns from zero to 60 mph in the mid-four-second range on premium fuel up to its top speed of 155 mph, Ford claims. That's 34 mph faster than a base EcoBoost Mustang—and we can confirm that this pony car hauls ass and is a blast to drive.

"This engine is a high-revving marvel," said Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer. "The torque actually is from 3,000 to 4,500 at peak. So, it will sit flat at 350 lb-ft, and then paired up with the automatic transmission, you'll shift from peak torque to peak torque, which is kind of a unique experience in a car. It really makes it feel like it's got a tremendous amount of power and it's always there for you."

No doubt about that. We tested the automatic version first during a highly engaging and satisfying run on the windy roads just north of San Francisco. Active exhaust is standard for the package and makes a sweet crackle and pop both on downshifts entering turns and when you get on it hard on exit. It's a hoot and a half, and the electric power steering has good turn-in; the car also feels lively and responsive thanks in part to its 53/47 front/rear weight distribution. The independent suspension comes with a strut tower brace, and the car receives chassis and aerodynamic upgrades from the Mustang GT Performance Pack. The High Performance Package also adds larger four-piston fixed calipers with 13.9-inch front rotors from the Mustang GT. There is a 32-mm anti-roll bar up front and a 21.7-mm bar at the rear. For better cornering, Ford added a 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle along with 19x9-inch aluminum wheels shod with 255/40 summer tires.

"So, the engine had so much power that if we put bigger tires on it we can get better performance out of it," Widemann said. "It really came down to the experimentation of pushing the upper boundaries of what a four-cylinder can do."

Looks-wise, the package adds a metallic gray stripe on the hood, a black front splitter, and brake cooling ducts from the GT Performance Package. It also sports a blacked-out grille with an offset Mustang tri-bar pony emblem in red, white, and blue, plus special side badges, gray mirrors, and a raised blade rear spoiler with quad exhaust tips around back. Inside, you find an aluminum instrument panel with oil pressure and turbo-boost gauges, plus a nifty serialized dash plaque above the glovebox. Like the rest of the 2020 Mustang line, it also receives an updated Sync 3 infotainment system.

Additionally, for an extra $1,995 there's an exclusive EcoBoost Handling Package that includes semi-metallic brakes, MagneRide dampers, a 24-mm solid rear bar, and 19x9.5-inch aluminum wheels with 265/40 Pirelli P Zero Corsa 4 summer tires.

The 2.3L High Performance Package is available at dealers this fall, meaning it should arrive on the streets any day now.

2020 Ford Mustang 2.3-Liter High Performance Package Specifications
ON SALE Fall
PRICE $31,685/$44,470 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.3L DOHC 16-valve inline-4; 332 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual; 10-speed automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe/convertible
EPA MILEAGE 20/27 mpg manual; 20/28 mpg automatic (city/hwy)
L x W x H 188.5 x 75.4 x 54.9 in coupe/ 188.5 x 75.4 x 54.3 in convertible
WHEELBASE 107.1 in
WEIGHT 3,771 lb/3,758
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 155 mph
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