2015 Mustang Ecoboost: The terribly attaching mini-pony
So, okay I am a purist. I like manual gearboxes, naturally aspirated engines, and cars that communicate with the driver. Gentlemen’s cars. But while I was in the United States, after having tested the 2015 Mustang Convertible V6 in Miami (http://a-e.li/drives/mustang-miami/), I had the opportunity to test-drive the 2015 Mustang Ecoboost four additional times, and in its two body configurations : the Coupé, twice in Texas and once in Orlando, and the Convertible once in Nevada. I did not want to rush this report, for a few reasons. First of all, I really really really liked that car, and wanted to wait to see if getting back to Switzerland and driving back to the European standards would change my mind, but it didn’t, so it is time for me to share with you my amazing experiences I had with these cars. Text: Mickaël B. Images: Mickaël B. & Bertrand D. ©
For the purpose of this report, I will relate the different test-drives in their chronological order. I had been so disappointed by the V6 Mustang in Miami and its very lazy engine, I complained a lot from it at my local Ford dealer while I was bringing my car for a few repairs, but my salesman told me that I really should try the Ecoboost engine, telling me it was a completely different car, and offered me very kindly a week-end testdrive. And I will confess that I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t offer me the real deal with the V8, so I arrived the friday evening after work without any expectations from that car.
While the V6 hasn’t almost changed since 2006, the Ecoboost is a brand new engine incorporating all the latest technology.
What’s the Ecoboost all about ? It’s actually an intermediary engine between the V6 and the V8, developped to introduce the Mustang to the European market. It is the first four-cylinder engine to be ever fitted in the legendary muscle car, and has been turbocharged to offer more power and more torque than the V6, with the output coming to figures of 314 horsepower and 434 Nm. With 2.3 liter displacement in comparison to the gigantic 3.7 liter V6, which develops 305 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque. The difference between the two engines might not seem big as such on the paper, but while the V6 has not much changed since its first appearance in 2006, the Ecoboost is a brand new engine incorporating all the latest technology for performance.
One of the main elements that really disappointed me as well with the V6 I tested was that it had almost no extras. No leather seats, no touchscreen center console, nothing. Interestingly though, the dealer had prepared for me a Premium black Ecoboost Coupé with black interior. The Premium package is a must have for any owner of the pony muscle car in the United States, as it offers everything that my V6 did not have: leather ventilated and heated seats, driving and steering modes, and a big accessible, practical touchscreen, and rearview camera mostly. All these equipments really make the Mustang finally feel special. The exterior appealing design finally matches the interior finish and atmosphere.
On a daily basis, driving in Sport(+) is the best deal, but on the highways I would recommend switching steering back to comfort or normal to avoid doing biceps training at each overtaking.
I went a little bit crazy that first week-end and did over 1500 miles (around 2400 kilometers) with the car. I just wanted to drive. The Mustang is a GT after all, and makes every journey memorable. The Ecoboost is finally a voluntary engine, pushing you, asking you for more. The changes in the driving and steering modes are not that big but given time, you really start to feel the differences. There are three steering modes: Comfort, Normal, Sport and four driving modes: Wet, Normal, Sport (+), and Track. On a daily basis, driving in Sport and Sport+ is probably the best deal, as the car still keeps an great level of comfort, but on the highways I would recommend switching the steering back to normal or comfort to avoid doing biceps training to overtake.
I was very impressed by the sheer difference between the V6 and the Ecoboost, wondering if it was really the same car I had driven.
The only gearbox configuration in which I tested the Ecoboost was the single clutch automated flappy paddle gearbox, which is nicely responsive. I would recommend of course choosing the manual gearbox as on a long-term perspective, I don’t know how the automated gearbox will handle usury. Still, it did perfectly its job, and I must say that on the Sunday giving back the car, I was very impressed by the sheer difference between the V6 and the Ecoboost, wondering if it was really the same car I had driven.
Going to Vegas without a convertible is like going to England without an umbrella. You’re missing something.
My second opportunity to test-drive the Ecoboost happened just before the Monterey Car Week. We had decided with Bertrand and Romain to meet up in Las Vegas, and I had managed to book a last minute surprise, finding a very good deal on a Mustang Ecoboost Convertible with a rental company. I was very happy, because going to Vegas without a convertible is a bit like going to England without an umbrella. You’re missing something. I was very enthusiastic upon the idea to test the convertible and a bit afraid I might find back the dreadful behavior of the V6, due to the heavier weight.
But no, the Ecoboost still had its magic, even better as we could enjoy the sound of the four cylinder fully. In the sun, with the ventilated seats, in the middle of the strip, I must confess, it is personally something close to paradise. Talking about the sound, it is not as good and as charming as the V6 nor the V8 at low revs, but once you climb up, the typical aspiration noise of the turbocharger kicks in but never hides completely the true engine sound. We never had the real opportunity to test enough the dynamic behavior of the convertible to the coupé, but from what I can tell, it is difficult to feel the difference. The convertible has even a funnier handling thanks to its bigger wheelbase, making it much easier to drift !
People only had eyes – and questions – for the two 2015 Ford Mustangs, completely ignoring the Lamborghini Huracan.
As we were in Las Vegas, we went to visit Shelby, and something very odd happened. Our tour guide had as well a Mustang Ecoboost, but while a brand new white Lamborghini Huracan was parked, nobody was paying attention to it ! Moreover, everyone was asking questions about the 2015 Mustangs, asking us if it really changed the muscle car, both on the engine, and on the driving behavior. Because if the Mustang has received a brand new four cylinder engine to be sold in Europe, the 2015 and sixth generation of the most popular muscle car worldwide has also had a big change as it is the first time it has rear independent suspensions. And although I did only drive a few fifth generation Mustangs in the past, I must say that there is a clear difference in the driving style. The car feels much more dynamic, much more developped, but I understand the purist’s disappointment not to find the original heavy back end character of the Mustang that made a lot lf its charm.
I was impressed when I picked up Romain and Bertrand at the airport as we had no problems fitting their two enormous suitcase in the boot, but if we had been even three or four, I doubt that we could have fitted everything. So one advice for a long holiday with the ‘Stang: leave the kids at home. Interestingly though there is a lot of space at the back and a tall adult will fit comfortably even for 2 or 3 hours, especially with the roof down. So don’t wonder if the kids aren’t happy because you didn’t bring them on holiday, you’ll get them to school with the pony. We found a few amazing picture spots in the desert, a little bit south from Las Vegas, and found even a place to have a little fun on the sand with the car, where the colour of our car changed a little bit from the beautiful dark red to a more pale yellow… That is as well something that we were very impressed is how the car managed to stay very comfortable in very rough situations and stony roads.
Listening to some Claude François at full volume, top down, while drifting at the entrance of the Bellagio. What else ?
The design of this 2015 Mustang is utterly beautiful and every time I see one I am so pleased and grateful for Ford for this refined, even more elegant design while still being more agressive. There are no unnecessary, extravagant or exuberant elements. We had some very good time with this car, and some awesome memories, like listening to some Claude François almost at full volume, while drifting at the entrance of the Bellagio. What else ? The sound system in the Mustang is good but switching to our second rental car to reach Pebble Beach, a Chrysler 300, the sound system lf the Mustang suddenly felt a little weak, and adding a few extra money for the optional more powerful audio system would be rea personnal recommendation for people who plan to tune on the radio. But as we were mainly listening to the engine, as true car passionate, we did not car much. The week after, while I was in Orlando, I drove a white Ecoboost but do not have any proper pictures sadly.
My last experience with the Mustang Ecoboost was probably the best. As I was leaving the Unites States, I sold my car three weeks earlier and went to get me for my remaining time another pony, which turned out to be the exact same colour as the one we rented in Las Vegas, but Coupé. What a coincidence ! This experience was very memorable because I got as close as it is possible to own a 2015 Mustang Ecoboost and use it on a daily basis. For three weeks, I drove the Mustang to work, to do my daily shopping, to visit the last places I wanted in Texas. And why was it so good ?
The pony did exactly what every great car does. It made me want to drive it. And drive it more. More and more.
Because the pony did exactly what any good sports car should do. It made me want to drive it. And drive it more. More and more. At the end I was doing over 150 miles per day after work just to drive it, enjoying every single moment I spent with this car. When I wanted it soft and comfortable, it was settling down and relaxing, and when I wanted to drive, it was raging, asking for more and making me smile. This is when I really drove the Mustang at almost all its potential and saw what it was capable of. In comparison with the Dodge Challenger R/T (http://a-e.li/drives/challenger-rt/) which cuts everything on the power at the first drift, the Ford lets you play almost just as well as a Ferrari. You feel that it does stop everything because you are on the verge lf crashing. It is absolutely great because you really can play with the car very safely and have tons of fun !
With over 150 miles per day, I travelled as well quite a bit of course during these three weeks, and I really found the true Grand Tourism DNA inside the muscle car: the more I drove it, the more I liked it. The more I discovered the car, its true character, the more I loved it. It has everything you want: a very big, kind, forgiving heart, an stunning, amazing, elegant and agressive design, a practical, ergonomic, comfortable, and welcoming interior. Both in the Coupé and the Convertible you never feel oppressed as there is loads of light, and the size of the car gets in hand quite easily, once you get used to that very long bonnet.
Conclusion ? Never underestimate the underdog.
So how could I sum up the Mustang Ecoboost ? Well, it’s truely a great car. Would I have one ? Not with the Ecoboost and not with the automated gearbox. I’ll go for a full Premium manual Mustang GT, with the V8. Why ? Because the Ecoboost is just a glimpse of what the real deal is, and although it is an excellent car, which will make a perfect entry-level in Europe, the V8 will always be better. The pony muscle car is designed and developped at first for the five liter eight cylinder engine. But spending so much time with the Ecoboost pony reminded me something very important about cars: Never underestimate the underdog !
The last part that as well increased my good experiences with these Mustang Ecoboost is that they are not only designed for the United States, their roads, but as well people in this country have a true admiration for this car, as I have too, and there was a truely impressive number of times where I stopped and I had people coming to tell me I had a nice car or asking general questions on the 2015 model year. So thank you Ford for letting me drive that car, and thank you to the United States people to be so enthusiatic about the Mustang, and cars in general.
Check out our full gallery of the Mustang Ecoboost we reviewed here: