Skid Marks

Ford Mustang EcoBoost 2.3


Visitors at MIAS 2018 were captivated by heavily updated Mustang. PHOTO BY EUGENE ARANETA

Ah, the eponymous (pardon the pun) Mustang, which helped kick-start an entire segment in the automotive industry.

The Mustang best represents virile, reckless and oftentimes rebellious youth. But to true motoring enthusiasts, the Mustang is an icon, a symbol of everything we all love about cars.

The sound from that burbling V8 and the accompanying vibrations, especially from a heavily tuned V8, from three speed, to four, to five and now six on the floor, the smell of burnt rubber, brake pads and of course high-octane gasoline, the Mustang is an intense aural, and to car guys, a very sensual experience.

Mustang EcoBoost dashboard

To be honest, I was never a fan of the Mustang. The previous generation had amazing persona, but lacked depth, and crucially, stability.

I borrowed one a few months prior to the release of the current generation Mustang with the new independent rear suspension.

The previous Mustang’s live-axle rear was so bad, so wooly, so uncontrollable and so twitchy, it felt like Ford went back in time just so it could deliver cheap thrills.

It also cemented the Mustang as a “people-mower.” Don’t believe me? Google Ford Mustang car meets, and you’ll see what I mean.

Ground speed speedometer

Mustang Recaro bucket seats

In short, I never bothered to write a review because, aside from the engine, the car was just horrible—and tighter than a Japanese kei car inside.

Fast forward to the new one, and I love it. I had the 5.0-liter V8 GT variant a few months back, and thankfully, Ford has decided to forgo the heavily-padded-shoulders suit driving experience.

And this American company has learned how to do it, just like how the Europeans do it: sleek and stylish.

The Mustang of today drives well, handles very well on both slow and fast corners out of the box, is fast as ever in a straight-line, and still has that amazing V8 soundtrack.

Now, what happens when you reduce displacement and cylinder count by 50 percent? Does the Mustang become any less?

With much trepidation, I requested for a test-drive of the Mustang EcoBoost, a boosted 2.3-liter 4-cylinder variant.

By losing the 1.7 liters and four cylinders worth of engine displacement, is the Mustang’s mojos halved as well?

Thankfully, no.

Truthfully, the Mustang, with less weight up front, feels livelier, pointier, more responsive, more balanced overall.

Mustang race car-style toggle switches

Rear-end stability seems better, and the instant torque snap from flooring the V8 is gone, replaced by a surprisingly more progressive build-up of power.

It’s also easier to live with, and while fuel consumption hasn’t been halved, it’s more agreeable.

I averaged about 7 km/liter in the city, and a very decent 11 km/liter on my weekly drive up and down Tagaytay.

It’s still a big car, and the interior, though vastly more improved and more comfortable than the previous model, is still on the snug side of things.

2.3l 4-cylinder EcoBoost turbo engine

The Ford Sync isn’t the most intuitive of multimedia connectivity set-ups, but once you go through the hassle of configuring your devices once, it’s a breeze thereafter.

With careful arrangement, I was able to bring a whole lot of things in it with me—the missus, our fur baby, and all our personal effects for a weekend.

On the highway, the engine is far more muted, making it a surprisingly capable long-distance Grand Tourer.

The twin-scroll turbocharger delivers a sizeable 310 hp and more importantly, 434 Newton meters of torque over a broad power band.

The Mustang EcoBoost is fuel efficient enough for daily use, but with the charm and drama of the GT V8.

It sounds anodyne at full-throttle, but today’s Mustang isn’t a thrill-a-minute-special; it’s meant to be as useable as possible over a wide array of driving conditions.

The traction, stability, and ABS-EBD brakes add a degree of safety, as do the six airbags, with dual-stage front, knee and side airbags as standard.

The electric power steering is a tad heavy compared to the usual ones you’ll find in a family car, but that’s fine as the heft is in keeping with the Mustang’s sporting intentions.

All other photos on this page show the various meet-and-greet activities of the Mustang Club PH and Mustang Enthusiasts PH during the four-day 2018 Manila International Auto Show.

There are paddle shifters behind to help you get more involved as you flip through the 6-speed automatic transmission.

While the EcoBoost forgoes the GT’s Brembo brakes, there’s still ample stopping power, as well as excellent feel and feedback from the brakes.

On winding roads, the loss of the weight up front makes the Mustang EcoBoost easier to handle for more novice drivers who lack experience with RWD cars.

There’s none of the tail-happy, people-mowing experience one might expect from a powerful RWD car. The steering feels very intuitive, confident, and backed by ample grip and stability from the rear.

And despite riding on large 19-inch wheels shod with Pirelli P-Zero 255/40R19 tires, ride comfort is firm, but compliant, composed at high speeds, as well as capable of soaking up most bumps and ruts on the road.

The independent rear suspension gives the Mustang loads of grip, stability and compliance, thanks to far better individual rear wheel articulation and proper progressive camber/toe adjustment gains upon suspension compression.

At a shade under P2.8 million, getting into pony car territory has never been so attractive.

The Mustang EcoBoost is fuel efficient enough for daily use, packs much of the charm and drama of the GT V8, but with far better efficiency.

The selectable driving mode from the toggle switches means you can be as relaxed and low key when you’re not in the mood (Normal), or drive like a bat out of hell when the weekend beckons (Sport), or when a track day is on the calendar (Track).

And yes, the electronic line lock means you can heat up the rears while keeping the front brakes locked just like the pros do before launching down the 1322-foot/quarter-mile strip.

On a side note, Ford just recently unveiled a heavily updated Mustang at the recently concluded Manila International Autoshow 2018.

The revised Mustang features Ford’s Sync 3 multimedia system, a 10-speed automatic to replace the old 6-speed automatic, plus a 6-speed manual transmission.

The bigger news is that a convertible is finally available, making the Mustang an even better weekend cruiser.

This is timely, as the Mustang will be celebrating its 54th birthday in April 17. Treat yourself to one— you won’t regret it!

Some members of the Mustang Club PH

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