26 September 2023

Chasing A Bowser Boost With A Mustang

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By Paul Gover.

The high price of petrol has people ducking and diving to save money.

It could be something as simple as pumping up the tyres to cut drag to something as complex – and costly – as a switch to a battery electric car.

The easiest way to save fuel is to tread lightly on the accelerator pedal and leave the car at home if you can walk or talk public transport.

But, even if you love driving, there are surprising choices.

One of those would be to walk straight past the Ford Mustang V8 in showrooms and drop instead the four-cylinder model.

Officially known as the EcoBoost model, the four-cylinder pony car comes with the promise of official fuel economy as low as 8.8 litres/100 kilometres.

That’s not great when a baby hatchback can dip into the 4 litres/100km range, but it’s mightily impressive for a ‘muscle’ car.

Best of all, there is no real giveaway to the downsizing job under the bonnet.

The EcoBoost Mustang has been part of the Ford family since the first official right-hand drive models landed in Australia and there is no sign of it disappearing when an all-new ’stang joins the local line-up in 2023.

Yes, that’s right, the Mustang will get a total renewal next year – following an official preview next month in Detroit, USA – despite the influx of all-new battery electric cars.

Sales of the EcoBoost have always trailed well behind the Mustang V8 and that’s mostly down to the visceral appeal of a large-capacity petrol V8.

The exhaust note, alone, is enough to convert most Mustang buyers.

And yet there is lots of other good stuff in the four-cylinder car.

The body design is exactly the same and so is the cabin. That means Ford’s excellent infotainment package, supportive sports seats and an overall finish that is fine for the price.

Choosing a six-speed manual gearbox also makes sense, since it saves a little money – an EcoBoost ’stang drives away for less than $60,000 – and it restores some of the driving enjoyment that goes with the V8.

The 10-speed auto is a good gearbox, and it helps with economy in the V8, but a six-speed manual is the driver’s choice and nothing beats it for a twisty road on a Sunday morning.

Now, about the four-cylinder engine …

It actually makes the Mustang better.

It might not have the V8 bellow, or the outright straight-line punch, but it is a nicer drive for more of the time.

The engine is lighter over the nose and that means the handling is better, with better response from the front tyres in turns. It also stops better.

On the response side, it still has 236 kiloWatts and the turbo punch provides 448 Newton-metres for more of the time. So the V8 has higher outright numbers, but you have to rev it harder – not good for economy – to get the best.

Crack the throttle in the EcoBoost car and you’re more likely to get a solid surge from low speeds.

And that’s the fun thing in a car like the Mustang. You want to be having fun without creating a nuisance or killing your fuel economy.

So come for the fuel economy in the Mustang EcoBoost and you’re like to stay and enjoy the rest of the drive.


Position: a smart choice for sports car fans

Price: from $57,114 driveway

Engine: 2.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol turbo

Power: 236kW/448Nm

Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Plus: looks and drives like a Mustang, sips fuel

Minus: exhaust sound, bragging rights

THE TICK: definitely a smart choice

Score: 8/10

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