EcoBoost, Coyotes, and Voodoo: Dissecting the tech powering the 2015 Mustang

Long before its 50th anniversary, the Ford Mustang was a legend.

A big part of the Mustang’s legendary status is due to the slew of fantastic engines that have rumbled behind the now-infamous Pony badge. From the original 289-cubic-inch V8, the mighty 428 Cobra Jet, to the 5.0 V8 of the ’80s, these powerplants have legacies of their own.

So what about the engines that will power the latest and – Ford hopes – greatest Pony Car? Let us take you under the hood of the new 2015 Mustang and see how things stack up.

Not-so-basic

For 2015, the base engine is a 3.7-Liter V6 carried over from the last generation. While some muscle car purists might sneer at the lowly V6; they should know a couple of things. The original Mustang went into battle with a “Thriftpower Inline-6”, alongside its better-known V8 counterparts.

Long before its 50th anniversary, the Ford Mustang was a legend.

What’s more, most Mustangs sold will come with the base engine. So, for most people, the Mustang experience will be defined by this V6.

The good news is that it’s really not a bad engine. The current version of the 3.7-liter Duratec V6 puts out around 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. That’s pretty respectable in a car that might weigh in at as little as 3,300 pounds – or around 200 fewer pounds than the current ‘Stang.

Delightfully, Ford has hinted that the V6 going into the all-new 2015 model will produce “at least” the same power, which at least suggests there may be more in store.

The promise of reduced weight might also lead to an increase in gas mileage. Sure, it may not be the sexiest thing in the world. For buyers looking to get in on the pony car experience without having to mortgage their house or their children, though, spending a bit less at the pumps might be appealing.

A red-blooded V8 for red-blooded Americans

Despite the fact that most Mustangs will get a V6, the Mustang has always been defined by the V8. In this case, the V8 is the same 5.0-liter ‘Coyote’ as in the last generation. And you know what? That is fine with me, because this re-tuned version promises to be a gas.

Ford says that the Coyote should put down at least 420 snarling horsepower and 390 torques. That is a modest, 8-hp more than the current engine. But Ford’s engineers have rolled up their short sleeved white shirts adjusted their black frame glasses and gotten to work. The 2015 version of the engine features a new intake manifold which should improve mileage at least a bit, too.

2015 Ford Mustang5.0-liter Coyote V8

Improved engine tuning and new components should also improve smoothness and widen the torque range, giving drivers more power more of the time – not to mention asphyxiating fewer penguins while they are at it, thanks to lower emissions.

Even better, some industry analysts believe that Ford’s current power projections are conservative and that the final numbers will be substantially higher. There are even rumors that within a year of launch a 500-hp GT will be available. We will just have to see.

The power of Voodoo?

Don’t get too used to the snarling Coyote, though, because it may not be around for too long. The upcoming 2016 Mach 1 is rumored to have an all new V8 known as ‘Voodoo’. In the Mach 1, with the help of forced induction, this engine might put out as much as 650 horsepower.

The upcoming 2016 Mach 1 is rumored to have an all new V8 known as ‘Voodoo’.

The real secret behind the Voodoo’s power is its radical block architecture, with a 180 degree crankshaft. Ferrari has used these flat plane V8s since the 1970s, due to their improved power and throttle response. But dealing with vibration makes 180-degree V8s tricky to engineer. If this is what Ford goes to, it should be interesting to see.

If Ford does in fact move to the Voodoo V8, it is likely to replace all applications in which Ford currently uses the Coyote. While the Voodoo should be an improvement over the ‘Coyote’, the real reason for replacement is cost. The ‘Coyote’ shares its architecture with Jaguar’s 5.0-liter V8 (remember when Ford owned Jaguar?). As such, the current 5.0 V8 is both complicated and expensive to produce.

That might be okay for Jaguar, which, as a small market automaker, competes on quality more over price. Ford, though, needs to sell a lot of Mustangs. That means that it is looking to retire the Coyote much sooner than it normally might.

Mustang moves forward

Perhaps the most radical change in the 2015 Mustang is the appearance of an EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder. This 2.3-liter engine will be the same size as the last turbo four to sit in a Mustang’s engine bay: the 1986 SVO.

Unlike that motor, this direct-injected, turbocharged pony will put out at least 310 horsepower and around 300 torques across its entire rev range. These numbers aren’t that much different than the current V6, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be very different to drive.

The EcoBoost four is likely to be substantially lighter than the V6, with more immediate throttle response and more accessible torque. Not to mention the fact that the small motor should make for good fuel economy. And I don’t just mean good for a Mustang, I mean as much as 33 to 35 mpg. That might well be worth the premium.

2015 Ford Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 from the Taurus SHO might also find its way into the Mustang, eventually replacing the base model V6. This is unlikely to happen in the first few model years, but may happen during a mid-life refresh.

Oh and a word for the purists out there: I understand that to many of you feel that the Mustang is defined by its V8s, and that the icon should live forever as it did in 1964. But, when the Mustang appeared in ’64, it was a radical departure from anything else on the market. It had been developed largely under the radar and – shockingly – based on the Ford Falcon’s unibody platform.

So please don’t get too bent out of shape at the prospect of a turbocharged ‘Stang. Fifty years in, there is no better time to take chances and move the car into the future than right now.

What’s what

In the end, until the engines are in a car that we can actually drive, we have to restrain ourselves from any real judgment. That being said, there doesn’t seem to be a loser in the bunch. Each engine caters to a specific section of Mustang culture and each is promising in its own right.

As with every other Mustang, this generation is likely to see its share of changes and options over its lifespan. In fact, with the promise of a new V6 and a new V8, this might be a particularly busy few years for the pony car. That is fine by me, because it just means more Mustangs to drive.

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