Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

While running our V8-powered Mustang GT longtermer, we had a burning question to answer: how does it compare to the Ecoboost?
Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

It’s funny how the perception of the Ford Mustang differs on this side of the pond. In North America I guess it’s always going to be just a Mustang, even when there’s a new one on the block. But here in the UK? It’s rare, exotic and interesting. Maybe that’ll change now we have a steady stream of right-hand drive cars being sold through official channels, but for now, the Mustang gets a hell of a lot of attention. And it must be purchased as the V8 ‘GT’, right?

With our absurdly high petrol prices, the expectation was that most Brit Mustang buyers would go for the much more economical 2.3-litre Ecoboost. But no: since launch, UK Mustang sales have been dominated by the V8, and although Ford UK had been expecting that to level off, nearly 70 per cent have gone for the GT since the pony car launched here.

So is that the right choice? Is the Ecoboost a viable alternative and a ‘proper’ Mustang? Naturally, we had to find out by getting an Ecoboost together with ‘our’ V8 GT longtermer a few months ago.

Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

Certainly in terms of aesthetics, there’s little to tell the two apart - inside or out. Only the geekiest of car fans will be able to tell if you’ve gone for the sensible ‘Stang - until you prod the starter button, that is. Doing so in the Ecoboost sees the four-cylinder turbo engine up front cough to life and settle into an un-exotic drone, whereas the - admittedly slightly muted - V8 rumble of the GT is sure to stimulate the hackles of any petrolhead’s neck.

The 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ engine is far from the most interesting eight-banger I’ve used, but a brand new V8-powered car for £35k? That’s unheard of in these parts, and rowing through the gears with the sound of freedom filling the cabin is addictive fun. As far as USPs go, that’s a strong one.

Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

It’s important to remember though that even with 420bhp sent to the correct wheels and a coupe body, this is not really a sports car. It’s not trying to be either, and if you do attempt to drive it as such, you’ll be disappointed.

It’s competent enough with a surprising amount of rear-end grip (and tricky when you eventually run out of grip - take care if you want to avoid to contribute to the unrelenting stream of Mustang crash jokes), but it’s not a car that enjoys fast changes of direction.

It feels heavy and at times cumbersome, and the steering is woolly. The suspension is lacking in sophistication too, managing to somehow be harshly firm yet wallowy at the same time.

Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

When getting behind the wheel of the Ecoboost for the first time, I was expecting more of the same, but in a slower package. But my word, changing to a lighter, smaller engine that stores its central mass so much further back makes one hell of a difference.

There’s an eagerness, a tenacity to the front end that’s conspicuously missing in the GT. It’s the more agile car, and while it still isn’t a sports car, it’s much closer to the description than the GT.

The Ecoboost may be down on power and cylinders, but it's still up for old school RWD fun...
The Ecoboost may be down on power and cylinders, but it's still up for old…

It’s not like you’re giving away much in speed, either. Sure, the Ecoboost gives away almost 120bhp and a whole second during the 0-62mph sprint (5.8 seconds vs the GT’s 4.8sec dash), but thanks to a thumping mid-range torque delivery it doesn’t feel all that far away. I could do without the weird, fake sound that’s piped in through the speakers.

It seems like a ‘proper’ Mustang to me, and let’s not forget, it has a similarly-powered ancestor in the form of the Mustang SVO. It even had the same size engine as this. But if I had the cash lying around, would I make my Mustang Ecoboost flavoured? I’d have to say no.

Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

Even without the bright red paint and brilliantly unsubtle racing stripes of ‘our’ GT, the Ecoboost I drove still got plenty of attention. But I always felt like a bit of a fraud behind the wheel, like I didn’t deserve the looks and the smiles. The admirers reckon I’m in a V8 slice of the American Dream, not something with a common or garden turbo four banger thrashing away under the hood.

Remote video URL

I also missed the big ol’ V8 every time I drove the Ecoboost, and interestingly, the fuel economy differences weren’t as big as I expected them to be. While we didn’t have time for any terribly scientific tests, generally the Ecoboost would do 17mpg on a country road thrash, while the GT did around 13. On a long cruise you can eke out 38mpg out of the Ecoboost’s 2.3-litre, but get this: I managed 33mpg in the GT. Not bad for an engine twice the size and with double the cylinder count, no?

Is The Ecoboost Really A Proper Ford Mustang?

Yes, the difference between those figures is large enough to sting over time, and of course the Ecoboost is £4000 cheaper, but if you’re anything like us, the extra noise and power should make up for that.

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that our stance is V8 or bust, but what has surprised me is how likeable the Ecoboost is. If you have some compelling reason to buy the Ecoboost, I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed, particularly as it’s in many ways the superior car. But for me, in this world of downsizing and a dwindling population of big N/A engines, I’ll have the shouty eight-banger every day of the week. Preferably in red, and with racing stripes. Damn, I miss our Mustang…



Both are epic!

01/08/2017 - 14:37 |
18 | 0
Pierce Tolar

It’s weird how the US and British version of the GT are so different.

01/08/2017 - 14:40 |
90 | 0

It is, especially considering ‘One Ford’ global strategy

01/08/2017 - 14:42 |
36 | 2

That’s why if I lived in the US I wouldn’t buy a European car (watch CT’s video comparing US M3 and EU M3)
And here in the UK I am not willing to buy an American car (like the Mustang)
Ok, some American cars are not really American (e.g. the Ford Focus RS) and some European cars have been developed primarily for the US market, so this does not always relate, but generally speaking, EU cars are better in EU and American cars are better in NA

01/08/2017 - 18:36 |
16 | 2
Ali Mahfooz

“… the EcoBoost is £4000 cheaper”. I can see why people are opting for the V8 option over the 4 cylinder Mustang. It’s just a small fee hike over the EcoBoost model which people find it good value for money. And like you pointed out the fuel economy - 38mpg in the EcoBoost vs 33mpg in the V8. It’s a good upgrade from the EcoBoost for all the right reasons. :)

Nice write BTW.

01/08/2017 - 14:44 |
6 | 2

To be honest, I wouldn’t be averse from the EcoBoost Mustang. The 52/48 weight distribution of the EcoBoost Mustang is the closest a production Mustang ever came to the ideal 50/50 balance. But… the price difference between the EcoBoost and the V8 is too small to justify not opting the V8, furthermore the V8 Mustang has a 53/47 weight distribution, so that’s not much of a difference either. The fuel consumption of the EcoBoost is not as much better than the V8 as one would expect.
I’m sure that a four-cylinder Mustang canbe a great car if it’s done right, the SVO Mustang has proven that. With a power in the territory of 400ish bhp (though it’s questionable whether that’s still reliable), an upgraded suspension and some goodies here and there, the EcoBoost Mustang would possibly be a car that’s a real alternative to the V8.

01/08/2017 - 15:21 |
26 | 2
Matt Robinson
Matt Robinson

In reply to by Jakob

This is exactly it. The Ecoboost is a great car and a much more exciting one than you might expect, but the price gap to the V8 isn’t big enough to tempt me away.

I will say though despite the difference in the weight distribution and the weights of the engines themselves probably not being quite as big as you’d expect (haven’t been able to get specific figures but the added turbo gubbins of the 2.3 will close the gap - overall weight difference is 63kg), there is a noticeable difference in how much keener the Ecoboost is to turn in. But again, not enough to make me shirk the V8…

01/08/2017 - 16:10 |
12 | 0
Joshua Lue
01/08/2017 - 15:31 |
6 | 0

Also thought that the GT had better brakes than the Ecoboost. (6 Calliper Brembo’s are std on the UK 5.0 V8 model). A complete no brainer … And don’t forget that the GT 5.0 can bought as a manual.

01/08/2017 - 16:38 |
4 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

It does have larger brakes. Aslso we have the 6-speed option for all Mustangs.

01/09/2017 - 11:39 |
0 | 0

Mustangs have always had engines offering less than 8 cylinders. I never understand why this is even a debate.

SN95 V6s with a few suspension mods make good autocross cars, I have seen 4 cylinder models being used for rally cross. The SVO, which was the turbo 4 cylinder model was faster than the V8.

01/08/2017 - 16:40 |
16 | 4

Listen to me very carefully….


01/08/2017 - 18:58 |
10 | 2

Well, in the Netherlands the v8 Mustang is €119.000 and the ecoboost is €57.000 … So yeah..

01/08/2017 - 19:36 |
18 | 0
James Pond

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Are you serious? Really?

01/10/2017 - 07:09 |
0 | 0
Hannes Vande Walle

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

We need to pay taxes that relate to engine size and pollution the cars make, it is such a big difference between these two that a 5.0 is not a reasonable purchase

01/11/2017 - 09:27 |
2 | 0
Leander De Gusseme

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Over here in Belgium it’s €35 000 for the eco boost and around €37 000 - €40 000 for the GT. But the registration fee and yearly taxes are just insane for the GT (about €10 000 for the registration and yearly taxes around €4 000). That’s why the eco boost is so popular here (speaking as a Ford mechanic).

01/12/2017 - 05:36 |
0 | 0

The Mustang is a straight-up muscle car; having one with anything other than a V8 just seems pointless

01/08/2017 - 19:53 |
6 | 2



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