Many sporty car buyers desire the best of two worlds. That is, they want power and good fuel economy, which long were mutually exclusive with regular gasoline engines.
Ford came up with an answer for folks by creating the turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, which does well in its sporty Mustang. It's no surprise that the EcoBoost has been a hit in 2015.
The rear-drive Mustang got sleeker styling for 2015, along with an upgraded interior and an independent rear suspension for a smoother ride and improved handling.
The EcoBoost isn't very large at 2.3 liters, but it develops a muscular 310 horsepower and 320 pound/feet of torque, thanks to a design that uses direct injection, dual overhead camshasfts 16 valves, variable valve timing and, most importantly, turbocharging.
I recently tested a Mustang EcoBoost and found its engine provides fast acceleration in town and on highways. It lacks the throaty sound of the Mustang V-8, but comes close. The 0-60 m.p.h. time is approximately 5.6 seconds.
The EcoBoost has a welcome broad, flat torque curve that delivers instant response with either the standard 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. I could detect no "turbo lag" with this engine.
My test car had the 6-speed manual. It has a firm, precise but occasionally notchy action and works with a stiff, long-throw clutch that takes some getting used to.
Other Mustang engines are a 3.7-liter V-6 with 300 horsepower and less torque than the EcoBoost or a storming 5-liter V-8 with 435 horsepower.
The EcoBoost has estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on highways with the manual and 21 and 32 with the automatic. With a V-6, the estimates are 17 city and 28 highway with the manual and 19 and 28 with the automatic, despite the V-6's lower horsepower.
As might be suspected, the mighty V-8 provides an estimated 15 and 25 with the manual and 16 and 25 with the automatic.
While billed as a four-seater, the Mustang EcoBoost is really suited for only two adults up front and kids or very short adults in the rear.
Although it's technically a "pony car" or "sporty car," the Mustang is widely referred to--usually by uninformed media folks--as a "sports car." But, considering that it's essentially a two-seater for adults, that description isn't too off the mark.
As with many sports or sporty cars, you must "drop into" the low-floor Mustang and climb out to leave it. Getting in the rear seat is a trial for a taller adult, with limited entry room and a seat belt that gets in the way.
The Mustang has a good-size trunk for a sporty car, but it has a rather high--although wide-- opening. Rear seatbacks flip forward to allow more cargo room, but don't sit entirely flat.
The interior is quiet, but has few storage areas. A humorous touch is a speedometer that has the words "ground speed," besides conventional speed markings. Console cupholders are conveniently placed.
A plaque also says "Mustang since 1964," as the car was introduced in the spring of that year, although it was officially a 1965 model.
The Mustang EcoBoost is well equipped. Standard items include a button start, heated and cooled power and leather-trimmed driver and front passenger seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium sound system and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
There also are cruise control, tilt/telescopic wheel, rearview camera, remote keyless entry and power windows, locks and rearview mirrors with turn signals that fold back to help prevent close-quarter parking damage. Sun visors even have mirrors with dual lights. And, naturally, the dual exhaust system has bright exhaust pipe tips.
For extra-hard-charging drivers, my test Mustang EcoBoost had such options as the $1,995 EcoBoost Performance Package with such items as 19-inch summer performance tires on black aluminum wheels, heavy duty brakes and unique suspension tuning. The rear spoiler is deleted with this package.
Toggle switches on the console adjust steering effort, engine response and transmission and electronic stability control settings using available selectable drive modes.
There's Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet modes. The electric steering gets heavy in Track mode, which really isn't meant for street driving. The car rides firmer in that mode, but the suspension remains supple. The traction control system automatically shuts off in Track mode. And the brakes work very effectively with no extra pedal effort.
Other options for my test car included $1,595 Recaro bucket seats that help hold you securely in place during brisk driving and are best suited to accompany the Performance package.
There also was $295 reverse park assist, $1,195 adaptive cruise control and a $795 voice-activated navigation system.
Safety items include a variety of air bags.
Nobody once thought a major automaker would come up with a production 300-horsepower V-6, but Ford has gone a big step beyond that with its four-cylinder EcoBoost.