If history repeats itself, we will see a more powerful Mustang GT in just a couple of years. For 2015 Ford revamped the Coyote 5.0, with basically Boss 302 internals and a new intake manifold. These engines are stout, capable of handling a massive amount of boost pressure and pumping out four-digit horsepower -although we don’t yet have any indication of how long they’ll last at those levels. While the potential for modification means a lot to many of you reading this, it may not mean as much to the average consumer hitting Ford showrooms to buy a new Mustang, or compare it to the Camaro or Challenger.
Right now, General Motors and the bow-tie crew are making a lot of noise about the sixth-generation Camaro, due later this year. That car will supposedly ride on a smaller, lighter chassis. Sources say the car will shed 200 pounds from the current platform, putting it right at the same weight as the Mustang. It will offer at least one version of the LT1 engine initially with other variations likely on the way, and 460 hp out of the gate. Given the power potential behind the LT1, coupled with a lighter chassis, the Mustang could be in for a run for its money.
Let’s think back nearly 20 years however. In 1996 Ford brought the Modular engine platform to the Mustang for the first time. At that time the mod engine had been in production cars for only 4 years, beginning with Lincoln and the Ford Crown Vic. It took only three more years for Ford to revise that engine to produce substantially more power, and couple it to a computer that allowed the car to respond well to modifications and electronic tuning. That was the 4.6 PI engine, and it helped set the stage for more than a decade of modular engine performance in the Mustang GT.
Fast forward nearly a decade later to the 2010 Mustang. Ford had given the S197 Mustang a makeover inside and out. They also bumped the horsepower slightly on the 4.6-liter 3-valve engine. With a new, revised Camaro hitting the streets, Ford needed to pack more performance in the Mustang and give the car a shot of adrenaline that would once again make it the performance car yardstick in the pony car market. The Coyote engine found its way into the Mustang in 2011, and with it, returned the badge that had made late model Mustang, the 5.0.
Now, five years later, we are once again at a crossroads with the Mustang. The S550 chassis is the most capable ever, as we can attest by our testing and experience already with these cars. The car is better balanced, and performs quite well. While the Coyote has been bumped to 435 hp in OEM form, we would wager it’s not going to be enough to stop the onslaught from the Camaro.
With the Camaro debuting with 460-plus horsepower in SS trim, and less weight for that power to move around, the car could lay down some devastating 0-60 and 1/4 mile times. Not to mention a smaller, lighter chassis could also be better suited to the road course and autocross.
To keep up, we suspect that something is in the works for the Mustang and we see two possible scenarios here. One is that the Coyote gets another set of revisions. The jump to direct injection could happen, allowing for another bump in compression ratio, another intake manifold revision, and even more aggressive tuning from the factory. Those items combined could push the Coyote to over 460 hp, and Ford will need it if the new Camaro weighs less than the Mustang.
There’s also a second scenario. Ford is heavily pushing EcoBoost technology across all of its brands. While the Mustang already offers an EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, we know for a fact that there’s an all new version of the 3.5-liter on the way for the Raptor, GT, and possibly other models. We know in the Raptor this engine will make at least 450 hp. This isn’t unlike what we saw when the 3.5 EcoBoost debuted in the F150 and the Taurus SHO producing 40 more horsepower than what the Mustang GT offered with the 4.6-liter three valve. What we see here is an opportunity to offer a Mustang model to slot between the GT and GT350.
Ford could put the new 3.5 EcoBoost in the Mustang. It would weigh about the same as the GT, but could potentially make more horsepower. An EcoBoost V6 Mustang model could become a new Mach 1, or even the next version of the Boss. Yes we understand that traditionalists might cry out if either of these cars didn’t have a V8 under the hood, however, the potential for outstanding performance both from the factory and with modifications remains huge.
While this is all complete speculation on our part, a few things are certain. The General is angry about the success of the new Mustang and is looking to regain its sales crown, Mopar has its big fat kitty growling in their corner, but she’s in a different league, and while the GT350 will be a success, the blue collar Mustang faithful need something that can duke it out with the Camaro in a fair fight. If Ford wants to remain on top, they’re going to be forced to find more power.