If you haven’t driven the 2018 Mustang GT yet, you are in for a treat. We previously shared our first impressions here, but suffice it to say Ford has take the S550 to a new level with its second generation — big updates are in place in the fourth year of the model run, with the dual-fuel Gen 3 Coyote 5.0-liter engine and new 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission taking the car to the next level.
Both enhance the car’s performance, but you might be wondering how much upside is available with just bolt-ons? We’ve got the details thanks to Fred Cook of Evolution Performance, which is feverishly working to science-out a solid roadmap of ’18 ’Stang mods that perform well. How? The same way that nearly 30 years of Mustangs have received a shot in the powerband — with a ProCharger supercharger.
In our first installment on Fred’s silver stallion, we cleared up the naturally aspirated potential of the car. With a simple combination of a cold air intake, an upgraded exhaust, and a custom E85 calibration from Lund Racing, the car became the first to put down over 500 all-natural horsepower to the rear wheels.
What’s the logical next step for a car with this kind of performance? A power-adder is definitely the move to make, and for Fred the choice was one of ProCharger’s P-1X superchargers, which is designed to deliver a broad powerband that pulls all the way to the top of the tach.
Adding boost to a Coyote is always the next step. — Fred Cook, Evolution Performance
“Adding boost to a Coyote is always the next step. Most customers are looking to do the same and we wanted to do the install the way our average customer would,” he said. “The ProCharger kit is the easiest kit to install on a 2015-2018 Mustang GT. They designed this kit with the consumer in mind, who might not have anything more than basic tools to do the installation.”
For him, the choice was based on past experiences seeing the systems for the first-gen S550 installed in the Evo shop.
“This install is very similar to the 2015-2017 kit, but with a few minor changes. One of the big things I like about this kit are the minimal things that need to be modified,” he added. “If you ever had to take the ProCharger system off, you could easily do so without any trace of it being installed. Some kits require you to cut up half the components in the engine bay and cobble pieces together, which makes the install a mess.”
While the ProCharger system is designed as a complete kit for most street applications, Fred wanted to push this car to new heights, so he ordered a tuner kit optioned with the Stage 2 intercooler upgrade. The latter is coated in black to blend in with the grille. As such, he supplied the necessary supporting hardware to drive the combination to a much higher level of performance.
“Fuel system components are one of the important supporting modifications for a ProCharger kit. We do things right the first time; it might not be the cheapest option but it’s the best. You need to use the right size injectors to support your future power goals so why not save money and do the right injectors now,” Fred says.
“A fuel pump booster is another supporting modification we like to do when installing a supercharger kit. The JMS PowerMax V2 FuelMax fuel pump voltage booster is one of our favorites. It is a simple plug-and-play installation that connects to the existing fuel pump driver module and the voltage increase is enabled via the accelerator pedal.”
Along with the fuel system upgrades, Evolution sets up the ignition to better handle the increased cylinder pressure as well. While the factory coil-on-plug system is up to the task, cooler spark plugs are a necessary upgrade.
“Heat range and gap are also important considerations. We use NGK Iridium spark plugs that are one heat range colder (PN 6510) for all boosted Coyotes up to 16-17 pounds of boost without any issue,” Fred explained. “On this particular vehicle with 8-10 pounds of boost, we gapped them at .028-inch using a feeler gauge for the best accuracy.”
While all that hardware is key to making power, it is worthless on a modern car without a custom calibration to bring the combination and the factory powertrain control module into a harmonious marriage.
“The calibration is extremely critical,” he added. “This car wasn’t just tuned for WOT, it was tuned for drivability, reliability and power in that particular order. That’s the way Lund Racing does it and the main reason we use its tuning.”
As regular readers know, Lund Racing dialed in the naturally aspirated combination on this car. The tuner also has experience calibrating high-powered EcoBoost Mustangs like UPR Products’ record-setting S550. That means its calibrators have experience with direct injection.
The combination of direct and port injection actually is something I have been looking forward to. — Jon Lund II, Lund Racing
“The combination of direct and port injection actually is something I have been looking forward to. I’m accustomed to the EcoBoost platform that only has direct injection and when we need more fuel, we add auxiliary port injection. To get the EcoBoost PCM to play nice with that requires a lot of time and some ‘hack-arounds’ to the fuel model to keep the PCM happy since it doesn’t have any control over the auxiliary port injection,” Jon Lund II, Lund Racing told us. “The 2018 GT PCM, however, has full control over the port injection and direct injection and it has a blending logic. It’s actually very simple and refreshingly easy to understand. Knowing what I know from the EcoBoost and my strategy developed for calibrating it, I was able to apply that same strategy to the 2018 and it’s smooth sailing to control the blend and keep everything happy.”
To flash the factory Tricor TC-298 PCM in the latest Mustang, he turned to SCT Performance’s most modern handheld tuning device. It is internet-connected and able to handle the 2018+ Mustang’s processor.
The SCT BDX is required to flash 2018 PCM over the X4 because the X4 is not a device that SCT is supporting for the 2018,” he explained. “As far as us tuning with it, it was the first available handheld flash device for the 2018, so we chose to take advantage of that and use it!”
Of course experience with the engine and the ability to flash the PCM are only two of the pieces to the puzzle. The logic controlling the latest 10-speed automatic transmission is far more complex than the programming that controlled the last-gen 6R80 six-speed auto.
“The 10R80 is definitely something a typical Mustang owner won’t be used to. It feels very exotic. I’m almost conditioned to want less gear changes! The constant shifting to help keep it in peak torque at part throttle is odd at first, but then exhilarating when you look down at the acceleration of the speedo,” Jon said. “While the feel of the trans is something to get used to, the calibration side is also. There’s skip shifting that can be programmed in or programmed out to keep the number of shifts down depending on how it’s affecting driver feel. There are four more upshifts and downshifts to be concerned about over the 6R80.”
“There’s also new logic for defining when it downshifts based on deceleration rate. The complexity of the shift schedule is just scratching the surface as there is so much more going on that can be calibrated,” Jon added. “Determining exactly what needs to be adjusted versus guessing is the challenge. As I touched on in your last story, this is where ‘intentional calibration’ practices are absolutely necessary. Changing too much at once or unnecessary items could easily ruin the drivability of the vehicle.”
For a street car like Fred’s 2018 Mustang GT the drivability is nearly as important as the performance. This means touching on just about every aspect of the calibration to make the moving parts work as a team.
Even though it’s a centrifugal supercharger, it still generates more torque earlier in the RPM range. — Jon Lund II, Lund Racing
“As mentioned already, the fuel model is modified to blend in more port injection to keep the direct injection system happy. Other areas modified are the Airflow Model (Mass Airflow, Speed Density, and Variable Cam Timing) and the Torque Model (Torque Calculation Tables, Driver Demand, and Torque Limits). We’re also modifying the transmission calibration on the 10R80 to better complement driver feel with the added torque output from the supercharger,” Jon detailed.
“Even though it’s a centrifugal supercharger, it still generates more torque earlier in the RPM range, so it requires modifying the rate of throttle angle increase versus pedal position as well as what RPM points it needs to change to the next gear to keep it in optimal torque for that pedal position. It’s typically personal preference per the driver. Ford engineers have documented this, and we have discussed with some of them how to best integrate this research and development practice. Ever wonder why Ford engineers are actually driving the vehicles on the road before they release them? This is why. It’s a very subjective R&D process with driver feel,” he added.
Of course the type of supercharger influences the calibration process as well. A screw or roots blower will have much different needs than a centrifugal unit.
“Centrifugal superchargers versus turbochargers versus positive-displacement blowers all have different drivability characteristics. Centrifugal and turbo setups typically are similar in their part throttle areas, so they tune similar in that respect,” Jon said. “As you start rolling into boost, the turbo setup is going to make more torque over a centrifugal so it requires some items of the driver demand and transmission shift schedules to better complement it. At wide-open throttle, turbo setups typically require different cam timing than supercharger setups. We run a different flavor of cam timing between centrifugal, turbo, and positive-displacement setups to optimize power and drivability.”
The car drives like stock, but with a lot more power. — Fred Cook, Evolution Performance
Apparently all that effort resulted in just the kind of car we would want to drive. A car that is docile in everyday mode but ready to rip when your foot hits the floor.
On the Dyno
When we last checked in on Evolution Performance’s 2018 Mustang GT it put down a whopping 501.49 horsepower and 462.35 lb-ft of torque in naturally aspirated form. That was courtesy of a few select bolt-ons, E85 in the tank, and a custom calibration from Lund Racing. Topping off that stout combination with a ProCharger P-1X delivered some huge gains. With 8 pounds of boost and a Lund Racing 93-octane tune onboard, the ProCharger delivered peak-to-peak gains of 188.78 horsepower and 73.95 lb-ft of torque. Moving up to VP 109-octane fuel at the same boost level elevated the output by another 58.5 horsepower and 23.14 lb-ft at the wheels. Raising the boost by just .6 pounds tacked on another 20.87 horsepower and 11.71 for an impressive final tally of 768.44 horsepower and 571.15 lb-ft at the tire.
And, not only does it have great manners, this car now makes some impressive power. It put down well over 770 horsepower to the rear wheels while burning 109-octane unleaded fuel; its pump gas numbers were impressive as well.
Next up is a host of suspension and drivetrain mods to ready this project for the quarter-mile when the weather warms in Pennsylvania, so keep your eyes peeled for more from this impressive pony.