Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatures
First Drive: Shelby GT EcoBoost - Big Bang from a Small Engine!
It’s been well documented that Carroll Shelby always said his favorite car was “the next one.” And when it comes to Shelby in 2015 (well, almost 2016), the next one is the Shelby GT EcoBoost. While most Mustang enthusiasts are floored by the 750-plus horsepower Super Snake, Shelby has now put its touches on the newest member of the pony lineup, the EcoBoost Mustang.
“The Shelby GT EcoBoost combines all the aesthetic elements people come to expect from Shelby,” said Gary Schechner of Shelby American. “No other brand has as rich or long of a history as Shelby American, and now we’re bringing that to the 2015-2016 EcoBoost with the Shelby GT package.”
Like the V8 version, the Shelby GT EcoBoost is packed with options that enhance performance and styling. Horsepower is bumped to 330 and both stick and automatic transmissions are offered. We drove the auto version on the street and on track at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch outside of Las Vegas and we came away impressed.
The 2.3L turbo engine gets the Ford Mustang going in a hurry and the tune, plus Ford Performance exhaust gives it a louder growl. Shelby tapped Ford Performance for the suspension as well, which lowers the Stang and gives it spirited handling. Being lighter than the V8 GT, the EcoBoost Mustang lets drivers get very aggressive when carving corners. And with optional Wilwood brakes (6-piston in front and 4 in the rear) you can attack corners, brake extremely late and snap the car towards the apex.
On track we used all 330 horsepower on the straights and on corner exit. Unfortunately, the auto prevented us from keeping the engine in the sweet spot and off-exit acceleration was lacking. With a manual, we’d be able to keep the revs up and accelerate harder off the corners. Still, the peppy four-cylinder turbo came into its own as the revs climbed and it pulled nicely to redline. It’s no match for high-horsepower V8s, but in the right hands, this Mustang will haul the mail and you’ll show your tail lights to drivers with much more power.
This is truly a package made for a tight road course or a twisty canyon road. The nose feels ultra-light and steering response is excellent. Combine this with the enhanced S550 rear suspension, which complements the front, and you get an overall feel that is neutral and response nicely to your inputs. In fact, the Mustang never oversteered or understeered the entire time on track.
The EcoBoost Mustang is making its mark with enthusiasts everywhere and it’s really cool to see the folks in Vegas recognizing there’s a market for four-cylinder turbo performance, however, we’d like to drive one with about 350 horsepower.
Ultimately, we found the Stang to be quiet and comfortable on the street, and with the auto it was nice to select “Drive” and go. The Shelby GT EcoBoost is a fun, sporty package that adds a high level of performance to base EcoBoost Stang. Plus, it’s economical and you won’t break the bank on insurance. Like all Shelby products, the option list is a mile long, so you can accessorize and personalize your Shelby to fit your style and desired performance level. You can even add options like race seats, roll cage and harness should you want to spend most of your time on the track.