Mark Gearhart
January 29, 2019

Coyote Crate

Pictured from left: the Boss 302, 2018 GT, Cobra Jet, and GT350 intake manifolds. Who will come out on top?

The Blue Oval world is buzzing with the debate over the Coyote V8: what's the baddest intake manifold, the 2018 GT or Cobra Jet? We were lucky enough to nab one of the first production Gen 3 (2018-up) Coyote crate engines from Ford Performance (PN M-6007-M50C). Coming in around $1,000 more than the previous 2015-'17 (Gen 2) Coyote crate engine, the Gen 3 is worth every penny. Direct injection with supplemental port injection, 12:1 compression ratio, better flowing heads, and a superior intake manifold makes for a combination that produces way more than advertised.

All testing for this story was done with Ford Performance’s newest crate engine, the third-generation Coyote V8 (PN: M-6007-M50C). It’s pulled right off the same assembly line that builds the 2018-up production Mustang GT engines.

In our first dyno test [https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ford-5-0l-coyote-dyno-test-cai-e85-tune-makes-532-hp/], we were able to produce 532.5 hp and 451.1 lb-ft of torque with only an air intake and E85 tune through the stock exhaust manifolds. We were duly impressed, but we still wanted to know how previous Coyote intakes stacked up; was the newest version of the Coyote intake really the best? Let's take a look at what else is available.

Grouped together for the purposes of this test are the GT350 and 2018 intake manifolds. The predecessor to the GT350 manifold is the new 2018-up Mustang GT variant. A considerable amount of time went into designing the 2018 Coyote intake through CFD (computational fluid dynamics) using an internal Ford tool called 1D3 analysis.

2018 Coyote & GT350

2018 GT Manifold

Gen 1 Gen 3
Runner length 12.178 inches 16.141 inches
Runner cross section (at bell mouth) 2.81 in. 3.875 in.
Total intake volume 569.034 ci 665.158 ci

GT350 Manifold

Runner length 16.141 inches
Runner cross section (at bell mouth) 4.185 in
Total intake volume 671.261 ci

Before the Gen 3 Coyote existed, there was one manifold that reigned supreme over all others: the Cobra Jet. Engineered from the Boss 302 manifold that came to life seven years ago, technology has evolved substantially since then. The 2018 became the first Ford composite intake manifold to use hot gas welding in place of vibration welding, yielding a lighter part with no contamination. Another improvement came in the form of charge motion control valves (CMCV) with a stainless-steel shaft, incorporating the shaft sensor into shaft actuators.

Charge motion control valves (CMCV), an evolution of Ford’s IMRCs, are designed to aid with emissions and low-speed idle, but we would like to see a company come out with a dynamic motor that could adjust port velocity over engine speed. The design folds flat to the manifold’s wall so it doesn’t impede high-speed airflow.

"A considerable amount of time went into designing the 2018 Coyote intake manifold through computational fluid dynamics using an internal Ford tool called 1D3 analysis," says David Born Ford Performance Parts engineer. "1D3 is a one-dimensional engine model coupled to a 3D CFD model, which allows for the CFD to operate like there's a real engine running it, versus using a steady state CFD. In the 1D world they can change the dimensions very easily and if it looks good, run an analysis in the 3D world.

From left to right: GT350 “roval” 87mm throttle body, 2018 GT stock 80mm throttle body, and Ford Performance’s dual 65mm Cobra Jet throttle body (PN: M-9926-CJ65). A common misconception is that you need a big, honkin’ throttle body to support the air flow demands of the Coyote. While a bigger throttle body is worth a few extra hp, the biggest gains come from a properly designed intake manifold.

Ford engineers took the lessons they learned from the GT350 manifold and applied it to the 2018, which included lowered runners for a low-profile hood, up tilted throttle body for fitment, reduced bell mouth opening cross sectional area for better torque and reduced overall volume to fit the smaller 5-liter displacement. "The runner is wider than taller, which is where you'd prefer to have its area—to follow the wall instead of being up and above the wall.

Here’s an overlay comparing the 2015-’17 (FR3E), 2018-up (JR3E), and GT350 (GR3E) long-runner intake manifolds. Ford engineers took the lessons they learned from the GT350 manifold and applied it to the 2018, which included lowered runners for a low-profile hood, up tilted throttle body for fitment, reduced bell mouth opening cross-sectional area for better torque, and reduced overall volume to fit the smaller 5-liter displacement. The runner is wider than taller, which is where you’d prefer to have its area—to follow the wall instead of being up and above the wall.

"The GT350 CMCV manifold was tuned for high rpm and needed to rev to 8,250 rpm. The runner length for a 2015-'17 manifold was designed for a 7,000rpm peak, so the runners are effectively shorter and larger in diameter. That whole program came together very fast and the manifold was effective. Also going from an 80mm to 87mm throttle body was a big help." Born notes that the 87mm throttle body wasn't needed on the 2018 GT manifold to hit its numbers.

Cobra Jet with Ford Performance Dual TB

Runner volume (X8) 30.417 ci
Runner length 9.327 inches
Smallest runner cross section 2.522 in. (near injector)
Runner cross section at bell mouth 3.378 in
Plenum volume 414.061 ci
Total intake volume 657.397 ci

Boss 302

Runner volume (X8) 29.690 ci
Runner length 9.327 inches
Smallest runner cross section 2.415 in. (near injector)
Runner cross section at bell mouth 3.378 in
Plenum volume 373.292 ci
Total intake volume 610.812 ci

Almost everything is born from evolution. Ford's 2018 manifold was modeled off the GT350 just how the Cobra Jet was derived from the Boss 302 manifold. "The runner design for the Gen-1 GT, Boss, and Cobra Jet manifolds all started the same," explains Born. "The length was adjusted from the GT down to a shorter length for the higher-revving Boss engine. Ideally, we wanted the runners on the Boss to be a bit longer to lower the peak engine speed (the manifold is tuned for a 7,750 rpm power peak), but packaging the carryover GT fuel rails and the assembly of the rails meant we couldn't push the runner length and the plenum out any further than we did."

Even being over seven years old, the Boss 302 is a helluva intake manifold, and our opinion, the best looking of the four. Our 2018’s throttle body swaps over easily and we bolted the manifold down in a matter of minutes. We continued to use the same JLT cold air intake that was used on the GT350 and 2018 manifolds.

The Boss 302 intake manifold was Ford Performance's first manifold offered for the Coyote platform, which debuted on the Roadrunner 5.0 engine in the 2012-'13 Boss 302. It was designed to give the factory-fortified Boss 302 another 1,000 rpm of operating range for a more dynamic powerband when road racing. Again, the plenum design is quite similar to the GT, but flipped over; if you were to straighten the GT runners so they fed straight in to the plenum, you'd see that the design is pretty similar to the Boss.

The Cobra Jet intake manifold has been long regarded as the best Ford Performance manifold on the market. But now with the 2018 manifold available, how does it compare? Six years of evolution and technology is a dramatic difference in time but does the Cobra Jet still have what it takes to keep the top spot?

"The Cobra Jet used the same runner design as the Boss, with the exception being the reduced bump around the injector pocket," says Born. "The Cobra Jet uses a different manufacturing process which allowed the bump to be reduced, which in turn reduces the flow losses around the bump and provides an increase in performance." The Cobra Jet is really just the Boss manifold with a dual-bore inlet added and the strut tower brace recess removed, with the aforementioned having a negligible impact on performance.

While Ford’s discontinued GT500 mono-blade might make 1-2 more peak horsepower, it’s not designed for naturally aspirated street use. The M-9926-CJ65 dual 65mm bore throttle body is the way to go when it comes to optimizing drivability. Ford Performance includes a harness with the Cobra Jet manifold (shown) but we opted for JMS Chip’s ThrottleMax plug-and-play adaptor.

With the combination of a huge air inlet and short runners, the Cobra Jet manifold will show the best peak gains out of any Ford Performance manifold. We opted for the Ford Performance twin 65mm Cobra Jet throttle body (PN: M-9926-CJ65); there is another option for a single-bore Super Cobra Jet throttle body (PN: M-9926-SCJ), which has been discounted and not recommended for naturally aspirated use. Both throttle bodies come with an adapter pigtail that will swap pin-for-pin with the stock throttle body connector, or you can use a plug-and-play harness like what's offered by JMS Chip, which we also used to convert the analog to digital signal on our GT350 throttle body.

Enough of the jibber-jabber. How'd the manifolds perform? We know sharp-eyed readers will ask: What's more important, peak or average horsepower? That will depend on how you use your Coyote, so we've included both figures in our test data. Next up with our Gen 3 Coyote crate series: some bigger camshafts from Comp Cams!

Radium Engineering manufactures these bitchin’ fuel rails that are designed for all Coyote generations. Our kit also included direct fit fuel lines for the 2018 Mustang GT, as well as Radium’s pulse dampeners.
Eddie Rios of Addiction Motorsports handled our tuning with the use of HP Tuners software; Steve Brule of Westech Performance made the dyno pulls on our Coyote. During our tests we adjusted the cam timing for optimal horsepower and reported our optimized numbers from each manifold.
With only a JLT cold-air intake, Kooks 1 7/8-inch diameter long-tube headers, and E85 fuel, our Coyote made an extremely impressive 549.8hp and 472.1 lb-ft of torque. Could any of these manifolds top this?
First up was our GT350 intake manifold. Revisions between the GT350 and 2018 GT platform kept us from using the CMCVs, which had to be locked out. JMS’s ThrottleMax provided a plug-and-play installation for the “roval” throttle body, but it must be calibrated in the software as well. Lastly, JLT provided a silicone adaptor for the larger throttle body.
At only a few spots throughout the pull does the GT350 match the 2018 manifold. At 543.6 hp and 464.3 lb-ft, the GT350 is 6.2 hp and 7.8 lb-ft down at peak numbers. When it comes to looking at average horsepower across the curve, the 2018 still wins out with a 4.8 hp and 5.2 lb-ft advantage
The 2018 outperformed the Boss manifold across the curve, so we are comparing the GT350 in this instance. The GT350 ended up with a 12.4hp and 3.3 lb-ft peak advantage and a 3.5hp and 2.6 lb-ft better average.
Ford Performance also supplied their cold-air intake that’s designed specifically for the Cobra Jet setup in a 2011-’14 GT. We received one of the first updated manifolds with the new top lids. No other changes have been made to the manifold outside of the new logo.
The 2018 production intake manifold reigns supreme when it comes to peak numbers, up 4.3 hp and 3.4 lb-ft. Though what might be more important for some people is the 600-plus rpm increase in the powerband, or that the Cobra Jet does make much better average horsepower—25.5 hp more than the 2018, but down 9.4 lb-ft of torque. “But the motor makes more power at 3,500 than it does at 3,000 rpm.” Yes, that is true, but widening the power curve also has an improvement on the effective powerband. When averaging the power from 3,000 - 8,000 rpm on the Cobra Jet, it only effects the horsepower by 0.1 hp. So what do you think is more important, peak or average power? Stay tuned for more 2018 Coyote engine dyno testing here at Car Craft!

On The Dyno

Intake: Peak HP: Peak TQ: Av. HP: Av. TQ: PN:
2018 549.8 472.1 438.3 441.5 JR3Z-9424-A
Cobra Jet 545.5 468.7 466.8 432.1 M-9424-M50CJA
Boss 302 531.2 461.0 430.0 433.7 M-9424-M50BR
GT350 543.6 464.3 433.5 436.3 M-9424-M52

* Boss, 2018, GT350 averages from 3,000 - 7,500 rpm; Cobra Jet 3,500 - 8,000 rpm

All testing for this story was done with Ford Performance’s newest crate engine, the third-generation Coyote V8 (PN: M-6007-M50C). It’s pulled right off the same assembly line that builds the 2018-up production Mustang GT engines.

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