Michael Galimi
October 1, 2008

Turbochargers-the mystique has finally worn off, and this power adder is becoming popular in the Mustang ranks. It has grown so much that Turbonetics decided it was time to design and engineer a kit to fit Ford's popular performance car. The company decided to use the S197 Mustang V-8 platform for its entry into the kit market.

Turbonetics has long been known to produce turbo systems for the sport-compact market, as well as individual turbochargers, wastegates, and intercoolers, which Mustang enthusiasts use in custom systems. This kit is the first of what will probably be many different Mustang-specific turbo systems from the manufacturer. We hear rumblings that a V-6 system for S197 cars will be on its way soon.

The Turbonetics S197 turbo system comes complete with every nut and bolt, and even a tuner with a custom SCT tune on board. Installation requires some cutting to reroute the exhaust, but it's nothing an average mechanic couldn't handle easily. We had the system installed by the crew at Dez Racing (Seekonk, Massachusetts), and it took them about a full working day to complete it. The car we used was a mostly stock '07 Mustang GT, save for mufflers. Turbonetics offers two different systems, one for '05-'06 Mustang GTs and another for '07-'08 Stangs. The main difference is the position of the MAF sensor and tuning. The car will not run properly if the wrong kit is installed.

The tuning feature is not included in other turbo systems but is standard in the Turbonetics kit. According to the company's marketing director, Tyler Tanaka, "Jhame Peters and the R&D staff at Turbonetics have conquered the new generation drive-by-wire. It certainly wasn't easy, and countless hours were spent on the dyno, the street, and the track, but they got it all sorted out." An SCT tuner is supplied in the kit with the custom Turbonetics tune loaded up, much like the centrifugal blower kits offered for '05-newer cars.

The rest of the kit is really nice with stainless steel exhaust pipes, a Spearco air-to-air intercooler, wastegate, a dual-ball bearing turbocharger, and a highly detailed instruction manual. In fact, the R&D staff should be highly commended for its efforts in producing the most detailed instruction manual this author and the Dez Racing shop have ever seen. It is definitely clear, simple, and so detailed that even a first-time installer knows exactly what to expect. Getting past the instructions, the typical tools and patience are required, as is a Sawzall for cutting the exhaust.

Turbonetics includes a 60mm turbocharger in the kit, and it's the perfect little boost-maker, up until 550-or-so horsepower. We really liked the responsiveness of the unit, as well as the cool swoosh noise the pop-off valve makes when you get off the throttle. The potential power is virtually undetectable at part throttle and normal driving conditions. The hottest topic in the news has been the high cost of fuel, which almost doesn't even factor into adding this performance enhancer. In fact, fuel mileage wasn't even affected-until you get aggressive with the throttle application. Then, like all power adders, fuel mileage concerns go by the wayside, as performance becomes the dominant agenda. The burst of boost is definitely worth the extra fuel usage.

The pipe with the opening facing upward is where the turbo mounts to the exhaust system. The pipe above it is the dump tube.

We encountered one little glitch during this story, though. Every once in awhile, there's a vehicle that doesn't like the MAF sensor placement, and the computer gets a funny reading. Turbonetics and Mike Dezotell of Dez Racing don't know why, but the quick fix (as per Turbonetics' instructions) was to add a screen that the company sent over to us. The screen straightens the airflow in order for the MAF sensor to get a clean reading. It was a simple screen available at any hardware store. As simple as it was, the thing worked, and the troubles cleared up. The problem we encountered was a rough idle, horrible driveability, and overall poor performance due to the bad MAF sensor reading. At first, we were troubleshooting the problem, thinking the source was the tune, which wasn't the case. Then we thought the wrong pipe was installed, so we e-mailed a photo of the inlet pipe to Turbonetics, but it turned out OK. The straightened air remedied the problem, and we were out having fun with the '07 Stang in no time.

As we moved forward with the install, we were amazed to see that a fuel-pump upgrade was not included in the kit. However, as Dez mentioned, at moderate boost levels, fuel consumption shouldn't tax the stock pump too badly. Most people are used to the supercharger thought process and add a second pump or dual Ford GT pumps. The blower requires more fuel because it takes power to turn the supercharger. The turbo uses expanding exhaust gases to turn the turbine. With a blower, you're using the crankshaft to turn the impeller. A blower engine will always have more fuel consumption at similar power levels than a turbo-that's just a fact of life.

A larger set of fuel injectors is included (39 psi units) in the kit, and is more than enough to supply fuel if boost isn't jumped too high. If you plan on turning up the power or utilizing a larger turbo, we suggest looking into a dual Ford GT pump combo, or check out Lethal Performance's fancy new complete fuel-system setup.

On the dyno, the car pulled the Dynojet chassis dyno to a reading of 271 rwhp and 295 rwtq. Not bad for a stock S197, but with the addition of 8.5 psi of boost in the intake manifold, we were about to see how much better the car could be. The turbo-enhanced late-model was wrung out on the dyno, and it produced an impressive 434 rwhp and 461 rwtq. That was a 163hp gain over stock, a great increase in power that's available whenever you drop the hammer.