50 Mustang Fender
Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
April 9, 2014

In the past I have recounted a fateful trip to a Ford dealer with my parents. The dealer showroom in question was housed in a shopping mall, and center stage on a turntable was a red ’86 SVO. I so hoped that my mom was going to buy that car. I would soon be driving, and I pictured myself behind the wheel of that turbocharged ’Stang. In the end, she wouldn’t learn to drive a manual just so I could drive a cool car. It wasn’t meant to be.

So, even though my first Mustang love was the ’82 GT, I have a soft spot for the SVO. Despite its grand mission to bring the loving embrace of the Mustang world around a small, turbocharged engine, the SVO wasn’t the hit I thought it might be. It looked cool. It had a turbo. It had disc brakes. What it didn’t have was a 5.0-liter V-8.

Ultimately you could get a vaunted 5.0 Mustang for less than the Eurofied SVO. After a brave, three-year run, the SVO and its aero headlights took a bow before the aero-light 5.0 went on to dominate the performance world. Gas was cheap and grunt feels good, so the brave experiment didn’t pan out.

Today I am more than grateful that the 5.0-liter badge is once again a mainstay on the Mustang fender. Sure, there were some great moments during the modular era, but there’s just something about a 5.0 Mustang, right? After all, it’s the namesake of this publication, and for good reason.

That said, there’s just something that has me a little more excited about the forthcoming Ecoboost 2.3-liter four-cylinder option. Before you start writing hate mail, I’m not trying to say it will be better or faster than the 5.0-liter. I’m glad the V-8 is staying. I hope it’s for good. However, I am always interested in what’s new, and the 5.0-liter is only refreshed. The 2.3 is all-new for the Mustang.

Now as those that follow our online efforts know, my relatively new daily driver is a ’13 Focus ST with the Ecoboost 2.0-liter. For many of you, it’s a Mustang or nothing, and I get that. However, besides having a cool driver that preserves my Mustangs from the daily grind, getting an Ecoboosted car was by design. I really wanted to get a little preview of what it could be like in the Mustang.

So far, I’m loving what I’ve found. Probably most important of all for Mustang fans is that the Ecoboost engines love bolt-ons and tuning. My daily has gained great performance without losing driveability. I can only imagine that the 2.3 in the Mustang will respond in kind.

That’s really what makes this combo so intriguing. Unlike the old days when you really wanted to swim upstream if you were going to modify anything but a V-8, the Ecoboosted four-cylinder will be viable for enthusiasts that want to strike the balance between performance and economy.

Had this Mustang been out sooner, it really would have made my daily driver shopping more complicated. I have yet to own a Coyote-powered Mustang, so it would be hard to pass that up. However, as a fun daily driver, the Ecoboost Mustang will be a compelling choice.

All that said, I have yet to drive the new Mustang. Certainly the lighter four-cylinder should be a well-balanced corner-carver, but the Mustang GT is said to beat the outgoing Boss around the track. How can you not love that?

Most of us can’t help but dream about a time when these two worlds come together. We know the Coyote cylinder heads were designed to accept a direct injector from the jump. We also know what a turbo kit will do for the current 5.0. Imagine the possibilities.

For the moment I’ll have to enjoy a rumbling exhaust in one car and a blow-off-valve whoosh in another. Maybe one day they’ll make beautiful music together. When it comes right down to it, it’s just great that we will have two legitimate performance Mustangs to choose from on the S550 menu.