Evan J. Smith
February 26, 2016
Photos By: Ken Miele

From the moment Ford Motor Company announced the EcoBoost Mustang, enthusiasts speculated on its performance. Would the 310hp turbo-four live up to our expectations? In many cases, yes. The reduced weight and excellent tip-in power equal enormous fun on tight mountain curves, and it even has adequate but not overwhelming straight-line power.

Surely the EcoBoost Ford Mustang has breathed life into a segment of the market that’s been lacking since 1986. And those looking for better-than-stock performance will be glad to hear the 2.3L turbo engine responds nicely to mods.

We’ve recognized that today’s enthusiasts are interested in more than just V-8 performance, and the turbocharged four-cylinder gives them an alternative. With a little work you can make your EcoStang outperform many cars, both in the quarter and the twisties.

To prove our point, we enlisted MM&FF contributor and NHRA national event winning drag racer “Yo Ken” Miele, who purchased this Black 2015 stick-equipped EcoBoost Mustang with the Premium Performance Pack. The pack comes with 3.55 gears and upgraded suspension, and Miele says the weight is roughly 3,780 pounds with driver and half a tank of fuel. He was looking to drop his elapsed times using basic mods that can be installed in his home garage.

EcoBoost Mustangs have proven worthy at the strip, with typical stock performance in the high 13s. Miele was looking to push past stock. In fact, he was so inspired to find power and quicker e.t.’s that he dove in with the mods before hitting the track.

“My first modification was a Ford Performance axle-back Touring exhaust,” says Miele. “Not so much for performance but for looks. The stock exhaust tips don’t do the car justice, especially with the Performance Pack option. I then added a Cobb tuning Access Port, which is one of the most user-friendly flash devices for the turbo Mustang. Cobb is well known in the import community and for its work on the Focus ST. Cobb has made a major investment in Ford turbo cars.

“I first used the off-the-shelf tune, which gave me a big improvement. The next modification was an aftermarket intercooler. The stock intercooler is only good for one run at the track. After that the engine gets heat-soaked and that kills power. The intercooler I choose was from Modern Automotive Performance, known as MAPerformance. It’s a quality piece. After installing the MAP intercooler I hooked up with one of the best tuners in the industry on the EcoBoost, Adman Brunson from tune+ [adamtuned.com].”

Miele uses a Cobb Access Port tuning device. Features include tune-on-the-fly, Flat-Shift, and Launch Control.

Miele continues, “To say it was a good move would be an understatement. The performance was night and day from the OTS tune. Choosing his e-tune package, you get tunes for life. It’s the best value you can get for the money. I have had over a dozen updated tunes so far, and each one is better than the last.

“Like I stated, I never ran the car when it was stock, but most are running high 13s to low 14s. On my first try at Atco Raceway I ran a 13.36 at 106 mph, and this was on street tires.”

According to Miele, traction was an issue and launch rpm was only 2,200. “I was using the Launch Control feature from the Cobb Access Port. What’s great about the Cobb AP is the features, such as what Cobb calls Flat-Foot Shifting (FFS). This feature lets you keep your right foot to the floor while shifting to maintain boost. In the olds days we use to call it powershifting. Another feature is tune-on-the-fly, and you get five tunes to choose from. You can have tunes for the street, the track, and even fuel economy for your daily commute, and they all can be changed in seconds.”

To keep the air inlet cool, Miele installed a Modern Automotive Performance intercooler. This unit is much more efficient than stock and keeps the inlet air cool without a noticeable loss in boost.

For Miele’s second track outing he eliminated the traction issue by bolting up a pair of drag radials. He also installed the Ford Performance Half-Shaft Upgrade Kit. Miele says, “It’s a must if you are going to drag race with sticky tires and a manual.”

To mount the 305/35/19 radials, he went with Ford Performance Mustang GT 19x9.5 wheels. And with Adam Brunson’s latest tune, the EcoStang popped off a quick 12.70 at 110 mph. “I was amazed at how a 2.3L can move a 3,700 pound car,” said Miele. “I couldn’t have been happier with the 12.70, but Adam said there is more in there. He told me to get race gas additive and he would make it go faster. Adam sent the latest revision for RGA and told me to mix the 32-ounce can with half a tank of 93-octane.

“It works out to about 103-104 octane. As you can see from the time slip, it went 12.17 at 113 mph. I was blown away. I can’t believe the Mustang could run that deep in the 12s with only a few modifications. Amazingly, Adam says he is not finished. He said we’re still on the safe side [of the tune] and there’s no worry about hurting the engine. Of course, tuning is crucial on any car, especially when you have a power adder.

“Adam has tuned automatic EcoBoost Mustangs using the same basic mods I have and he’s seen a best of 11.73 at 115 mph. It’s harder to get it right with the stick because there’s a fine line between spin and bog and you have to shift on point. The EcoBoost Mustang with the auto is much better for the typical drag racer, as the driveline is just about bulletproof. But we’re not done yet. With more power and the right conditions I think we can make this thing go 11s.”

Installation takes a few hours but can be done with basic tools in you home garage or driveway.
Miele’s Ecoboost Mustang looks neat in black. He has also added a few personal touches, like a blacked-out grille.
Keeping the driveline durable is a set of Ford Performance half-shafts.
Traction was enhanced with 305 Drag Radials mounted on Ford Performance wheels.