Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
March 1, 2013
Ford engineers protected a spot in the Coyote cylinder head to add the direct injector necessary to Ecoboost our beloved 5.0 V-8, so the thought of direct-injection has been there since the beginning.

As the program manager for all Ford’s V-8s, Mike Harrison told our Tom Wilson when the Coyote debuted: “I’m personally worried that when it launches people will think, ‘Oh, doesn’t it have DI on it? You know, it’s not relevant.’ I’m a bit worried about that, but I hope the metrics will speak for themselves—because we’re delivering DI-like performance. We’re trying to leave the impression it is fully competitive without it.”

We’d have to say that history will be on Mike’s side. The Coyote’s performance has proven more than competitive. Throw its kissing cousin, the Road Runner, in the mix and it’s been more than competitive. Yet, time marches on and our world yearns for technology to make things better. With fuel ecomony and emissions standards looming, it only seems natural that the way to make more from these glorious engines is to add direct injection and—with any luck— turbocharging.

As I type this it’s just days before the yearly aftermarket orgy known as the Specialty Equipment Market Association show. Revealed during the SEMA shopw was a turbocharged version of the Cobra Jet Mustang. It was not shown as a production model, rather a concept, but I think we know where this is headed. Remember how Ford developed the Boss on the track before putting it into production...

Despite its traditional fuel system, turbo racer tease on the big stage at SEMA provides a direct injection of hype to carry us through till the introduction of the next Mustang. It’s a great strategy from a marketing and engineering standpoint, but since we know our history we can get a clearer idea of what might be coming.

As if it was going to be tougher to sell 2014 Mustangs as the hype builds, there will be even more reason for the early adopters to hold off. Perhaps Ford will have a specialty model up its sleeve to get the most out of the outgoing car. Either way, there is excitement in our future. Along these lines, Brand X recently dolled up its legacy push-rod small-block with direct injection, stop-start, and variable cam timing.

With government and competitive pressures in play, it seems all but inevitable that direct injection will join our Mustang party, and we have strong reason to believe that turbos will bring Ecoboost along as a Plus 2. The prevailing theory is that the new car will bow with something like an Ecoboost 3.0-liter kicking out 300 hp. You might even call such a car an SVO. We’ll see.

The good news is that based on our experience in the SHO, Escape, and the glorious Focus ST, Ecoboost is a fun and effective merger of mileage and muscle. I haven’t seen a downside to it other than it hasn’t been applied to a V-8 yet. There is no lag to the little turbos. They come on early and stay to the power peak, and if you stay out of the boost, the engines sip fuel. Moreover, the performance upside seems pretty promising.

I have long believed that the NA 5.0 would stick around like the pushrod 5.0 did in 1994. However, as new car gets closer and closer, I’m beginning to think that a naturally aspirated, direct-injection RoadRunner might be the GT’s initial powerplant, and that the Ecoboost might hold off until a special edition or SVT variant of the new Mustang.

Much like what you’ve seen on the Internet lately, this is wishful thinking on my part. It’s an educated guess, but a guess all the same. One thing is certain, when we do get Ecoboost in the Mustang, it will be the start of another exciting time for Mustang performance, so I’m looking forward to it.