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Can a 'High Performance' 4cyl Mustang tempt you from a V8?

Seemingly bored Ford employees swap a Focus RS engine into a 'Stang

Published: 15 Apr 2019

Like so many great performance cars, it started with a naughty engine transplant. Meet the Ford Mustang Ecoboost High Performance Package, a four-cylinder ‘Stang with a chunky power upgrade that appears to be the of an errant Focus RS engine and some bored Blue Oval workers.

“Following an experiment with a Focus RS engine swap, the Mustang team leveraged Ford’s quickening product development times to accelerate and complete the 2.3L High Performance Package in under 10 months,” Ford proudly exclaims.

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Thus the cheapest, 2.3-litre ‘Stang, which possesses 286bhp in UK spec, now produces almost 330bhp. Still not quite as much as that RS (and further still from a Mountuned RS), but good for 0-60mph in less than 5.0secs nonetheless.

It’s been quite a project, too, with members of Ford’s US team flying over to the Valencia plant where the company’s 2.3s are made to help specify a whole new iteration of it, with a new cylinder head and larger turbo.

For a relatively modest power gain – around 20bhp if you compare it to a US-spec Ecoboost – it seems rather a lot of work, but its engineers claim the new breadth of its power delivery is more impressive than some slightly larger numbers on a spec sheet.

Complementing its bigger lungs are some reinforced suspension components, larger brakes and an active quad-tip exhaust, while you can opt for the High Performance Package with both six-speed manual and ten-speed automatic gearboxes. There are blacked out grilles and splitters and a light smattering of High Performance badges to ensure onlookers know it’s no ordinary four-cylinder ‘Stang passing by.

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Whether this translates into a tacit admission the non-V8 Mustang is a bit meh or it’s simply engineers doing some good old fashioned engineering, we’re not sure. Could a lift in power, noise and poise stop you from defaulting to the full-strength 5.0-litre, though?

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