Why the Ford Mustang EcoBoost S550 Is an Underrated Tuner Car

Fans have always cast a dark cloud looming over the S550 Mustang EcoBoost, despite strong sales since its debut in 2015. This is rooted in the fact that it’s not a V8, or even a V6 Mustang. Instead, it has a much smaller 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under its big, muscular hood. But since this is a Mustang, and Ford knows what’s going on when it comes to modern performance tuning, the addition of a turbocharger provides a new opportunity to change that displacement wrinkle and make it a real performance beast in its own right.

That’s why fans shouldn’t be turned off by the EcoBoost’s presence on the pony car badge, and instead realize that there are some solid ways to modify it. Not only handling and grip can be improved, engine performance can also be improved. In any case, the EcoBoost engine trims about 200 pounds from the front of the car compared to the GT equipped with a 5.0-liter V8. It makes a huge difference in terms of steering feel, turn-in and overall agility. Let’s go over some of these options and discuss why having fewer four cylinders and less than half the displacement of the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 isn’t a bad thing at all.

Make It Stick

There’s no better indication that the Mustang EcoBoost can cram so much rubber under its fenders than the 265/40/19 tires included in the EcoBoost 2022 High Performance Package with the EcoBoost Handling Package. That’s a lot of rubber for 332-350 horsepower (depending on the upgrade package from the factory), especially when it only has 3,532 pounds (when equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox) to push forward. This means higher cornering speeds, shorter braking distances and an overall more stable ride. More grip is always more fun, and oversteer is still an issue.

According to enthusiasts and websites that specialize in wheel and tire fitting, these cars can fit up to 305/30/20 on 20X10.5 wheels with standard suspension, which is quite frankly huge. Though, it looks like tires with a width of 275 on diameter wheels closer to stock, on 18X9 or 19X9 wheels, are more common among enthusiasts. One of the regular players offering popular 200-treadwear tires, like the Falken with the Azenis RT660 or the Advan A052 from Yokohama, makes it in this size.

Then, aftermarket suspension that allows for wider wheels and a more performance-oriented alignment with a more negative camber can make installation much easier and prevent tires from rubbing against the inside of the fenders.

Reducing Body Roll and Braking Distance

Since the Ford Mustang is one of the oldest fan signage ever, with the S550 generation having been around since 2015, there are seemingly endless aftermarket suspension options available. It helps that Ford provides it with MacPherson double-ball-joint independent front suspension and integral link independent rear suspension. All things being equal, that means more grip adjustment and alignment than the previous generation live axle and a much more basic MacPherson stand design. I can attest to the fact that the stock S550 EcoBoost Mustang with the EcoBoost Handling Package is a lot of fun around the corner, so the aftermarket setup has a very good base to work with.

Ford offers a factory-upgraded suspension in the EcoBoost Handling Package, but a similar or better setup can be achieved in the aftermarket fairly easily too. Especially if someone is buying a used four-cylinder Mustang with low specs and wants to emulate the quality of this package. Used or new OEM parts from high-spec models can also be easily swapped for low-end models, such as brake calipers and upgraded rotors.

Kevin Gray, an enthusiast who regularly tracks his EcoBoost, shares some cool insights into how the Mustang’s EcoBoost handles with adaptive dampers.

“MagneRide is great stock,” he said in an Instagram message. “It can be customized with DSC [Dynamic Suspension Control] controller that has a special tone. The off-the-shelf tone for the Mustang isn’t great, but the professional tone for the suspension from Race Data Engineering is a great choice, and [after having one installed on my car] handle it wonderfully now.”

That being said, it has to be said that trying to swap out the MagneRide adaptive dampers for a car that doesn’t come with them would be an uphill task, and finding quality passive dampers (Bilstein, Koni, etc.) from the aftermarket would be a lot easier. move.

The aftermarket has spring and sway bar kits, improved dampers, coilovers, brake upgrades, and even aerodynamic components. Retailers like CJ Pony Parts and Steeda have guides that cover all of this too, as does GtMotorsports.org. Additionally, there are endless sources of prime setup information on forums, such as at the aptly named TrackMustangsOnline.com.

Impact strength

See up close where the magic happens.

In the lowest specs, which are essentially Hertz rental car status conversions, the S550 Mustang EcoBoost makes 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet or torque. Jumping into the newer optional Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package, those numbers expand to 332 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That kind of power isn’t something to scoff at and it’s plenty enough to propel the 3.532-3.642 pound coupe forward at enthusiastic speed.

But for those who refuse to stock up on their car’s power output, there are a myriad of options backed by the EcoBoost’s turbocharged design. Ford offers performance boosts direct from dealer service departments legal in all 50 states, and the aftermarket hosts a variety of tuners that can squeeze extra power from these powerful four cylinders.

Certain mods are also more important than others, especially when it comes to increasing boost and using fuels with a higher ethanol content, according to Gray.

“Blow-off valves, internal wastegate and even cold air intake are not required, nor is the downpipe.” gray said. “All this stuff just smooths out the power band and gets a number that the butt dyno won’t notice.”

“…Some of the key mods are the front mount intercooler, catch can, and a Cobb access port with an E30 tone. If you can’t get your hands on the E30, look at the water-methanol injection. This setup will pull the stock Mustang GT and suck it around the corner. For me , the best thing is that it’s very quick and easy to put out good power. Plus, it’s great on the road and the track.”

He also notes that the factory exhaust system, especially the one we get from the EcoBoost High Performance Package with the EcoBoost Handling Package, sounds really good from the factory, and I agree. Much of this is echoed by the tuners themselves. Jason Rooney of AntSpec has spent hours under the hood of this spry Ford.

“The engine itself has a lot of potential and a fairly solid stock, [but] I find that a lot of people try to run too much thrust on them,” Rooney said. “With a good intake and front mount intercooler, I find around 24 psi is where you’ll find the best reliable power at 91 octane. … With a mix E30, you can push it to 25 psi, but then you run the risk of hardware failure with minimal returns, in my opinion. As with direct injection turbo cars, they like ethanol in terms of power, only the cam driven pump is a problem at higher ethanol levels.”

The EcoBoost ECU is also a bit more complicated than usual, which makes sense considering there’s a lot going on to draw so much power from such a small shift, as Rooney reports.

“It’s a very complex ECU, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to introduce the gremlin to minor driving abilities and other odd behavior,” he said. “It took me a while to fully understand the boost control system and the logic it uses, as it is based on pressure hitting the wastegate, not a target based system as is usually the case.” Rooney also noted that the ECU had improved the target, but it was “more nebulous than most other systems.”

Why People Should Learn to Stop Worrying About Stigma and Love Its Improvement

It was forever implanted in most people’s brains that the Mustang was the same as the V8. But history has shown us that this was not always the case, including some of the amazing creations in professional motorsports long ago. And now, with all the neat developments in squeezing the very respectable power out of the mid-sized 2.3-liter EcoBoost, and taking advantage of healthy weight loss up front, it’s definitely something to celebrate rather than pooh-pooh.

Plus, the EcoBoost will return significantly better fuel economy than V8-equipped trim, which I’ve historically never cared about, but lately I think we’ve all seen more and more on the plus side. It’s also still a rear-wheel-drive sports car with available manual transmission, dressed up in a very handsome and muscular body, which should be celebrated in an era of our enthusiast offerings that are getting rarer as time goes by.

For more information on the S550 Mustang in general, check out our sister site Car Bible for a comprehensive guide.

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