Ford Mustang Ecoboost Revo Stage 1: Review


For a significant number of people a Mustang won't be a Mustang with anything less than a V8. This is entirely reasonable, given the whole romance of the muscle car is inextricably linked to such engines. On the face of it the fact you can now buy a right-hand drive Mustang GT with a 416hp 5.0-litre V8 for well under £40K would make it a no-brainer, especially when it's just a £4K price walk from the 2.3-litre four-cylinder Ecoboost version. 

The wonders of a small suspension drop for stance!
The wonders of a small suspension drop for stance!
But maybe you just can't reconcile yourself - or your finances - with the idea of a 5.0-litre engine in this day and age. Maybe you like the idea of a Mustang-shaped car without Mustang-sized running costs, even if real mpg in the four-cylinder isn't actually that far off the V8. Maybe reality, the tax burden or fleet manager dictates it's an Ecoboost Mustang or no Mustang and whatever you'd be buying at this price would have a four-cylinder engine anyway. If that's the case, why not have it rear-wheel drive and rather more interesting to be around?

Down on cylinder count and charisma or not, the Ecoboost Mustang certainly isn't lacking in raw performance. 65kg lighter than a V8, the standard car has 317hp and 318lb ft of torque, the latter from 3,000rpm where the V8's 381lb ft requires 4,250rpm before really coming alive. Indeed, for all its apparent muscularity, in standard tune many will find the V8 GT Mustang a tad underwhelming, at least until you're well up into the rev range. 

More ponies for your pony car
As you'll probably have already gathered this particular Ecoboost Mustang has had a bit of an additional tickle by the guys at Revo Technik. We've already videoblogged our initial impressions and if you've seen that you'll be aware of one very intriguing stat - the Stage 1 package lifts power to an impressive 360hp, but it's the 406lb ft of torque that really makes you sit up and take notice. 

Real work lies under here though
Real work lies under here though
Yes, with 'just' a bolt-on ECU tweak costing £499+VAT your Ecoboost Mustang will have more torque than the one with double the cylinder count and more than twice the swept capacity. Revo jokingly refers to this car as the Ecobeast and according to its own testing the 0-62 time is reduced to 5.24 seconds from 6.8 in the standard car on the same day. The official figure for the stock car is 5.8; even taking this as gospel that's at least half a second off the line for relatively little expenditure. Given this is just the opening gambit on a range of tuning packages you can perhaps appreciate how the name stuck.  

As you may well already know, the 2.3-litre four is related to that in the 350hp Focus RS. The Focus version gets a twin-scroll turbo and some additional cooling channels within the block but the engines are fundamentally similar, other applications for the Mustang engine including the Zenos E10 R

'Chip' tuning for modern turbocharged engines and getting bigger numbers through tweaks to boost, fuelling and timing may seem like an easy win for the aftermarket, untroubled by the homologation numbers manufacturers have to hit. Or, er, not. In some cases. 

Caged beast
Moving swiftly on, a quick chat with Revo's Peter Tranda reveals the work that goes into it. Peter says they're able to talk to all the sensors in the engine and fettle to their hearts' content. But everything they do is informed by a desire to both improve drivability and maintain a healthy safety margin to calm fears it'll go pop within a few thousand miles. 

Performance not in any doubt; even if the noise is
Performance not in any doubt; even if the noise is
Tranda reports the standard intercooler on the Mustang is somewhat ineffectual, limiting how much more boost can be added without dangerously raising the intake temperatures. As such Revo's mapping includes a 'Temperature Protection' system that progressively reduces the boost if intake air temperature increases due to ambient conditions, driving style or other factors; indeed if this breaches 70deg it returns to the default Ford settings. 

He also reports that although the single-scroll turbo is somewhat less sophisticated than the twin-scroll in the Focus RS application they actually spool up at the same rate, the main benefit for the Focus being a thicker and more resilient mid-range. The Focus also gets temporary overboost, taking it from 324lb ft to 347lb ft. 

This is just the start though; a Stage 2 package with a bigger intercooler and a new downpipe and exhaust system developed with Milltek is capable of a safe 380hp, torque more or less the same but with a longer duration in the rev range. It also sounds much better by all accounts.

Half the fun?
This can only be a good thing. Because from start-up to shut-off there's nothing exotic about the noise the Ecoboost Mustang makes. It's a shame that for all the impressive power delivery this is the aspect we all fixate upon. But given a Mustang is most definitely a car to be bought with the heart perhaps reasonable. 

And this is just the start...
And this is just the start...
Fatter rubber on 20-inch Shelby wheels, plus lowering springs and anti-roll bars from Eibach, help flesh out the Mustang's lines while also taking some rough edges off the handling. It's still hardly sophisticated in feel, thudding over the bumps and feeling burly and not especially refined, but with much improved body control and more consistency in the contact patch of the tyres. Which is welcome given the significant increase in torque and vigour with which the turbo now boosts - out of the box Revo reported the stock car being something of a handful with its combination of American spec hair-trigger throttle, crude suspension and old-school mechanical locking diff. 

It may not sound it but the engine feels properly muscular too. There's a turbocharged elasticity to the throttle response but sturdy mid-range on which to lean whether you want to accelerate in-gear or stir the stumpy little lever around the gate in search of more expressive bursts of speed. Weight and turn-in response to the wheel feel a little more decisive too, likely down to the suspension and wheels. On Revo's development car a serious looking Alcon brake kit addresses the fact Ecoboost Mustangs lack the GT's standard Brembos too. 

In short the new Mustang has never struggled looking the part. The Ecoboost wasn't exactly slow out of the box but now it goes as well those looks implied. If Stage 2 can help address sounding and feeling it too then there could be hope for the four-cylinder Mustang yet.


FORD MUSTANG ECOBOOST FASTBACK REVO STAGE 1
Engine
: 2,300cc 4cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
Power (hp): 360* (317@5,500rpm standard)
Torque (lb ft): 406* (318@3,000rpm standard)
0-62mph: 5.2sec* (5.8sec standard)
Top speed: 145mph (standard)
Weight: 1,655kg (with fluids and 75kg driver)
MPG: 35.3 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 179g/km
Price: £31,745 (basic list price for standard 2.3 Ecoboost Fastback manual; Revo Technik Stage 1 £499+VAT fitted)
*Revo Technik figures

[Sources: Revo Technik]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Photos: Chris Teagles]

 

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Comments (152) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sidesauce 18 Sep 2016

    I actually forgot about the fleet angle - if this upgrade doesn't invalidate the warranty then I could see why that would be very tempting for a company car point of view...

  • ChocolateFrog 18 Sep 2016

    In the context of a mustang that underbonnet photo looks tragic.

  • *Al* 18 Sep 2016

    ChocolateFrog said:
    In the context of a mustang that underbonnet photo looks tragic.
    Unfortunately it certainly does.

  • All that jazz 18 Sep 2016

    Unless you're leasing or it's a company car it doesn't matter what you do to it, it will still be worth £2.50 when you come to sell it because it doesn't have the V8 that all secondhand buyers will want.

  • Smokey32 18 Sep 2016

    Remap the V8 and write about that.

    A 2.3 Mustang is tragic. If your worried about the small difference in running costs buy a bloody micra.

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