By on February 14, 2012

The official sports car of the British underclass (that can afford to move out of the council estate) is the Ford Focus RS, a fluorescent display of 4-wheeled vulgarity. The British motoring press follow the progress of the Focus RS like we follow crappy celebrity gossip (well, they do too), and the latest such report has turned up an interesting tidbit about one of our home-grown working class heroes, the Ford Mustang.

With the departure of Volvo from the Ford empire, the 5-cylinder turbocharged engine used by the Focus RS is gone, and Ford will predictably be replacing it with some kind of turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engine. Top Gear (the magazine, not the show) got to chat with Ford RS engineers, who apparently spilled the beans on a 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder with “at least 320 bhp.”

According to reporter Paul Horrell

This engine is timed to go into the Mustang in around 2014, but a RS Focus will probably get extra boost. The engine will also need to be re-engineered for the Focus’s transverse mounting. 

An Ecoboost Mustang has long been the stuff of internet rumordom since the mid 2000’s, but a twin-turbo V6 seemed to be the choice of gossip-mongers and content aggregation sites everywhere. While the boosted V6 is very much a GM think (think Buick Grand National), a turbocharged 4-banger ‘Stang has happened before, in the form of the cult classic Mustang SVO. The SVO was also a legendary sales flop despite the SVO’s overall competence.

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54 Comments on “Pseudo-Rumor Of The Day: 2014 Ford Mustang To Get Focus RS Turbocharged 4-Cylinder...”

  • avatar

    I heard the 2016 Mustang will be a front-wheel drive hatchback with popup headlights, Porsche 928 inspired instrument bezel and a turbo-charged four.


    • 0 avatar

      The 2025 Mustang will supposedly be a four-door plugin hybrid with a brushless motor paired to a natural-gas-powered three-rotor Wankel engine. Or at least that’s just something I heard somewhere.

      • 0 avatar

        Don’t forget the manual transmission, turbo-diesel wagon option. Sure to be a winner!

      • 0 avatar

        Front-wheel drive? Pop-up lights? Oh… so they’ll be basing the next Mustang off of the Mazda6 (nee 626) again? (The Probe: the Mustang that never was).

        I quite like the idea of a turbodiesel Mustang. The turbo-four Mustang, I have no qualms about… the sound can be good if they tune the exhaust right (BMW got it right with the Cooper S). A turbodiesel… that’s difficult, but I don’t see how a 3.5 liter turbo-diesel V6 with about 350 horsepower would be out of place on the Mustang. They’ve already got a similar 3.0 engine in the Jaguar/Land Rover line-up, so Ford can get it from the same supplier.

      • 0 avatar

        @Toad: It’s been done.

      • 0 avatar

        niky, my friend dropped a Mercedes turbo 5 cyl. diesel in his late 60’s ‘stang.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s a popular engine amongst diesel enthusiasts. Not that powerful, but tough and it’ll drink anything.

        I would prefer something like a Nissan RD28 six cylinder… in a 65′. You know, so you can feel all “Fast and Furious” like… you can roll up to the lights and tell people it’s got a Skyline engine in there… though it would be more sensible to use the more powerful RD28T from the Nissan Patrol…

    • 0 avatar

      The 3013 Ford ThunderCougerFalconBird will get 495 Nucleoids per Dark Matter, equating to 3,025 Hypervals per gallon (of whale oil).

  • avatar

    A turbo 4 doesn’t exactly have the character people expect out of a muscle car.

  • avatar

    The SVO Mustang might not have been such a flop had there been no GT model to steal its sales. I paid 25% less for my ’85 GT than I would have for the SVO that I could have ordered instead. No contest.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      There’s the problem in a nutshell. I think the American mind still works that way. Unless the 4cyl turbo is significantly more powerful than the V6 OR it is less powerful than the current V6 (say 250 to 275 hp) AND significantly cheaper to buy then the idea is a non-starter.

      • 0 avatar

        @Bunkie: same problem for me. I could not get the local Ford dealer to come down $1 off of the $16K MSRP for a 1986 Mustang SVO. He would sell me a GT for $12K, but it wasn’t nearly as well equipped. I ended up buying a Mercury Capri 5.0L Sport Coupe which had all of the options the SVO had for $14K out the door. This was in August of 1986, right before the new models came out. I’d seen pix of the 1987’s, I wasn’t too crazy about all of the aero skirts.

        For $16K, I could have gotten a 350 equipped Z-28 IROC back then. Or a WS6 Trans Am with the same Corvette motor.

        No the pricing is what killed the SVO Mustang. From without and within.

      • 0 avatar


        I know you can get some obscene reliable power with at least decent fuel economy out of a turbo four. GM can get 300 HP and 330 pound feet of torque out of a 2.0L DI 4-banger on premium with just a couple of very minor hardware tweaks and changing the programming to run on premium.

        That’s equal HP to many V6 engines almost double the displacement with more torque (minus forced injection).

      • 0 avatar

        @geozinger: You shoulda waited for the ’87 LX Notchback (the model with a trunk and no side skirts, that state police agencies drove). Many of the car mags tested stock examples that turned high 13’s in the quarter. No way to know if they got “ringers” from Ford, though.

      • 0 avatar

        The text of this story covers that. They’re claiming more power for the boosted 4 (“at least 320HP”) than a current six and considering modern turbo technology, it will have a way fatter powerband as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t the SVO have the fabled IRS and the GT did not?

      • 0 avatar

        Nope, solid axle.

        Key differences were 4-wheel disc brakes (the first Mustang to offer 4-wheel discs), limited slip differential, pedals designed specifically for heel and toe shifting, a fully adjustable Koni suspension setup, 16″ wheels, faster ratio power steering, and some pretty grippy and comfortable seats for “back in the day.”

        But no IRS.

  • avatar

    I. Love. It.

    So, let’s do some dreaming and assume a slightly smaller, lighter Mustang… 4 cyl. ecoboost RWD… six speed manual… 35 mpg on the highway…

    …what’s not to love here?

    IIRC the original SVO was more expensive than the GT. Would this model be priced below the current V-6?

  • avatar

    Four-cylinders is not as big a problem as inline. If the Mustang had a twin-turbocharged 90-degree V4, I doubt enthusiasts would be offended. The engine would sound like a miniature V8 while making decent economy and performance. The V4 turbocharged architecture doesn’t exactly fit the bill for cost effective four-cylinder engines, but the inline engine doesn’t make the grade regarding muscle car intangibles.

  • avatar

    It’s not particularly surprising that a turbo-4 might be planned for the Mustang. I doubt it will make much of a difference though. Most people shopping for the V6 might not even know what an engine is. V8 shoppers are shopping for the V8.

    Everyone is doing small, boosted engines these days. Hell, even BMW’s signature 3-series has tossed aside the epic, NA inline-6 in favor of turbo-4.

    • 0 avatar

      The iconic E30 M3 had a 4 cylinder, and probably most of the cars sold of that and the earlier generation had I4 engines… So it’s really just returning back to form.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    How about a more mildly boosted 2.0 4 in the current Focus . . . without all of the boy-racer stuff in the 260 hp Focus RS?

    Seems to me that the “premium” versions of the Focus (Titanium especially) could do with a little more power than the 160 HP currently offered. Or is the problem that the gimpy DCT won’t handle the additional torque of the more powerful engine?

    If you take the stonkin’ V8 out of the Mustang, what you have is yet another car with an inadequate back seat and a hopped-up small displacement motor . . . and there are lots of them on the market, including from overseas sources.

    So, IMHO, that would be a mistake. An even bigger mistake would be to make it a transverse engine FWD car. Ford already has one of those: it’s called a Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      @ DC Bruce :

      the coming very soon Focus ST (6-speed manual only, no DCT) is 260hp already, so your initial question is already answered.

      the “boy racer” stuff of the prior Focus RS is exactly what people want in that car and it has been a monster success for Ford.

      the ST (in both prior and new gen versions) is a more refined, less extreme car, as intended.

      having driven them both, it’s horses for courses – you choose what you want and enjoy it.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. A 200 hp Focus Ti would be a good mid-point of luxury power without the boy-racer feel/image of the ST. I do think you are right that the DCT can’t handle the torque.

  • avatar

    2014 + 5 years depreciation… This is going to be perfect for my midlife crisis!

    As a guy who buys old cars and does all his own maintenance, I will take an inline 4 over any other engine configuration.

  • avatar

    I think another issue for the original SVO may have been competition from Ford’s own Thunderbird. I actually test drove a Mustang SVO back in the day, but along with the price premium, it still seemed less comfortable and refined as its Fox chassis stablemate. I ended up buying a slightly used ’86 T-Bird Turbo Coupe (same engine except for the intercooler) and never looked back. While it couldn’t match the performance of the Mustang, it was a lot easier on the eyes, as well as my back and wallet. No regrets.

  • avatar

    In this era of increasingly stringent environmental & economical requirements, a 4 pot Mustang makes sense. It wouldn’t hurt for them to shrink it down and improve the packaging efficiency too. The 3 series coupe houses a long inline 6, legitimately seats 4, and is a good foot shorter and 200-300lb lighter than the current Mustang V6. 1 series, even moreso. Ford has been pushing the retro aspect of the Mustang… but they failed in the category of size. I’m hoping the next Mustang will be closer in size to the original or the one from the 80s.

  • avatar

    The N/A 2.3L in the Fox Mustang didn’t stop people from buying it.

  • avatar

    ’79 Mustang 4-cyl turbo (2.3) = my first car. Hope the oil seals on the new model turbo are better than they were back then. I could lay down some crazy Spy Hunter-style smokescreens in that thing…

  • avatar

    i love my mustang svo

    i didn’t realize i was a sophisticated driving enthusiast, but i’ll take it.

  • avatar

    I think if they keep it rwd, they can just about do what they want with the engine. The faithful will continue to buy it. It may be anachronistic but who cares.

  • avatar

    how many kids these days are really into muscle cars (the ones that are even into cars, that is). Almost every hi-po muscle car I see (Mustang GT/Camaro SS/Challenger/Charger) is driven by an older guy with one hand on the wheel and the other on his toupe who might acutally remember what these cars were ‘back in the day’. Most kids I see in hi-po cars these days are in WRX’s, Mazdaspeed3’s, GTI’s, Evo’s, etc. The slightly more mature set (I’m talking low-mid 30’s)seem to gravitate to BMW’s and Audi’s. I really think muscle cars have a ‘greying fanbase’ issue.

    The ‘future’ mustang, to maintain younger demographic focus, would probably smaller, lighter, turbo-4, and possible AWD. The 84-86 Mustang SVO was probably 30 years ahead of it’s time.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen the new 3.7L Premium Package piloted by a lot of 20-30 somethings (my friends inclusive). I think the new H.O. v6 did wonders to the stangs image. Gen X and Y’ers cringe at gas prices. Me being one of them. Great gas mileage and sub 14 sec quarter mile times? Sign me up.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Two words: Insurance Cost! The “kids” can’t afford the insurance for a V8 muscle car.

  • avatar

    If they shrink it, the Mustang could become more like a Celica or old Z car for the modern day. RWD, lighter, still a 2+2, decent mileage, good handling. I think the new Scion/Subaru offering is targeting this space as well. Young people would grab them happily.

    Then you can offer the upmarket higher performance versions in GT, Boss and Shelby trim. The weakest point for the new Camaro and Challenger in my view is that they are huge. The Mustang feels smaller, but all of them have huge exteriors while providing little interior room.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The Challenger is the worst offender in that regard. Many reviewers have said it reminded them of the bad part of the 1970s in the way that it handled and the way the tires squirmed to deal with the fat pig of a car they were fitted to.

  • avatar

    I think its a great idea! And if the mustang shrank by a little, i’d like that too.

  • avatar

    I hope that Ford finds a way to keep a V8 in the next gen Mustang as well. How about a nice 3.5-3.8L that will rev to 7000rpm?

    • 0 avatar

      More likely some small twin turbos and some taller gearing.
      Add in start stop and you’d have something seriously tunable that got great mileage.

      Turbos would probably be too expensive though.

  • avatar

    Question: how will the new turbos hold up? Isn’t Ford taking a risk to the rep if these new models don’t last 120K+ miles or so?

  • avatar

    2.3==>>320?! wow

  • avatar

    Oh geez, I drove an automatic Merkur with the same turbo 2.3 Pinto motor that came in the Mustang. It ran dangerously hot at the redline getting onto the freeway, and felt very sluggish around town.

    Why would the Focus possibly get a higher boost than the Mustang?

  • avatar

    How about Ford’s Oz I6? The current turbo version produces 416hp and 417lb-ft.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      Funny you should mention Ford Oz on this thread – In a few weeks the Mustang’s Australian cousin the Falcon will be released with the very engine being discussed – the Ecoboost 4!

  • avatar

    What the Mustang really needs is a 4-banger in the 150~200HP range – a real entry level motor and not a third performance motor family muddying up the lineup. Unless they’re planning on dropping the V6 or the V8 for 2014 of course.

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