Ford's Focus RS Is Gone, But Its Soul Lives on in a Slightly More Potent Mustang

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford s focus rs is gone but its soul lives on in a slightly more potent mustang

Wishing your Ford Mustang EcoBoost boasted a little more top end? Get ready to trade it in. In the lead-up to the New York Auto Show, Ford has unveiled a new pony car that draws inspiration — and power — from a fondly remembered hot hatch.

Buyers of the 2020 Mustang 2.3L High Performance Package get more than a nifty badge to announce their status; they also gain 20 horsepower and bits borrowed from the Mustang GT Performance Package. Buyers of 88-horsepower, Fox-bodied four-cylinders could only dream of this stuff.

While torque remains the same at an estimated 350 lb-ft, adding the High Performance Package sees the Stang’s output grow to 330 horsepower, up from the stock EcoBoost model’s 310 hp. You’ll need to feed it premium fuel to achieve these figures.

The Blue Oval wants the public to know it spends its nights tinkering in the garage, looking for ways to make life more enjoyable for you, the consumer.

“The Ford Performance Focus RS 2.3-liter engine is a high-revving marvel, and anyone who’s driven this EcoBoost engine instantly loves how quickly it responds and delivers power,” said Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer, in a statement. “When our team got the chance to try this specially built engine in a Mustang, we immediately agreed, ‘We have to do this.’”

Capturing consumer attention, as well as the title of “most powerful domestic four-cylinder sports car,” were other motivators. Ford claims the new package is the product of a five-man endeavor that took place in the Ford Performance garage over the span of 10 months.

Offered this fall on the EcoBoost coupe and convertible (with either 10-speed auto or six-speed manual), the 2.3L High Performance Package sees the entry-level Mustang borrow the 13.9-inch front brake rotors and 255/40 R19 rubber of the brawnier GT Performance Package, plus its aero add-ons. It’s not a straight engine swap, either. Ford Performance took the Focus RS mill as a starting point, tuned it for a broader torque curve, then added a 63-millimeter twin-scroll turbo compressor and larger radiator.

Following Ford Performance’s intervention, the engine delivers 90 percent of peak torque across a 40 percent larger swath of engine speed (2,500 to 5,300 rpm), keeps more power on hand while approaching the redline, and bumps up the Mustang’s top speed by 10 mph (to 155 mph) when compared to a Performance Package-equipped EcoBoost model. Recalibrated power steering and an alloy strut tower brace, as well as the addition of a 32-millimeter sway bar up front and tubular 21.7-millimeter bar in the rear, should aid drivers who take their Mustang to track day.

Should all of this prove insufficient, 2020 Mustang EcoBoost coupe buyers can upgrade further to an EcoBoost Handling Package. This collection of kit adds half-inch wider wheels (9×9.5) shod in 265/40R Pirelli P Zero Corsa4 summer rubber, semi-metallic brakes, MagneRide dampers, Torsen 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle, and a beefier solid rear sway bar (24 mm). Again, this package is only offered to coupe buyers, regardless of transmission choice.

Four-cylinder selection aside, the 2020 Mustang line benefits from standard FordPass Connect, which allows owners to keep tabs on their vehicle (and start it, when automatic-equipped) remotely, while base EcoBoost models gain new 17-inch aluminum wheels slathered in silver. Paint options expand to include Grabber Lime, Iconic Silver, Red Hot Metallic Tinted Clearcoat and Twister Orange.

Expanding the Mustang buffet at both the top and bottom ends just might help Ford stem some of the volume loss seen in recent years. Mustang sales shrunk 7.4 percent in the U.S. last year, with the first quarter of 2019 showing an 11.7 percent volume decrease. The model’s peak post-recession sales year came in 2015.

[Images: Ford]

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  • Quote "The Ford Performance Focus RS 2.3-liter engine is a high-revving marvel, and anyone who’s driven this EcoBoost engine instantly loves how quickly it responds and delivers power," 6800 rpm is *NOT* a high revving marvel... not even close. 8000 rpm would be a "Marvel" 7500 rpm would be "insane" 7000 rpm would be "above average for a domestic turbo 4" but 6800? 2010 SHO-TT runs GIANT PISTONS (comparatively) that run to 6500 at the rev limiter... 300 more with smaller pistons and NEWER coatings internally ... puuuuleeezzze

    • See 1 previous
    • @conundrum I'm just saying, if you say "High reving Marvel" and that limit is 6800rpm.. that's not a 'marvel'.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Apr 18, 2019

    I was very pleasantly surprised by a rental Mustang with the four turbo when my CTS made its last trip to the shop.... In car ergos are excellent. The four ran up to 20 indicated pounds of boost. The engine note wasn't sexy BUT the performance was amazing, and even a mostly base car had good handling. Having owned a 400 Firebird in my formative years, yes, I get what a Murican Muscle Car is supposed to be, but looking from the year 2019 the four cylinder mustang is a good car. I thought seriously about a mildly optioned up version, and I'm not a Pony fanatic-the lack of rear seats was the nope decision. Also drove the same engine in the Focus RS....same, just more of it. You can get power out, but they don't feel like a six, or an's always going to be somewhat crude, I don't care how fancy your motor mounts and countershaft balancers are, which is why a 2.0 is not adequate for luxury cars or high end performance. At a lower price point, I'm OK with turning up the wick and holding on !

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