Monday, January 20, 2014

Whither Mustang? And A Modest Proposal

2.3 liter, 305 h.p., turbo 4-cylinder engine available in the 2015 Mustang.  Forged and heat-treated and bi-metallic
 or coated "everything," and a balance shaft--so it likes to rev.

Hotshoe and I discussed the 2015 Mustang at our January Great Pasta Blowout.  As former and current owners, we (and Watchtower) have an active interest in what Ford is doing with the car.  Neither of us has a problem with independent rear suspension: finally.  But when I said I'd consider the 2.3 liter 4-cylinder turbo, Hotshoe grew quiet.  I said, "Hey, it removes 200 pounds from the front axle.  With a brake and suspension package, that sounds like the fastest Mustang in HSAX to me."  He remained quiet.  It turned out he was thinking about those coked-up, blown-up turbos of the '70's and '80's we'd heard about.  (Yes, Hotshoe now owns a turbo: no one, not even the Great Wannabe, is immune to congnitive dissonance.  But I'm pretty sure Hotshoe would order the 5 liter 4-cam V-8.  I probably would too.)

It's said that the 2.3 turbo is aimed at Europeans, who pay 2-3 times what we do for gas.  A right-hand drive version will be sold in the U.K., so it's not just a case of exporting a handful of cars for conversion. But Mr. Catchpole of evo TV seems skeptical about the reception it will get over there.  Maybe, if you're a European who can afford a Mustang, you can afford the gas for a 5.0 V-8 too?

Hotshoe and I didn't discuss styling, but it's only OK with me.  Lower the hoodline and slope the nose, lose the creases,
and lose the phony rear diffuser.  My heretical idea: make the car 15% smaller.

It would be nice if the 2.3 turbo had less size and mass to push around.  But then, I didn't have a problem in the 1990's when the car that became the Ford Probe was going to be the next Mustang.  In retrospect, I was dead wrong about front drive.  That's a bridge too far for the character, not to mention the image and heritage, of the car.

The Ford Probe of the early 1990's.  The pin stripes are non-standard.  It was "right-sized," and remains a styling hit
with me.  I'd have bought one, especially if it had a wheel/tire/handling package.  But it was a swing and a miss
with the car-buying public, no matter how it was badged.

A better solution: the Mercury Capri of the early 1970's (it was a Ford in Germany, where it was designed).  A friend of
mine back then had one with the 2.6 liter V-6 that looked just like this.  It was a sweet, quick car.  And, unlike the
Probe, it was a sales success.  Its major failing was a solid rear axle hung from leaf springs--just like the original
Mustang.  IRS will fit under this car "no problem."  Just downsize the rear seats and trunk.  Current Mustang
owners are already used to a laughable trunk and rear seats.

Full disclosure: I'm glad I had a chance to drive my cousin's 1966 GT 350 before he sold it.  But I prefer my own '08 GT, although Watchtower assures me that even the Ford Racing suspension (ahem...) doesn't turn it into a sports car.  The "manly car for manly men" feel of a GT 350 can get tiresome after a few cycles of clutch use and horsing it around street corners and parking lots.  The muscle car piece of the pony car formula has never pushed my buttons.  But putting more sport in the sporty is just fine with me.

So my question remains: if Mustang is going to offer a 2.3 liter 300 horsepower turbo 4, why not downsize the car to go with it?  There's no reason the next Mustang redesign couldn't be a Capri-sized rear-driver with independent rear suspension.  There would probably be room in the engine bay for a non-turbo V-8 smaller than the 5.0.   A 3.5-ish would maintain the Mustang tradition and bring the car in at around 10 pounds per horsepower.  And it wouldn't hurt a 50/50 weight distribution...much...


Watchtower said...

In no particular order;

I actually owned an early 70's Capri in the early eighties...for about a day.
Kind of reminds me of the Datsun 240Z, cool car but I like V8's.

My Ford 'racing suspension' that comes with the Bullitt puts it squarely between a standard GT and the Shelby GT (which is not the GT 500).
I did test drive a Shelby GT before buying the Bullitt and have to say that it was definitely more capable around corners than my car but wasn't worth the trade off in ride comfort.
Just thought I'd throw that out there.

I am ready for the new Mustang and it's IRS, bring it on!

Personally I don't think I would ever buy a Mustang with a 4 cylinder, but after driving the new Focus ST I can definitely see where it could have plenty of power and an awesome exhaust note to go wit it, this will be interesting.

Pilote Ancien said...

A Capri for a DAY, Watchtower? There's a story behind that...

A wild guess: Ford won't be signing you up for the 2023 1.2 liter turbo-diesel Mustang with the "California Special" trim package... ;-)

Wannabe Hotshoe said...

I'm trying to remember the last V-8 I owned....I think it was the '84 Mustang GT, and EVERY car before that - oops, forgot about the Cosworth Vega. Our first brand new family car was a full-sized '86 Buick LeSabre V-6 - and I don't think I've ever returned to the V-8 camp since! Other Vegas, a Moretti, Mazda RX7, 3 Scirocco's, 2 Focus's - into the "modern era" gas-efficiency transport - and fun. As mentioned in the article, I've become a covert to turbo charging. Wheeeee. All I can say now is at my advanced age, I've mellowed and become more willing to embrace alternatives. That being said, I agree, this may have been a great opportunity to shrink the Mustang a bit - making the Turbo-4 an even hotter option, and inviting the "import crowd" back to American goods......

Now, about that "I want that Boss 429" comment in another blog post......I can be flexible....

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