2020 Mustang 2.3L Performance Package: From Engine Swap To Reality

  • This special 2020 Mustang began as a one-off passion project with a Focus RS engine swap.
  • The Mustang team went to Spain to convince management there to help them with the engine.
  • The 2.3L High Performance Package provides the 2020 Mustang with a more responsive power band. 

A five-person skunkworks project in the Ford Performance garage, an engine swap, and a trip to Spain. Each played an important part in Ford’s new 2.3L High Performance Package for the entry-level Mustang EcoBoost. With the package, Ford says the 2020 Mustang Ecoboost becomes the most powerful four-cylinder sports car from any American automaker.

And just in time for the pony car’s 55th anniversary.

The Engine Swap

Reminiscent of the original Mustang in 1964, this Ecoboost variant started as a five-person, one-off project in the Ford Performance garage. The team wanted something that could handle everything from coastal mountain roads to autocross courses; braking and aerodynamics were considered at length, but where to find an engine?

“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. “When our team got the chance to try this specially-built engine in a Mustang, we immediately agreed, ‘we have to do this.’”

After doing the Focus RS engine swap, the Mustang team realized they had something special. By taking advantage of Ford’s new product development times, they were able to complete the design-to-approval process for the 2.3L High Performance Package in under 10 months.

The 2020 Mustang 2.3L High Performance Package is 34 mph faster than the base EcoBoost Mustang. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Related: A detailed look at the history of Ford’s iconic pony car.

Across The Ocean

The swap was one thing, but getting the actual engine was another. So the Mustang team caught a flight to Valencia, Spain, traveling to Ford’s Valencia Engine Plant, home of the 2.3-liter. The goal? Convince plant management to build a new variant of the turbo four-cylinder specifically for the Mustang. Spoiler alert. They said yes.

From there, it was about honing in on the already strong attributes of the Ford Performance engine. After meeting with plant management in Spain, the Mustang team had the essentials; the die-cast alloy block and higher-performance cylinder heads, for example. However, the team specified a five percent larger (63 millimeters total) twin-scroll turbo compressor and a larger radiator. After calibrating it to run both Ford’s 10-speed SelectShift automatic and six-speed Getrag manual, things were really shaping up.

“It’s not just the horsepower gains over the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost, it’s the broader torque curve that delivers 90 percent of peak torque between 2,500 and 5,300 rpm, which is 40 percent wider than the base EcoBoost engine,” Widmann said.

Estimates come in at 330 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque (premium fuel) for the 2.3L High Performance Package. Zero to 60 happens in the mid-four-second range, with top a speed of 155 mph. This represents a 10 mph gain over the 2019 EcoBoost Performance Package.

“Plus, horsepower holds stronger up to the 6,500-rpm redline – enabling more usable power and torque for enthusiasts and weekend autocrossers to enjoy,” Widmann added.

The 2.3L High Performance Package includes the brake cooling ramps from the Mustang GT’s Performance Package. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Related: On the road with the Ford Mustang GT.

Balance & Control

A fully-independent suspension, a 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle, and a near-balanced 53/47 weight distribution keep the Mustang and its 2.3L High Performance Package planted on the road. Up front, the new Mustang features a 32-millimeter sway bar and a 21.7-millimeter tubular bar at the rear. For greater steering precision, the team added an alloy strut tower brace to stiffen the chassis at the front. To improve stopping power and fade resistance, the 2.3L High Performance Package adds larger four-piston fixed calipers and 13.9-inch front rotors (from the Mustang GT).

To increase overall performance, drivers can opt for the EcoBoost Handling Package. It includes semi-metallic brakes, MagneRide dampers, and 19×9.5-inch aluminum wheels with 265/40R Pirelli P Zero Corsa4 summer tires.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Pricing & Availability

The 2020 Ford Mustang with the 2.3L High Performance Package arrives at dealerships this fall. New colors for 2020 include Grabber Lime, Iconic Silver, Red Hot Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, and Twister Orange. As of this writing, Ford has not disclosed the starting MSRP for the 2020 Mustang.

2020 Mustang 2.3L High Performance Package Gallery

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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