Carmakers file paperwork with the National Highway Transportation Administration every year that parse VINs for coming models. Hagerty discovered a VIN decoder document for the Ford Mustang suggesting a more powerful engine on the way for the 2020 pony car. There are two 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines listed among the six total powerplants. The Net Brake H.P. column shows one of them will produce 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel. That’s the current base engine. The other shows TBD in the same column.
According to Bozi Tatarevic, who wrote the Hagerty piece, “sources at Ford say we’re looking at a new, higher-powered version of the turbocharged engine.” Water cooler prognostication says Ford wants a better competitor for the Chevrolet Camaro 1LE, the Bowtie pony car getting 335 hp and 284 pound-feet of torque from a V6. Ford’s four-cylinder trounces Chevy’s four-cylinder, while the Chevy six-cylinder is 25 hp ahead but 66 lb-ft behind the Ford four, and the base V6 Camaro costs $1,105 more than the base Mustang.
Nevertheless, there’s a glaring gap in price and power between Mustang trims. Ford dropped the 335-hp Cyclone V6 for the 2018 model year, leaving an $8,960 spread between the 310-hp four-cylinder and 460-hp Coyote V8. Ford Performance sells an $867 Performance Calibration Kit for the 2.3-liter that adds 25 hp and 70 lb-ft, but it’s apparently only for the 2015-2017 model years. The EcoBoost Performance Package currently available on the Mustang configurator doesn’t increase potency. Meanwhile, the 2.3-liter EcoBoost in the Focus RS, which shares numerous components with the Ford unit, makes a square 350 hp and 350 lb-ft.
Or… what if the new EcoBoost output is for the Mustang hybrid? Before Raj Nair moved to Multimatic, which builds the Ford GT, he was Ford’s chief technical officer. In that role, he said in 2017 that the hybrid ‘Stang would use an “EcoBoost-type engine,” and have V8-beating torque “available with the electric motors.” Motors. Plural.
The VIN decoder sheet fills in two V8 outputs and lists two as TBD. A known quantity is the 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 in the Shelby GT 350, rated at 526 hp. A 5.2-liter V8 listed as TBD we’ll assume is the supercharged Predator V8 in the Shelby GT500. There’s a 5.0-liter 4V V8 listed as 435 hp. That could be a typo; the Coyote made 435 hp until the 2018 model year, when it got bumped to 460 hp, and such errors are said to be “relatively common.” The remaining 5.0-liter V8 could be for the Bullitt, which currently makes 480 hp.
Check out the Hagerty piece to see the VIN document. When asked about the paperwork, Ford would only officially say it “is always elevating Mustang and will share more exciting news this spring.”