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The COBB Tuning Ecoboost Mustang: Future Proof

Patrick Hoffstetter March 9, 2016 Ford Reviews, Reviews 34 Comments

When I was a little boy growing up in Minnesota, my dad bought a cherry red 67 Fastback with white go fast stripes. I never got to ride in it much. It didn’t run often, but god damn it was pretty. And in my mind it was the most amazing machine on the face of the Earth. From the time it first showed up, to the day it left us after we moved to Texas, I was in love with that car.

Ever since it left, however, I have had trouble falling in love with any of the new mustangs that followed. The SN95 was ugly and half hearted. The S197 was better, but still felt lost about what it wanted to really be. When the latest generation finally arrived it stirred something inside me. It was more European, more daring, and more suited to a modern world. And when you introduce the Ecoboost version of the car to the lovely folks at COBB Tuning, it becomes something you can absolutely get excited about driving.

When I first took custody of the big orange beast, I noticed how refined the base car has become. No longer does anything feel crude or built to budget. This is a nice car inside. You can tell immediately that Ford knew it could no longer sell a strong drivetrain paired with a flimsy car. The touch points are good, everything is intuitive, and it’s all nice to use. The turbocharged model that I had been given to test was a 2015 car, which was chosen by the COBB gang to be its development platform for an Ecoboost line of tuning parts. COBB has been around for a long time now, and has specialized mostly in turbocharged models offered up by folks ranging from Subaru to Ford and, most recently, Porsche.

COBB recently has hit their stride with the Ford Ecoboost family of engines. The team there uses new parts, clever programing, and other technical wizardry to extract glorious amounts of power and torque out of already fairly impressive motors. The base Ecoboost Mustang makes 255 horsepower and nearly 300 lb-ft of torque. What you’ll get from the $3,225 you’re going to want to give to COBB though, is a bump all the way to 356 hp and 378 lb-ft of torque. Oh, did I mention that’s to the wheels?

Spacious boot too.

The first thing you notice when you start the car is the amazing note of the exhaust and the lovely rasp that the new turbo-back setup provides. Additionally, the COBB kit adds an intake and intercooler up front. You’ll also find blowoff noise and plenty of spooling coming through loud and clear. This car doesn’t hide the fact that it’s turbocharged. It embraces it and announces it loudly and proudly. When you get on the throttle in full boost mode you get several things; the whistle of the turbo, the push to the back of the seat, and then the feeling of the back stepping out through two gears. It wants you to thrash it. This COBB-tuned Mustang is a dopey orange puppy that just wants to never stop playing. It’s hilarious, engaging, and, with the six speed, the most fun I’ve had in a car on the street.

The AccessPort is amazing

Still, you don’t have to have the car at full boost all the time. Using the AcessPort handheld tuner, you can flash the ECU, read codes, and get amazing data about what is going on with the charge temp, boost pressure, and the like. Beyond that, COBB has worked its magic with a few neat tricks. Using the cruise control button you can switch between five maps within the larger tune. Hitting plus and minus on the cruise control swaps maps up and down, using the rev counter to show numerically which map you are on. Within the AccessPort there are a few more toys, my favorite of which, is the ability to flat foot shift the car if you are at a certain throttle position. Everything in your being says that you can’t do it, and it actually took me a while to try it. But once you do, you feel like a hero. Maybe even a racing god… briefly.

The COTA Tower is great background for this Texas original

When you do thrash it, you figure out just how capable a sports car the Mustang has become. It welcomes the extra power of the COBB tune, and feels like it could handle even more if you were to really push the limits. The full boost tune isn’t too much for the street, but it will make sure you are awake and fully focused. When I took the car out to my favorite road, swapped it into sport, and turned off the first layer of traction control I was almost taken aback at how the car attacked the tight winding road. Since the motor over the front axle is lighter than the V8, it turns in sharply and without a hint of understeer. The COBB knob in your right hand selects gears with perfect crispness of movement. When you get everything right and drive the Mustang hard, you get rewarded with amazing speed. The ass comes out when the torque hits, you boost all the way to redline, and flat foot shifting all the way until the braking point. It’s intoxicating, addictive, and I was just drawn back to the road again and again.

The first car I ever loved

I’m reminded again of that ’67 Fastback. This was a car that bewitched me. It always got my attention, and wouldn’t let it go until it was done with me. Now I’m having the same reaction courtesy of the COBB Mustang. After COBB woke up the sleepy EcoBoost motor it gave the car renewed character and even more soul. This is the Mustang that I will try to share with any children I might have. This four-cylander beast will be the car that saves the Mustang for the common man. I see no reason why you would buy a base GT when you could have the same street experience for far less. COBB tuning has worked Mustang magic, and I will highly recommend this car to anyone looking to adopt a big, daft, orange dog.

[Disclaimer: COBB provided the vehicle for review.]

  • Muthalovin

    The first upgrade for the Fiesta will be a COBB AccessPort. It seems like the most bang for the buck.

    • Douche_McGee

      that’s what my first mod was – even the Cobb canned tunes are a nice gain.

      You can get a lifetime tune from Tune+ for $250, and he’ll adjust the custom tune to any mods, do multiple fuel setups (91/93/E30) for it all..

  • neight428

    I drive a ’14 base GT currently and have entertained the thought of swapping it out for an ’16 Ecoboost.

    That’s a ’65 or ’66 fastback in your pic though.

    • 67 for sure. We still have the paperwork

      • Those taillights are saying ’65 or ’66. The ’67 had concave taillights, not to mention a longer fastback roofline:

        http://13252-presscdn-0-94.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/1967_Ford_Mustang_T5_Fastback_Rear_1.JPG

        • neight428

          Yup.

      • 0A5599

        What happened to the car that the paperwork didn’t go with it?

        And yeah, that isn’t a picture of a 67, but the wheeis are 69 or 69, so maybe stuff got swapped from other cars, including the title.

        • Huh. I’ll have to ask my father again. Maybe it was a 66. It also didn’t have the original engine, as it was kind of a mutt of a car

          • The side mirror is from a ’67 or ’68, too, but the car itself is without question either a ’65 or a ’66. I don’t believe there’s any way to distinguish between those two years on the basis of what’s shown in that photo.

    • Also, I would totally do it. It’s an amazing value, and the COBB pack really isn’t expensive at all. And it’s totally solid. I had no issues.

  • The Real Number_Six

    Nice!
    Small correction on base Ecoboost figures (from Ford’s docs):
    310 horsepower
    320 lb.-ft. of torque

    • I was talking wheel horsepower numbers. So you have to take away the drivetrain loss.

  • the_satisfier

    Awesome review sir!

  • BigRedCaveTroll

    I’d like to see what they’ll do with the Focus RS.

    • So, that’s an interesting point. I think tuners, even the best, will have issues with getting more out of the RS

  • stigshift

    I agree wholeheartedly. I was born two weeks before the Mustang was introduced, and while there are several I wouldn’t mind owning, this is the first generation that I want to buy new.

  • JayP

    “I see no reason why you would buy a base GT when you could have the same street experience for far less.”

    But the noise…
    https://youtu.be/1NC7-2c2iUc?t=21s

    Talking with my brother last night he said he’d seen new V6s going for $20k. I may talk him into the ecoboost since he’s not going to track the car. I’m looking in a few years at the ecoboost too despite my prior experience with the Focus ST.

    My ’05 GT isn’t going anywhere and fully expect my son to take it after I die. The only way he gets that car.

    • neight428

      The torque of the V8 is just lovely too. That level of performance spoils you for nearly anything else.

  • Maymar

    It does disappoint me a little that most of the reviews of the stock Ecoboost have just made it sound dull, I’m glad to hear that there’s something that can be done about it, but I’d really be willing to give up the extra power to spend less.

    How warranty-friendly is this?

    • neight428

      Near as I can tell, it’s definitely high risk to your warranty. If something breaks that is at all affected by a performance tune, which would be nearly anything on the engine, they can decline to cover the repair. In the early days of Coyote 5.0L tuning, there were some guys that burned up the #8 cylinder. It’s hot rodding, things break.

    • JayP

      Depends… If you want to bother with taking the aftermarket kit off before heading to the shop, you might get away with it. Or the tech may opt to decline the warranty work for the decals on your car. Yes, this happened to me with a stock Focus SVT with a HPDE decal.

      Ford -might- offer a hp kit like they did with the Focus ST. Cost would be more than Cobb. It’s a gamble.

    • I can’t imagine you’d get away with a warranty claim unless the dealer really goes to bat for you. That said, I’ve driven an EcoBoost Mustang. It’s no GT, but I’d hardly call it dull.

  • “I see no reason why you would buy a base GT when you could have the same street experience for far less.”

    Troll harder bro. By the time you factor in the upgrades that come with the GT such as brakes, line lock and launch control, you’re not saving that much. Not nearly enough to sacrifice any potential reliability issues.

    To be clear, I’m not hating on the choice of tech over brute. Custom over factory. Just calling you out on the dismissive attitude. IMHO it is unbecoming.

    TL/DR “I’m sure there’s lots of things you don’t see.”

    • JayP

      The only reason I didn’t knock that hard was he did say “street experience.”
      The ecoboost is fine for the street but on the track, it melts down. Upgraded intercooler, oil cooler, anything to keep it from cutting off boost. Meanwhile my stock 4.6 goes lap after lap without a hint of getting warm.

      It’s been over a year since I’ve seen an ecoboost ST at the track. I guess I’ll see one or 2 ecoboost Mustangs this year.

      • He pissed me off with the picture of a 65/66 calling it a 67.

        If you’ll excuse me I have to correct the rest of the internet about how the “Star Trek Insignia” is actually an “Assignment Patch.”

        • You really should devote yourself to more substantive issues, such as whether The Animated Series should be taken as canonical.

          • No brainer. Yes.*

            *I define canon as featuring Shatner and mini-skirts on the ladies.

      • annoyed

        and this past year since you posted, your 4.6 would get eaten alive by a bolt on ecoboost.

    • So you can get the GT brakes, line lock, and launch control with this car. So, uh, theres that point. And COBB puts way too much time in R&D and testing for the kit to be unreliable.

  • Tiller188

    Nothing of any real substance to add, but I wanted to note that there’s just something so nice about seeing a longitudinally-mounted engine. Sure, we see it all the time with V8s and the like, but a longitudinally-mounted I-4 is a rarity anymore. (Actually…Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the EcoBoost Mustang, Mazda Miata (yeah, yeah, MX5), its forthcoming Fiat cousin…anything else? Did the Ecoboost 4 make it into any trucks?)

    • Dean Bigglesworth

      Longitudinally mounted tractor engines are becoming more common as Merc / BMW / Jag etc. replaces six cylinders with turbo fours. Also more four pot diesels.

  • Also yes, fucked up the ’66 thing.

  • Matt

    Sn95s are ugly!?!? Couldn’t disagree more, especially the new edge variety.

    • annoyed

      ugly AND slow.