Mustang – a hybrid future?


Is the soul of a muscle car in its engine?

The Ford Mustang is an iconic piece of American muscle that is loved the world over for its good looks, raw-sounding engine note and RWD lairiness.

When the new Mustang launched in the UK, it came with a noisy 5.0l V8 engine, exactly what you’d expect to be under the bonnet. But there was also the option for a 2.3l Ecoboost engine, the same as what you’ll find powering the Ford Focus RS.

There’s nothing wrong with an Ecoboost engine, and the 350hp it gives to the Focus RS is delightful but does it really work in a Mustang?

The petrolhead community was up in arms when the turbocharged engine was announced for the Mustang and even though we’ve had plenty of time to get used to the concept, it still upsets a lot of people.

I recently had the pleasure of testing the 5.0l V8 version of the Mustang and upon seeing pictures, plenty of people asked me if it had ‘the right engine’. As if the 2.3l version isn’t a real Mustang.

This continuing uproar over an engine that’s not a gas-guzzling V8 makes me wonder if the soul of a muscle car comes from its engine. I’d be inclined to say yes but the world is changing and ever-more-stringent emissions regulations mean manufacturers such as Ford are forced to come up with more environmentally friendly ways to power their cars.

The power delivery from the V8 is wonderful and the noise will stay with me for the rest of my life but I wonder if nostalgia for these engines is clouding our judgement when it comes to this new world order.

It’s no secret that Ford is looking to release a hybrid version of its muscle car in 2020 and a recent patent request from the manufacturer would suggest we’re looking at an AWD V8 hybrid muscle car. The beloved V8 powering the rear wheels with electric motors handling the front wheels, by the looks of things.

The patent application may not specifically mention the Mustang but the drawings clearly show a V8. When you couple this with Ford’s The Future is Built advert that alludes to a futuristic Mustang, the future of the pony car looks pretty clear.

When first faced with news, I felt a fleeting sense of the same anger people feel over a 2.3l turbo Mustang but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

No matter how we feel about a beautiful V8 (or any internal combustion engine, for that matter), alone it doesn’t have much longevity in the UK or the rest of Europe. Turn a Mustang into a hybrid, however, and the V8 can suddenly live on, bypassing any petrol/diesel bans that will come into force in 2040.

When Ford announced its 2020 hybrid Mustang, the language was vague. It talked about ‘V8 power and even more low-end torque.’ One would assume this meant similar power to a V8 with that beautiful instant torque of an electric motor. 

Now, it seems, this actually meant a V8 engine plus all that tasty low-end torque.

Think about it, ridiculous electric power to get you off the line then all the gorgeous roar and power of a V8 as you pick up some speed. 

As a petrolhead who is also fairly thrifty, I can’t help but think about how much money you’d save on fuel. With increasing fuel prices, the cost of running any large engine is starting to put a lot of people off. The thought of a V8 coupled with an electric motor, which could be used for running to the shops or during a slow-moving daily commute, is actually quite appealing.

The engine certainly plays a big part in the feel of a muscle car. These ridiculous beasts are supposed to have large, noisy engines that lend themselves to a little roundabout drift or burn out but with bans on the sale of internal combustion engines coming into play across Europe, the V8 was under threat.

I’m sure a lot of people will be horrified by the idea of a silent-running electric motor powering something that looks like it should make a lot more noise but we are moving towards a more electrified world and to finally have information that suggests the V8 is here to stay makes this petrolhead very happy.