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2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP First Drive: The Anti-Mustang

motor1 logo motor1 9/20/2019 Jeff Perez
a car driving on a road: 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Pack: First Drive

This isn’t a Mustang, it’s a lightweight sports car in muscle car drag.

Like most muscle cars, the Ford Mustang has always been about one thing: Straight-line speed. And yes, while the company still emphasizes the importance of quarter mile times and sprints to 60, the Blue Oval now puts extensive engineering effort into the Mustang’s handling, as well. That’s obvious from a few models (like the GT350R, for example), but none as attainable than the new Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Pack, or HPP.

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This is the most agile version of today’s four-cylinder Ford Mustang. With handling components from the GT Performance pack and Focus RS engine underhood, the Mustang HPP blends muscle car-worthy straight-line speed with lightweight sports car-like handling. It’s an impressive extension to the Ford Mustang’s historic performance portfolio.

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Say My Name, Say My Name

The title "Mustang EcoBoost High Performance package" is accurate when talking about performance, but the only distinguishable feature on the exterior is an inconspicuous "High Performance 2.3L" badge on the side fender. Outside of that, this looks like your run-of-the-mill four-cylinder Mustang with slightly different wheels, quad exhaust tips, and a few more fun colors: Grabber Lime, Red Hot Metallic, and Twister Orange, included. 

The optional Handling package ($1,995) butches up the styling a bit. There are new Mustang GT-esque wheels, a Mustang GT front splitter and spoiler on the outside, and a pair of Recaro seats in the cabin. And HPP models get a chassis number plate (one of 9,999) on the passenger-side dash distinguishing it from other Mustangs. 

But overall, the general Mustang formula carries over to the HPP’s insides. This includes some cheap plastic littering the dash, lots of nicer leather (on the higher trim models) covering the seats and door panels, and the same attractive 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster and super-cool toggle switches that are available on higher-trim Mustangs. However, it's what's underhood that matters most.

The stickier Corsa tires (265/40R vs 255/40R) and 0.9-inch wider track, along with the 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle, give this Mustang loads of gripping power. Engineers quote a lofty 1.0 G of maximum lateral grip with the Handling pack. For reference, the Shelby GT350 does 1.09 Gs on the skidpad. And the six-speed manual, as equipped on our Handling pack tester, is pretty slick to operate, not to mention it’s a major improvement over the 10-speed box. 

The Mustang EcoBoost HPP with the Handling package offers serious gains over the standard HPP in the cornering department. Up the twisty pavement of California 1 state road, the car gives off unyielding confidence.

Attainable Agility

The cheapest way to get into a Mustang EcoBoost HPP is by purchasing the $26,670 base coupe first. Adding the high-po package tacks an extra $4,995 onto that, bringing the total cost to a reasonable $31,665 (before taxes and fees). Assuming you want the Handling package as well (which, you do), then that'll add another $1,995 to the sticker. In all, the Mustang EcoBoost HPP with the Handling pack will set you back a mere $33,660 before a la cart options. That's an extremely reasonable price for a car this good.

Research the Ford Mustang on MSN Autos

The Focus RS engine and Mustang GT Performance pack's handling bits turn the merely okay Mustang EcoBoost into something great. Not only is the HPP genuinely quick, it's agile and sharp, as well, and comparable to other great-handling cars in the class. It's no straight-line menace like the Mustang GT, but fans of flingable, four-cylinder sports cars now have a brilliant new prospect in the EcoBoost HPP.

2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Pack
EngineTurbocharged 2.3-Liter Four-Cylinder
Output332 Horsepower / 350 Pound-Feet
Transmission10-Speed Automatic / 6-Speed Manual
Drive TypeRear-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH4.5 Seconds (est.)
Maximum speed155 Miles Per Hour
Weight3,632 Pounds
Fuel Economy20 City / 27 Highway / 23 Combined
Seating Capacity4
Cargo Volume13.5 Cubic Feet
Base Price$31,665
As-Tested Price$43,165

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