Kicking off Project Samhain with intake, exhaust, and tuning mods
Photos by SID297 and Stacy Stangz
Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be on a website with the word performance in its name if we weren’t always looking for something to give us a competitive edge. That’s where we find ourselves with our project 2015 Mustang EcoBoost. It was time to break the seal and get our hands dirty under the hood. Fortunately, when you start with a turbocharged direct injection engine with variable valve timing the returns for your modding efforts tend to be rewarded quickly.
Though the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is a new addition to the Mustang powerplant lineup we decided that the best place to start would be with an age-old performance part cocktail (the classics never go out of style); an intake, tune, and exhaust. It’s a combination that has been prevalent in the Mustang world for decades with various levels of success on different platforms. However, based on past EcoBoost projects we’ve taken part in, we knew that we had massive upside potential on our hands. Replacing everything stock in front of and behind the twin-scroll turbo, this was going to be fun.
You can see our new combo in action and get our driving impressions right here…
For our intake we turned to the induction experts at Airaid. Their CAI for the EcoBoost, as with all the company’s kits, are entirely complete and of excellent quality. The inclusion of billet aluminum hose nipples, stainless band clamps, and silicone couplers is particularly nice. Some intake kits cut corners on these ancillary pieces, but Airaid insists on quality components throughout. To top it off we elected to go for Airaid’s brand-new Black dry-flow filter (PN 452-326; $441.99). It’s a nice change of pace from the red and blue filters we are so accustomed to seeing.
Since Airaid was working on getting air into the engine, we turned to the exhaust gurus at Kooks to open up the other side. The crew at Kooks worked their magic and whipped up a 100-percent stainless turbo-back off-road exhaust system. None of the stock Ford piping remains. It all starts with an AmericanMuscle.com-exclusive cat-less 3-inch downpipe (PN 11533100; $444.99) that splits into dual 2.5-inch pipes flowing through a set of Kooks oval race mufflers before exiting through 4-inch splash cut double walled tips (PN 11534200; $1,399.99 ). The mufflers feature a straight-through design and the piping is 304 stainless steel. Eliminating back pressure was certainly a priority here. This system simply oozes quality, and to see it all you have to do is take one look at the welds and the stamped Y-pipe.
Speaking of sensations, in factory form the EcoBoost Mustang fails to deliver the sensory impressions I expect from a performance car. I understand that Ford wants this car to conform to the average buyer’s tender sensibilities, but we at SVTP are anything but average. I want to feel the car working through the surfaces I touch. The MGW Race-Spec Shifter we installed a few months back transformed the shifter into a fully integrated part of the transmission, which helped the cause quite a bit. However, the Kooks exhaust system took the sensory experience to a completely different level.
We’ve told you about the intake and exhaust, but the Holy Trinity of Mustang mods would not be complete without tuning. That’s where Livernois Motorsports came into the picture in a big way. Livernois, by way of tuner Dan Millen, jumped into the EcoBoost tuning market from day one. They’ve held pretty much every EcoBoost-related record you can imagine and are definitely not slowing down.
For our 2015 Mustang, they sent us their standard tuning device along with something very special. SVTP was the first to receive the privilege of running Livernois’ experimental Stage 2 tune. You can purchase their Stage 1 tune (PN LPP631123; $599.99) today, but the Stage 2 is an entirely different animal. The Deuce is not yet available to the public. It’s raw, it’s mean, it’s supremely powerful, and it might just bite you. This tune is not for the casual user, it’s not a finished product, so you can’t buy it. Never being ones to shy away from a challenge there’s no way we weren’t going to jump at the chance to be on the cutting edge of EcoBoost tuning development.
That brings us to the Airaid intake. We returned the ECU to its stock calibration and gave the rollers another spin. Perplexed by lack of improvement with the Airaid and stock calibration we decided to throw the Stage 2 Livernois tune in the mix. It’s plain to see that the Kooks, Livernois, and Airaid Combo puts down a huge amount of power for a mere 2.3-liter. We’re still searching for a reason why the Airaid intake did not perform as expected, and we have a few ideas we will be exploring. We have seen many other use this same intake and be able to show power gains. It’s very possible that there is something unique with our setup that is preventing it from performing to its potential. However, it does look and sound awesome. The added compressor sounds from the EcoBoost’s snail are alone worth the price of admission.
Just throwing on all these mods on one of our 2015 project Mustangs and heading down the road would be all well and good. However, this is SVTP. We pride ourselves on providing the most complete, accurate, and verifiable data/reviews anywhere. That’s where our friends at Pro Dyno in Fort Mill, South Carolina, provide support. Dan, Paul, and Bad Bad Leroy Brown are always prepared for whatever weird project we may bring their way. This day was no exception. They offered their services, along with their chassis dyno, to help us on our quest for more power. Because we live by Mr. Shelby’s axiom that “too much power is almost enough.”
Finally, I must say that the Livernois tune is the decadent icing on an already delicious cake. Not only is the tuner itself incredibly simple to update via the Internet, the tunes themselves flat-make serious power. As it’s been with all EcoBoost engines, the secret to mega-boosts in power is all in the tune and Livernois has been at the forefront of Ford’s new turbo engines from the beginning. However, the Livernois tunes aren’t only about making big steam, they also have impeccable street manners. No surging throttle, no hanging idle, no dead spots. Dan’s tunes are simply spot on. The only complaint I have is that the tuner itself is a bit rudimentary by modern standards and it lacks datalogging capabilities. However, the guys at Livernois told me that they have something big coming down the pipeline to address those minor issues. All I know is that as long as Dan is loading his magnificent tunes into the device whatever they come up with will be a hit.
In the end, we put down 339.18 horsepower and 439.29 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels with the oldest mod combination in the book thanks to Livernois, Kooks, Airaid, and our awesome hosts Pro Dyno. We have many other installs we’re working on with the SVTP EcoBoost Mustang, so keep checking Front Page for the latest updates. You never know that we might be working on.