Tech: EcoBoost Mustang Turbo Upgrade

0 VMP EcoBoost Turbo Upgrade Featured

The EgoBoost

VMP Tuning ramps up its 2.3 Mustang with an FFTec turbo upgrade

By Steve Turner
Photos by Steve Turner and courtesy of VMP Tuning

When we last left VMP Tuning Business Manager BJ McCarty’s 2015 EcoBoost Mustang project, he had just picked up some nice gains with bolt-on upgrades and tuning. Well, as evidenced by his big-power Shelby GT500, BJ is not one to leave his rides mildly modified. In preparation for the EcoBoost Battle at the NMRA World Finals, he opted to turn his EcoBoost Mustang into an EgoBoost Mustang thanks to a turbo upgrade from FFTec, a methanol system from AEM, and a custom Cobb Tuning calibration.

Naturally the first step is removing the induction and unbolting the factory turbo. Yes, the stock turbos are small, which is why they are so responsive. However, the trade-off for that low-end performance is limited performance at higher rpm.
Naturally the first step is removing the induction and unbolting the factory turbo. Yes, the stock turbos are small, which is why they are so responsive. However, the trade-off for that low-end performance is limited performance at higher rpm.

“We’re always finding new ways to make more power. When we picked up the 2015 Eco Mustang, we immediately went to JLT, SCT, Gibson and others for some quick modding to add a little fire to the four-cylinder,” he explained. “Once we got a taste of that, it was our mission to find something streetable and an absolute ball to drive, whether on a track or just lurking around looking for the unsuspecting, mildly modded Coyote.”

As you know, VMP Tuning worked with partners to create a TVS supercharger of its own design for V-8 Mustangs. When the time came to work on a turbo upgrade for the EcoBoost market only seemed natural to work with a company that specializes in small turbo engines. That partner is FFtec Motorsports, which offers a variety of EcoBoost upgrades.

The factory twin-scroll turbo receives exhaust flow from two ports on the manifold. Most aftermarket upgrades are not twin-scroll units, so they require an adapter to mate with the factory manifold.
The factory twin-scroll turbo receives exhaust flow from two ports on the manifold. Most aftermarket upgrades are not twin-scroll units, so they require an adapter to mate with the factory manifold.

“As soon as it was announced that the Mustang would come equipped with a four-cylinder EcoBoost motor, it was a no-brainer for us! …This car was sure to be a winner among enthusiasts.” FFtec Auto Shop Manager Anthony Cardinale said. “Combining our experience with building high-output engine assemblies and custom turbo systems, we set out to make the EcoBoost Mustang a fierce competitor; especially when pitted against its V-8 counterparts.”

“They have an awesome rep with imports and we saw they’d jumped in feet first with an Eco manual, using a Borg Warner EFR turbo. When we talked, we saw it as a great marriage since we have dyno capability anywhere we go (as well as in house) plus both local and ‘on tour’ track opportunities like Bowling Green for its first outing,” BJ said. “Anthony at FFTec really knows his stuff on the configuration and calibration end, using the Cobb platform. We’ve gotten to know one another quite well through remote sessions; Laptops and cell phones are us.”

Here’s a comparison of the stock turbo (left) and the Borg-Warner EFR 7670 at the heart of the FFtec upgrade. EFR stands for Engineered For Racing, and this unit is capable of supporting over 500 horsepower. Its turbine rides on dual ceramic bearings and the turbo includes water-cooled fittings, an integrated wastegate, and other details that make it a bolt-on upgrade for the EcoBoost Mustang.
Here’s a comparison of the stock turbo (left) and the Borg-Warner EFR 7670 at the heart of the FFtec upgrade. EFR stands for Engineered For Racing, and this unit is capable of supporting over 500 horsepower. Its turbine rides on dual ceramic bearings and the turbo includes water-cooled fittings, an integrated wastegate, and other details that make it a bolt-on upgrade for the EcoBoost Mustang.

“BJ actually reached out to me via e-mail. He had been doing some research with regard to the new EcoBoost Mustang, and we prominently came up as the leader in performance for the chassis,” Anthony added. “Once we were able to agree on a plan and goal for his Mustang, we set to work getting him our hardware, and calibration support as quickly as possible.”

VMP invited us to document the installation and testing of this product and the results were quite impressive. Using the AEM methanol injection to supplement the fuel system so as not to overtax the stock injectors, the addition of the FFtec turbo upgrade increased the output of BJ’s 2.3-liter Mustang to more than 416 horsepower and 396 lb-ft of torque. See it in action right here…

“What’s not to like? The final product looks awesome. The fitment is great and it makes over 400 rear-wheel horsepower through the stock automatic! It got a lot of eyes on it at NMRA Bowling Green…and not just from the EcoBoost Battle competition,” BJ said. “Purely from a drag race standpoint, we’re working on some things to help it get on the boil a little more quickly. We were challenged at BG by a stock converter not wanting to go beyond 2,500 rpm and a turbo that likes 3,000-plus rpm a lot. That made for less-than-acceptable 60-foot times, but the trap speeds were remarkable! We saw multiple passes at 116 mph at full weight; all the seats, full exhaust, etc. It was the only full-weight car there to do that!”

In order to bolt the EFR turbo to the EcoBoost 2.3-liter, FFtec created this stainless steel adapter, which makes it a snap. However, because of the angle of the adapter, you will want to start the nut on the upper right before you seat the adapter on the manifold.
In order to bolt the EFR turbo to the EcoBoost 2.3-liter, FFtec created this stainless steel adapter, which makes it a snap. However, because of the angle of the adapter, you will want to start the nut on the upper right before you seat the adapter on the manifold.

The EgoBoost’s top speed is definitely impressive, but what’s even more impressive is how it feels behind the wheel. BJ let us take the car for a spin and it’s perfectly docile at low speed, but lay into the throttle and when it hits 3,000 rpm the power swells and it keeps pulling. It’s not a blown Coyote, but it sure feels good. Good enough to make us giggle.

“It’s a hoot,” BJ said of the new combo. “It has stock like driveability, a massive rush of power as you roll into the sweet spot of the EFR 7670 turbo, and with over 250 pounds less weight than a comparably powered S550 GT, it’s simply quick. Oh, and we drove it to and from Bowling Green, some 1,500 miles, and averaged 30.7 mpg at, well, slightly higher than posted speed limits.”

With the adapter installed, the stage is set to bolt on the EFR turbo and connect the oil feed, oil return line and water-cooling lines.
With the adapter installed, the stage is set to bolt on the EFR turbo and connect the oil feed, oil return line and water-cooling lines.

Naturally, this isn’t the end of the line for the EgoBoost modding. BJ and the VMP team plan to keep refining the combination for more performance.

“…The smaller EFR is good for around 400 at the tire. The 7670 is capable of 500-plus horsepower but spools higher. We are also looking at a higher-stall converter and stronger halfshafts, strictly for drag race purposes,” BJ added. “At the end of the day, we’re getting a package together that falls in line with our business model; Providing late-model Ford enthusiasts with fully researched and developed parts, accessories, calibrations and advice. We specialize in cars that are completely driveable on the street and competitive on the track with no compromises.”

BJ bolted up the turbo, attached the oil and cooling lines, and clamped on the downpipe, which accepts the factory oxygen sensor. The finished install looks pretty factory.
BJ bolted up the turbo, attached the oil and cooling lines, and clamped on the downpipe, which accepts the factory oxygen sensor. The finished install looks pretty factory.

We know BJ is far from finished with his project, and we can expect to see more EcoBoost gear coming from FFtec as well.

“We are currently working to complete the testing of our soon to be released throttle body, and port injection systems. With its conception, we also set out to develop our own controller (ECU) that will operate it. When testing and development is complete, our controller will also have the expanded support of 3D methanol injection modeling and control, as well as failsafe functionality,” Anthony added. “Soon, you will find us hard at work with the new Focus RS! We cannot wait to get our hands on that car! All-wheel-drive, turbocharged four-cylinder?! Something about 600-plus horsepower in that chassis just screams exciting to us! The future is bright for the EcoBoost line-up when working with us at FFTEC Motorsports.”

Until the next installment, let’s see how the FFtec turbo upgrade, AEM methanol injection, and Cobb Tuning combine to enhance VMP’s EgoBoost project.

The kind includes a heat insulation wrap and a turbo blanket from Design Engineering Inc, which shields the engine compartment from the turbo heat.
The kit includes a heat insulation wrap and a turbo blanket from Design Engineering Inc, which shields the engine compartment from the turbo heat.
Rounding out the back side of the FFtec kit is a 304 stainless steel downpipe.
Rounding out the back side of the FFtec kit is a 304 stainless steel downpipe.
To ease the installation of the new inlet, BJ removed the coolant reservoir and installed the silicone coupler on the EFR turbo’s inlet.
To ease the installation of the new inlet, BJ removed the coolant reservoir and installed the silicone coupler on the EFR turbo’s inlet.
Feeding the larger turbo is a 3.5-inch aluminum inlet tube, which puts a high-flow conical filter into the inner fender where it can pick up fresh air.
Feeding the larger turbo is a 3.5-inch aluminum inlet tube, which puts a high-flow conical filter into the inner fender where it can pick up fresh air.
Here’s the completed FFtec turbo kit, which transformed BJ’s 2015 Mustang into The EgoBoost.
Here’s the completed FFtec turbo kit, which transformed BJ’s 2015 Mustang into The EgoBoost.
You probably noticed the big AEM tank in the finished engine shot. The issue you run into with the more boost afforded by the larger turbo is the limit of the factory fuel system. To keep the injector duty cycles manageable and the fuel rail full, BJ added an methanol injection system from AEM to augment the fuel system. It features this adjustable, boost-sensitive controller.
You probably noticed the big AEM tank in the finished engine shot. The issue you run into with the more boost afforded by the larger turbo is the limit of the factory fuel system. To keep the injector duty cycles manageable and the fuel rail full, BJ added a methanol injection system from AEM to augment the fuel system. It features this adjustable, boost-sensitive controller.
To dial in the larger turbo and supplemental methanol injection, BJ is working with Anthony Cardinale at FFTec to calibrate The EgoBoost using Cobb Tuning software and the company’s sleek AccesSport handheld device.
To dial in the larger turbo and supplemental methanol injection, BJ is working with Anthony Cardinale at FFTec to calibrate The EgoBoost using Cobb Tuning software and the company’s sleek AccesSport handheld device.
After dialing in the tune with Anthony from FFtec, BJ flashed his PCM with a high-performance calibration. One of the cool things about the Cobb tuning package is that it allows you to toggle between calibrations already loaded in the PCM using the factory steering wheel controls. How cool is that?
After dialing in the tune with Anthony from FFtec, BJ flashed his PCM with a high-performance calibration. One of the cool things about the Cobb tuning package is that it allows you to toggle between calibrations already loaded in the PCM using the factory steering wheel controls. How cool is that?
With the installation complete it was time to hit VMP’s in-house Dynojet to see what the EgoBoost was putting down.
With the installation complete it was time to hit VMP’s in-house Dynojet to see what the EgoBoost was putting down.
When we last left VMP Tuning’s EcoBoost Mustang it was putting down 302 horsepower and 355 lb-ft of torque thanks to a cold-air intake, a cat-back exhaust, and a Levels Performance intercooler. Save for the intercooler, much of that has changed with the turbo kit, so we are comparing the latest mods with the stock combination with just a custom tune to see what you gain by moving immediately to the FFtec turbo upgrade and supplemental methanol. In this case, the car picked up 171.29 horsepower and 138.04 lb-ft of torque.
When we last left VMP Tuning’s EcoBoost Mustang it was putting down 302 horsepower and 355 lb-ft of torque thanks to a cold-air intake, a cat-back exhaust, and a Levels Performance intercooler. Save for the intercooler, much of that has changed with the turbo kit, so we are comparing the latest mods with the stock combination with just a custom tune to see what you gain by moving immediately to the FFtec turbo upgrade and supplemental methanol. In this case, the car picked up 171.29 horsepower and 138.04 lb-ft of torque.
Regular readers know we like to examine a sampling of data in chart for to highlight what’s happening under the curve. As you can see, the bigger turbo does give up some thrust on the bottom end, but it more than makes up for it with a far superior top-end charge.
Regular readers know we like to examine a sampling of data in chart for to highlight what’s happening under the curve. As you can see, the bigger turbo does give up some thrust on the bottom end, but it more than makes up for it with a far superior top-end charge.

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