Packed With Power
Ford Performance Parts releases the first of three Mustang GT Power Packs
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Owners of 2015-2017 Mustang GTs who have been waiting for a naturally aspirated power package from the factory can start to rejoice. Ford Performance Parts has just released the first of three Power Packs for the latest 5.0-liter Mustangs and the other two are on the way in short order.
The entry-level Power Pack 1 (PN M-9603-M8; $539) just became available and it includes a high-flow K&N panel air filter for the stock airbox and a specially engineered calibration that is said to deliver peak gains of 13 horsepower and 16 lb-ft of torque, while picking up as much as 40 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm.
This is a true performance calibration that delivers full performance during shifts with the loud pedal to the floor on manual-trans cars and optimized shift schedules on auto cars. Either configuration allows rearend gear ratio changes of up to 4.09:1. Moreover these cals work with 91-octane or better fuels and carry a warranty.
To find out more about the benefits of this Power Pack—and the upcoming stage 2 and 3 packs—we spoke with Ford Performance Parts’ Drag Racing Parts and Competition Manager Jesse Kershaw about what goes into these calibration and hardware packages.
“There are several stages of development. It starts by laying out the functions and determining if those can be done with only calibration or if there are software changes needed as well,” Jesse explained. Often calibration can get it done but we opt to make software enhancements because it’s more robust. Changing software is something only Ford can do. Calibration is like changing the document, software is changing the program you’re seeing the document in.”
Having the ability to create new software definitely gives Ford Performance the power to add new features and facets to its calibrations, but no matter how involved the changes are they must all be tested to the same type of standards that a factory calibration would undergo.
“From there we start to write software and base calibration. Once we feel we’ve got a basic grasp we will take in to the climate chamber. This allows our calibrators to map across different temperatures and pressures for the various driving conditions expected, from the great north to the desert,” he said.
Once the performance side of things is programmed, it is crucial for Ford Performance to ensure that its calibrations also meet today’s emissions standards.
“After the calibration team is convinced we are dialed-in we may run durability or we may go right to emissions testing. Usually we will run both simultaneously because the certification process can be very long,” Jesse said. “Often we will use a third party facility that specialized in writing CARB submissions and reports to save time. However these facilities are pricy and difficult to schedule so we will run a pre-test sequence in a Ford lab to make sure we’re on target. If we’re not it’s back to the drawing board.”
When Ford Performance wraps its testing, the calibrations are submitted for testing by the California Air Resources Board while it continues hardware durability testing. The approval process for a CARB executive order usually takes about 90 days, which is also time for the in-house hardware testing to wrap. Once it all comes together the packages go on sale like the Power Pack 1 just did.
“The big benefits for PP1 is that it’s emissions legal, has the Ford Performance Warranty when installed by an authorized installer such as a dealer, and allows the customer to change their gear ratio which I know hasn’t been easy with the new cars,” Jesse said. “It also makes respectable pickups in horsepower and torque, especially low-end.”
If you want even more power courtesy of more hardware, you’ll have to wait a bit longer, but Ford Performance Parts is wrapping up the development of Power Pack 2 and 3 for the 2015-2017 Mustang GT. The former includes a GT350 cold air intake, a GT350 throttle body, and a throttle body adapter. It is available with (PN M-9603-M8A) and without (PN M-9603-M50) a calibration. If you chose the calibration this combo is said to deliver a whopping gain of 40 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm while producing peak-to-peak gains of 21 horsepower and 24 lb-ft of torque. It will also carry a CARB EO number and is said to begin shipping on September 30.
For even bigger gains, the Power Pack 3 (PN M-9452-M8) is set to release on Halloween and it includes the aforementioned CAI and throttle body paired with the GT350 intake manifold. Combined with the CARB-legal calibration this package is said to deliver peak-to-peak gains of 37 horsepower and 5 lb-ft of torque, but it really sings at 7,500 where it picks up 60 horsepower.
The Mustang GT systems are just the beginning for the Ford Performance team. Next up is a Power Pack for the turbo-four.
“An EcoBoost Mustang cal with our new cold-air kit is on the cusp of being released,” Jesse added. “It uses a modified GT350 airbox so it looks OE and picks up significant horsepower and big torque similar to what we gain on the Focus ST calibration.”
Having experienced that Focus ST cal ourselves, we can say that such a gain on the Mustang should feel great.
The calibrations included with latest Ford Performance Parts Power Packs for the 2015+ Mustang require you to have a laptop with an Internet connection to deliver the tune via the included ProCal tool.