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2018 FORD MUSTANG ECOBOOST

Putting the New 10A to the Test
We`ve tested nearly half a dozen first-gen EcoBoost Mustangs around here, so we`re pretty familiar with how the car drives and performs. The 2018 model, a midlife refresh, has picked up a 10-speed automatic, an extra 30 lb-ft of torque, and a whole lot more attitude.
To date, the EcoBoost-equipped Mustang has been a confident performer, especially equipped with the optional Performance package. In a comparison test against the turbo four-cylinder Camaro, I wrote it ``can be driven as fast as its motor will carry it down a winding road with complete confidence.`` Apparently, that`s too tame for the Mustang engineering team. This new car drives like it has something to prove.

It`s obvious the moment you start driving the car hard. The optional limited-slip differential locks up aggressively, and the optional summer tires don`t always have the grip to handle it. You must be careful with the throttle in tight corners; it will try to put all 350 lb-ft down at once and pop you sideways. Leave the stability control on until you`re familiar with the car because it`ll let you rotate more than you expect before it steps in. This car now requires a delicate touch. Manhandling it turns a race horse into a bucking bronco.

You can make life easier on yourself by staying away from the Sport+ and Race driving modes. Both make the throttle hyperaggressive and the steering too heavy, making it needlessly difficult to drive the car smoothly. Those modes also lock out the selectable steering settings, so you can`t customize the car to your taste. Sport or Custom modes are best but don`t let you change the firmness of the optional magnetorheological dampers, which work best in Sport+ and Race. In Sport and Custom, they leave the car underdamped and a little too bouncy for serious driving.

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