Four Cylinder Pony Cars Set To Return

There have been some rumblings over the past few weeks that the 2015 Mustang – which will be all-new, not heritage styled, and smaller and lighter than the current car – will drop its base 3.7 liter V6 in favor of an EcoBoost four cylinder.  Thinking back to the many dark days of pony car powertrains (with the likes of 105-horsepower 2.3 liter four cylinders under the hoods of Mustangs and 90-horsepower 2.5 liters under the hoods of Camaros), does this mean that more-stringent CAFE standards are going to kill the fun that these cars are currently delivering by the truckload?

In a word, no.  If the rumors are true, the four cylinder EcoBoost Mustang will displace 2.3 liters and produce about 330 horsepower in an engine shared with the Europe-only Focus RS.  With direct injection and twin turbos per the EcoBoost formula, the engine should offer a nearly lag-free experience for Mustang drivers as well as a substantial boost in torque like only a turbo can provide.

Don’t expect the V8 to disappear, though.  It’s almost a certainty that Ford will find a way to fit its beloved Coyote V8 into the Mustang’s product plans for many years in the future.  The V8 just sounds and feels so good, and has such a special place in Mustang lore, that it has to stay there.  With direct injection also in the V8’s eventual future, expect a moderate horsepower bump and a corresponding economy improvement, though not as dramatic as the one we’ll see from the move from the 3.7 to the 2.3 liter EcoBoost.

Across town, GM is not sitting around waiting for Ford to eat its lunch.  Expect the next-generation Camaro to be considerably smaller than the current model, which is of course based on a full size sedan’s architecture.  Instead, the sixth-generation Camaro will be built on the Alpha platform, which underpins the about-to-be-launched Cadillac ATS and which will also spawn the third-generation CTS in another year or two.

Want a hint of what the future holds for the Camaro?  Look no further than the Chevrolet Code 130R concept shown in Detroit this past January.  The Code 130R, as we said at the time, is likely underpinned by Alpha as well, and we also said that if you want to get a hint of the next Camaro, look no further than this car.  We have heard that Alpha will accommodate a small block V8 (and why wouldn’t it?  The small block V8 is no longer than a four cylinder and quite a bit narrower than a DOHC V6, both of which fit into Alpha), so look for the Camaro to continue with a V8 in its next iteration as well.

Unlike the last tme these two iconic names had anemic four cylinders under their hoods, look for enthusiasts to be quite excited for these new powertrains.  The great thing about turbocharged engines is how easy it is to tune them to add power.  With 330 horsepower in stock form (with a full warranty), imagine what dialing in a bit more boost might do.  Four hundred?  Four hundred fifty?  I’m certain we won’t be missing the V6s in a few years, but the V8 may become redundant, other than for sound and nostalgia reasons.  We’ll have to see what happens.  How do you think this will play out?  Will we see the return of the Mustang SVO, in both spirit and in name?

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. in online discussions elsewhere, the consensus is that there’ll be not only an SVO-ish 330hp 2.3EB (probably a bit higher $$$ than the 3.7v6) but also some entry 4cyl … 2.0EB? 2.3 n/a?
    & 250hp would be more than enough for a “secretaries’ car”

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