Skip to main content

A Diesel S550 Ford Mustang is Taking Globalization a Step Too Far

While the 2015 Ford Mustang has been delicately designed in a manner that would appeal to sports car buyers around the world, the possibility of a factory built diesel powered Mustang is taking the push for globalization and efficiency a step too far – even though it would probably be a pretty powerful package.

The 2015 Ford Mustang has been controversial since well before last week’s debut both for the new exterior styling and the 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine option. Those folks who are outraged by the exterior likely would have thrown the same fit if the new Mustang had looked different in any way from the previous generation and in the long run, I have seen far more positive than negative on the new look. As for the fuss over the addition of a turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine, it can certainly be argued that one of the ultimate American performance cars shouldn’t have a 4-cylinder engine at all but when you look through the history of the Mustang, there have been plenty of 4-cylinder options in the past that were nowhere near as powerful or efficient as the new 2.3L EcoBoost. Also, if you hate that the 2015 Mustang has a 4-cylinder engine option, you probably won’t be buying it anyway so what difference does it really make? Not much…but the push for improved efficiency and globalization will have gone too far if Ford introduces a diesel engine option for the Mustang.

While speaking with Ford’s global powertrain boss Bob Fascetti at the Sydney Australia lunch of the 2015 Mustang Convertible, GoAuto learned that Ford has been looking at new options to make the Mustang lineup more efficient in the future. Fascetti explained that with the constant push for new fuel economy, Ford was considering options for the Mustang that included a hybrid version, a diesel version and new transmissions with 9 or 10 speeds. It seems that everything is coming out with a hybrid package these days so that wouldn’t be all that surprising and with vehicles on the market already with 9-speed transmissions, which also doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, there is just something that doesn’t sit right with me when thinking about a diesel powered Ford Mustang. I am not an anti-diesel person by any means and while I understand the need for both improved fuel economy and globalization – there needs to be a limit. Even though the heavy duty trucks from Ford, Ram and GM are all well known for their powerful diesel engine options, there is something that seems distinctly un-American about a diesel powered Mustang.

I should point out that I am well aware that there are some very impressive performance applications from other automakers around the world and a small turbodiesel engine in the 2015 Ford Mustang would probably offer pretty solid performance. We know that if nothing else, it would offer a ton of low end torque that would cater to the performance tastes of some drivers (particularly drag racers) while also offering what would probably be the best fuel economy of any American muscle car ever. I just can’t imagine being able to get over the chug of a diesel engine when I started it up or when I revved the engine sitting in traffic.

There is, of course, the possibility that the turbodiesel Ford Mustang would only be sold outside of North America but if the Mustang is sold around the world to people who want to own the American icon – does it really make sense to have a diesel engine under the hood? I don’t think so and I suspect that a great many people would agree. A turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission will certainly irritate the muscle car traditionalists who would prefer a 3-speed automatic and a carbureted V8 but there have been plenty of American performance cars in the past 30 years with a turbo 4. On the other hand, even a high performance diesel engine in the mighty Mustang would be pushing the “One Ford” program a bit too far – even for those of us who don’t fear change.

Source: GoAuto


2Na (not verified)    December 9, 2013 - 1:02PM

I'm sorry, I couldn't hear the author over the competing sounds of Hypocrisy and Right Wing nationalism.
I would HAPPILY throw down on a torque monster diesel Stang. I rocked a 70 302 Star shift mustang boss hardtop back in the day, btw. In no way does using a diesel make you a pinko Commie. Especially once you re-gear and blow one out.
Christ, I wish Toyota would finally bring the diesel Hilux to the states while we're at it. My Tacoma V6 doesn't have the pull power that those little indestructible monsters do.

Chris (not verified)    December 9, 2013 - 1:29PM

I don't see how using the latest technology to put the potential of cramming an even more massive amount of power under the hood of a sports car is "un-American." Do you feel patriotic that diesel purpose-built race cars from the likes of Audi have been dominating the sports racing world for many years now, while American makes have been falling behind?

Let me point out, as a form of evidence, that our "founding fathers" had no preference on gas vs. diesel. The technology didn't even exist until America did what it has always done best: innovate. Putting a diesel in a sports car is innovation. That's American, though possibly not as American as making that same muscle car into a pure electric. Leaning on "tradition" that is based in the last few decades is a failure to recognize that there was an America prior to the 1950's. It's time to rethink your idea of patriotism in terms of something actually patriotic.

You have hit one nail on the head: it is very consistent with American press (and disappointing to a motorhead from the Midwest, like me) can go pissing and moaning about something that they know nothing about. Thanks for reinforcing that awful stereotype!

John Goreham    December 9, 2013 - 3:25PM

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

Put diesel into the search box at Torque News and you will see that we have covered it extensively. We have compared the cost to operate vs gasoline *(Jetta vs Jetta) the fuel efficiency in cars where that matters most (Corolla beats all diesel competitors) and many other stories. It is the mainstream media that has it backwards.

Patrick Rall    December 9, 2013 - 3:57PM

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

I addressed the fact that there are plenty of high performance diesel vehicles and I also mentioned that a diesel Mustang would probably offer great performance. There just seems something unnatural about a Mustang that chugs like a diesel rather than roaring like an American V8.

John Goreham    December 9, 2013 - 3:23PM

In markets that artificially support diesel like Europe I can see this. In the US moving towards a fuel that outputs more CO2 per mile, more fine particulate pollution, and costs more to fuel per mile makes no sense at all.

Aaron Turpen    December 9, 2013 - 4:17PM

In reply to by John Goreham

I disagree, John. Diesel puts out more CO2, but since that's a questionable reason to limit it, let's look at your other points: diesel costs more per GALLON, but not necessarily more per MILE. It depends on the application, but having more energy per gallon than does gasoline, for most it seems it would end up on the better end. Unless you do only city driving, then things swap. The diesel Passat versus 5-cyl gasoline, for example, has more than 10mpg to its credit and, even accounting for after-treatment costs, is still cheaper per mile. Particulates in today's diesel engines, even big rigs, are next to nil by comparison thanks to scrubbing technologies and EGR. When I was driving over the road, my new 2006 Kenworth put out very little emissions. I could stand on the smoke stack and breathe normally while it was running. The trailer never had black on it from the stacks either. I saw far more smoke from the Rigmaster generator when I was parked than I ever saw from the stacks off the CAT15.

John Goreham    December 9, 2013 - 4:41PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

These are good things to debate, but can we all agree that the in-line 5 in that Passat is perhaps the crappiest engine installed in a mainstream mid-size family car :)? By comparison I offer the Mazda 6 with its 2.5 liter in-line 4 (40 mpg highway). If the Mazda 6 does come out with its diesel in the US we will have a great comparison then. The Ford guy says he is thinking of it for MPG improvements. Are there any examples of a car made by Ford (or Chevy or Dodge) with a diesel that ever had a lower cost per mile to operate than its top rated gasoline engine? The Cruze Eco gas has the same MPG combined that the diesel it brags about does. Diesel MPG advantages, like you say, are all very selective. You have to find an old tech gas engine to compare to a brand new diesel.
That said, anyone who buys a pony car with anything les than a V8 secretly hates themselves.

Aaron Turpen    December 9, 2013 - 10:52PM

In reply to by John Goreham

Yes, the in-5 is a horrible engine compared to what can be done with today's tech. I disagree on the Cruze Eco for one reason, though: I have yet to drive an "Eco" model that actually gets the mileage they claim it gets. Haven't driven the Cruze Eco, but I suspect it will be like all the others: hype with no payoff. The diesel, however, I have driven and unlike the Eco (if that engine does pay off in efficiency), it was actually fun to drive. Tons of get-up thanks to that low torque curve.

The Mazda6 will be an excellent comparison, you're right. That's comparing a high-compression gasoline to high-compression diesel on what is otherwise exactly the same platform. I drove the i-ELOOP 2.5L gas version for a week and it was phenomenal and makes it easy to get 40 mpg on the highway and I believe they've said they're only expecting a couple/three more MPG for the diesel.

Aaron Turpen    December 9, 2013 - 4:15PM

I just can't understand what the problem is here. Maybe I'm just not American enough or something, but how does a diesel engine in a Mustang somehow make the car less American? Seems like a senseless worry to me. I've driven diesel many, many times in vehicles of all shapes and sizes - some American, some not. It's only rarely not a good thing.

Aaron Turpen    December 10, 2013 - 11:45AM

In reply to by Patrick Rall

Is that important? That's like saying I have no place talking about foreign policy because I've never "been there" or asking why cops act like they do because I've "never been a cop." It's a lame argument that means nothing. I could ask you: How often do you go to the race track with your rear-drive performance car, Patrick? If you say anything less than "every weekend," you're wasting money on a car you only pretend is a performance machine because you don't actually USE that performance for anything. Right? Same logic.

I haven't owned any because I don't buy them. I drive them and get other people to give them to me for that. Why would I buy a car I don't have to buy? For the same reason I don't own a semi-truck. I drive them all the time, but don't own one. Why would I? Other people will let me drive theirs.

Besides, you're missing about 90% of the Mustang's actual market: people who drive them daily. They might "feel" like they're in Fast and Furious because they have one, but they don't actually DO anything with the car. For them, maybe having some fuel efficiency is a good thing. Maybe that's what they want, but they also want that feeling that they have a sports car. Given the low-end torque inherent in diesel, this would give that 90% the FEEL of a sports car at the light and stop sign - the places most of you wannabe racers get your jollies most of the time anyway.

Patrick Rall    December 10, 2013 - 8:05PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

For the records, I do spend tons of time at the track. Every vehicle that I own has routinely been raced including my trucks. My wife also races frequently...mostly all drag racing but Ive done a bit of road course and autocross racing in my days. There is a big difference between someone letting you take a spin in their car and spending week in and week out racing the cars, making payments and facing the damages done to the vehicle while racing. Admittedly, as I have gotten older, I race less but my rear wheel drive cars have all been down the track hundreds of times and I spent quite a few weekends this year at the track and as a result, Ive been in a variety of racing magazines including National Dragster and Mopar Muscle. No "wannabe" here.

In any case, it wasnt about questioning your place in the was about pointing out the fact that Ford isnt too worried about attracting people who have never owned a sports car. Sure, a small percentage of the soccer dad world will occasionally get permission to buy something that is fun to drive but at the end of the day, it is people like me and the massive group of Mustang enthusiasts who buy these cars...whether they race or not. Ford doesnt care if someone who sees no point in having a performance car wants or doesnt want something on a car like the Mustang. You admittedly arent interested in buying one and because of that, you are not in Ford's target audience.

Also, while you wouldnt understand this, owning a performance car is far more than just putting a few miles on a media car here and there. Some of us would rather not have a car that castrates us every time we get into it.

Aaron Turpen    December 11, 2013 - 12:26AM

In reply to by Patrick Rall

Well, apparently some people need a car to prop up their nethers. :) I feel no shame owning a vehicle that is useful rather than just "cool" but otherwise impractical. I don't need the biggest, baddest, most awesome vehicle to define me. I see cars for what they are: some are for performance, some for practicality, some for fun, some for a specific job. I take each one in turn and enjoy it. I can honestly say I had as much fun bouncing off rocks in the Nissan Frontier Pro4X this year as I did racing on the track in the Viper and GT-R. I found the VW Beetle Turbo to be as fun to drive as the Kia Sorento was to haul the family around in.

The great news is that with the beauty of Ford's Power of Choice, you performance lovers can have your big, thirsty cars but the people who just want the look and feel of a Mustang can have it with something else under the hood. Nobody loses.

Chris (not verified)    December 10, 2013 - 12:27PM

In reply to by Patrick Rall

I don't know about others, but I have owned a number of sports cars, foreign and domestic, rear and all-wheel drive (never owned a FWD car). One thing I can say for sure is that I was more impressed by the power diesel 3-series BMW than I was by the 333 BHP I-6 that was in my E46 M3, and that car wasn't even sold as a sports car.

For a variety historical reasons, diesels got pigeon-holed as dirty, loud, low-torque power plants that should only be used in trucks, tractors, and cheap-fuel-burning econoboxes. This thinking about the engines has persisted, even after the reasons have dissipated. Diesels can now run quiet and clean, and the combination of their low-end torque and the impossibility of detonation make for awesomely great fodder for the performance market.

Manufacturers that have shed the embarrassingly out-dated misconceptions of diesels have done amazing things. Look at the record of the Audi R10 TDI as a great case study. Nobody was plowing fields, towing 53' boxes of cargo, or hyper-miling between Paris and Munich in that beast -- it was being used to blow away the best gas-based performance engines that elite racing engineers were able to assemble. Who wouldn't want something like that under their hood? Maybe the fact that this innovation came from a German company makes it feel un-American, but try to tell Gates Performance that using diesels for high-powered automotive excess is un-American.

What confuses me about the article is that a writer exposed to all of this information wouldn't react in any way other than to ask "why did it take so long to do this?" or "why isn't Ford introducing the diesel Mustang in the US first?" The only un-American thing I can find in all of this is that this thing might be sold anywhere BUT the US market. Even if the point of putting a diesel in the car is for fuel economy instead of performance, I guarantee that the (American) diesel tuning companies would be all over it, making kits available that would make the GT models look like kids toys. That's what America does. Why not give it a chance?

CJ (not verified)    December 10, 2013 - 8:35AM

This writer couldn't be more wrong. Of course it makes sense for Ford to bring out a diesel Stang. This a global car and it will appeal to a new buyer who could care less about American sentimentality. This writer is still stuck in the 60s.

Patrick Rall    December 10, 2013 - 10:28AM

I find it amusing that in the thousands and thousands of people who have read this article in the last day, a handful are enraged by my comment about a diesel powered Mustang being un-American. At the same time, I would bet that the majority of the diesel lovers who are upset by that comment all drive slow, boring foreign vehicles - like the first commenter with his "I dont really need a truck so I bought a V6 Tacoma" pickup. Needless to say, Ford isnt all that worried about trying to convert a bunch of diesel VW station wagon owners into Mustang owners. Some drivers are born to drive in the right lane - which has been clearly displayed here.

But hey, some of you could probably ask your wives nicely and she might let you own something worth driving some day. In the meantime, enjoy your oil burners that struggle to top 100 miles per hour.

Thanks for commenting!

Aaron Turpen    December 10, 2013 - 11:48AM

In reply to by Patrick Rall

Guess what? Ford IS worried about converting those "other" drivers, Patrick. Otherwise, why would they fiddle with this car at all? Why not just keep making the same Mustang from 1965 over and over and over ad inifinitum without change? I mean, by your logic, that's who buys the car. Right? Steve McQueen wannabes? So why not keep pandering to that tiny, itty bitty market and forget everyone else?

Oh right. It's business. It's about sales.

Chris (not verified)    December 10, 2013 - 12:42PM

In reply to by Patrick Rall

Yes. I drive an oil burner that struggles to top... oh wait... I have never owned a vehicle that got more than 22 MPG, and that just happened to be (an admittedly un-American) BMW M3. My STi couldn't even come near to that mileage, especially when mods were done. The GTO was even worse. I don't get great fuel economy in my Tundra or Yukon, even though those are my daily drives, but that's because I have a very heavy foot. I guess you could say that my Harley is a 30 MPG "economy" vehicle, and I only get it past 100 once or twice a day. (That is a struggle, though -- my 6' 7" 320 lb. frame provides a fair amount of drag to overcome. Good catch, Pat!)

Denis Flierl    December 10, 2013 - 7:44PM

When I owned a distributing business, I drove a Cummins turbo diesel. From what I remember, I was the one in the fast lane going 80 mph pulling tons of weight and passing those gas-powered Mustangs going over Vail pass....

Patrick Rall    December 10, 2013 - 8:10PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Right...diesel engines are great for argument there. If I wanted a Mustang to pull a 10,000lb trailer and run 13s stock out of the box, that might be a great solution. However, if you were passing any cars with a fully loaded truck and trailer at 80 miles per hour, its because the other vehicles werent trying to go any faster. Let's be honest...its not like any Mustang built in the last two decades (give or take) would struggle to go faster than 80..even in thin air.

Denis Flierl    December 10, 2013 - 8:40PM

Good point, but torque is a wonderful thing when it comes to a high performance engine and not just for pulling weight, but for getting those big performance tires turning quickly. I would like to see more high-performance vehicles, not just a Mustang, get a tuned turbo diesel with massive torque and horsepower. But I understand your point, I grew up with Muscle cars from the 60s. I just think there is a place for both, even in the new Ford Mustang.

Patrick Rall    December 10, 2013 - 9:19PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Im not saying that there isnt a place for performance diesel engines but the Mustang is marketed as an American Icon overseas and there is no denying that the American consumer (outside of the truck market) is heavily anti-diesel. That is slowly changing but is it appropriate for the American Icon that is the Ford Mustang to have an engine that most Americans would avoid? I dont think so but who knows...maybe Ford will build a diesel Mustang and it will become the bestselling option like Ford did with the EcoBoost F150.

Denis Flierl    December 11, 2013 - 6:07AM

If anyone can do it Ford can. The EcoBoost technology is the best in the industry. I don't think it will sell well in the U.S. But it could do well in Australia and Europe. I hope Ford does it!