The Ford Mustang is the longest-consecutive-running passenger car nameplate in America, largely because there was no 1983 Chevrolet Corvette. And being the American automotive icon that it is, Ford takes the time to celebrate the official birthday of the Mustang every year, which recently celebrated its 56th birthday on April 17th. The S550 generation has especially stayed true to its performance lineage, offering everything from the Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package (HPP) to the 760 hp Mustang GT500 that can command more than $100,000 in price.
While many have focused on the alpha stallion that is the GT500, and more recently the Mach 1, the 2021 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP continues to be an important product offering, and is doing as good as anticipated, according to the marketing department.
“It’s a niche vehicle in its design,” said Ford Mustang North American Marketing Manager Jim Owens to MC&T. “Demand is still meeting expectations that we had of it.”
Ford doesn’t publicly disclose sales breakdowns on trim levels or packages of its vehicles. However, the Mustang EcoBoost HPP has gone on to impress those who have driven them off the dealer lot.
“The people who get it are blown away by what that car does,” said Owens. “That Focus RS motor twisted sideways, that 350 ft-lbs of torque, that vehicle with the lightweight over the front is impressing people over the short tracks.”
“Like the SVO, it had that niche following,” mentioned Owens.
Tight, technical, lower-speed maneuvering is where the S550 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP shines, and even lapped Virginia International Raceway almost a full second faster than the Mustang GT during last year’s Car & Driver Lightning Lap.
Ford opted not to name the S550 Mustang EcoBoost HPP the SVO because the “Special Vehicle Operations” team has since been restructured into Ford Performance. So even though the name is a bit clunky, it’s definitely the spiritual successor to the Fox Body bantamweight of yore.
The Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP seems to be in a segment of one at the moment, with the Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE bowing out due to lack of demand. Dodge otherwise doesn’t have something that can compete in this lightweight muscle car segment. Imports like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Type R, Toyota 86, and Subaru Impreza WRX are otherwise more peripheral competition that the late Ford Focus ST and Focus RS otherwise compared more directly with on the spec sheet. Like the Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package, all of these vehicles are likely to be found at your local SCCA region autocross, using their superior agility to weave through a technical layout of orange cones scattered across a wide open tarmac.
Available on both the entry-level Mustang EcoBoost fastback coupe or convertible, the High Performance Package ($6,095) features the same 2.3L turbo engine from the Ford Focus RS, mounted longitudinally, and delivers a one-two punch of 330 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The pacakge then goes on to add the brakes from the Coyote V8-powered Mustang GT, and even higher-performing suspension and aerodynamic body work from the Mustang GT Performance Package. Performance upgrades also include 3.55 limited-slip rear differential ratio, a larger rear sway bar, unique chassis, EPAS, ABS and stability control tuning.
A separate Handling Package ($1,995) further adds to the performance pedigree of the Mustang EcoBoost HPP. This upgrade includes 265/40 R19 Pirelli Corsa 4 summer-only tires, Torsen limited slip rear, magnetic fluid dampers, and a brake upgrade. It’s not available on the convertible. The package also requires the 101A equipment group upgrade, which tacks on another $2,000 to the MSRP.
The cheapest 2021 Ford Mustang EcoBoost HPP with the Handling Package that one could theoretically muster commands an MSRP of $39,085, before any qualifying incentives and discounts.
Start-to-finish for the S550 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package took just under 10 months of engineering development.