EcoBoost four-cylinder gets throatier

One of the cool things about owning a V-8-powered Mustang is that it has an aggressive, unmistakable exhaust note. The Shelby GT350 set a new standard in 2015 thanks to Ford’s active exhaust system. At first available only with the GT350, the racy exhaust eventually found its way into the Mustang GT too. Come 2018 and FoMoCo finally made the active exhaust system available for the EcoBoost model as well.

Designed to work in four different settings, the active exhaust system suits every mood or need you may have when driving your Mustang

Designed to work in four different settings, the active exhaust system suits every mood or need you may have when driving your Mustang. Need a quiet car early in the morning while leaving to work? Then you can use it in "quite" mode, which keeps the four-cylinder running silently. Next up is "normal," the usual setup for the EcoBoost, followed by "louder," which gives the exhaust a sportier note.

Things become more aggressive with the "sport" and "track" settings. The latter is obviously the noisiest, and Ford claims that the throaty rumble of the engine will make the hair on the back of your neck stand out just as it might on the Shelby GT350. That’s really cool when you want the roar of a big-displacement engine but the fuel economy of a four-cylinder.

The Ford Mustang EcoBoost Sounds as mean as the Shelby GT350 with the Active Exhaust System Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The active performance exhaust will be available for the 2019 model year with the Performance Pack

The active performance exhaust will be available for the 2019 model year with the Performance Pack. The bundle, priced at $2,495 without the exhaust, already includes a host of performance-enhancing features. Highlights include a Torsen limited-slip differential, an aluminum instrument panel, additional oil pressure and boost gauges, heavy-duty front strings, larger brakes, unique chassis tuning, and a rear wing for the coupe models.


2018 Ford Mustang High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Mustang.

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Press release

The next time you jump at the sound of thunder or feel an adrenaline rush when you hear the new active valve performance exhaust on the 2019 EcoBoost®-equipped Mustang, thank your prehistoric ancestors.

It’s called an autonomic response, and it traces back to ancient humans who successfully learned to react quickly to loud and powerful sounds, like the roar of a lion or the crash of a tree. Over time, this fight-or-flight response to avoid danger was passed along in our DNA and hardwired into our minds and bodies.

Eons later, that connection between sounds and our emotional reactions caught the attention of an 18th century music critic named Friedrich Marpurg, who was among the first in modern times to document different sounds and the emotional responses they elicit. Today, modern sound engineers tap into those very same concepts when they create sounds for everything from movies and music, to cars and cellphones – and even appliances.

“Our connection to sound begins in our mother’s womb long before other senses,” said Steve Venezia, a veteran Los Angeles-based television production engineer. “And later in life, sound is one of the most powerful senses that creates lasting memories, like a song that takes you back to a happy time in your life.”

Beyond the basics of sound – loud, quiet, high/low pitch, simple or complex harmonic structures – Venezia says the trick to creating emotionally compelling sound experiences is starting with an authentic base sound, then adding layers over it to intensify the emotions of that particular sound.

So that familiar “ta-da” chime your smartphone emits isn’t by friendly accident; it’s carefully designed to be pleasant and happy, according to Marpurg’s theory.

Sound DNA of a wild Mustang

In Dearborn, Michigan, audio designers of another sort create sounds that tap into our desire for power and thrills. They are engineers at Ford Motor Company, designing acoustic exhaust sounds that excite the senses and deliver a note of performance.

“We’re probably the few engineers here who do not have to design to a number or a specification,” said Hani Ayesh, Ford exhaust development engineer. “Instead, we work to identify that signature sound DNA that connects drivers to the emotional expectation they have for a specific car.”

These automotive sound engineers rely on computational analysis to design, for example, a computer-controlled active exhaust system that opens valves – much like a saxophone or a large pipe organ – to change the sound of the car based on the mood of the driver.

Ayesh breaks it down using a simple analogy – a guitar.

“Strum a chord on an acoustic guitar, and you get a clean, simple sound wave – that’s your quiet Brahms’ Lullaby kind of mood,” he said. “Plug that guitar into an amp and crank it up to 11, and that’s your aggressive, crackling sound that really rocks your soul. We call that track mode.”

Performance comes in all sizes. When you step on the gas of Ayesh’s test car – a 310-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder Mustang – the throaty rumble of the exhaust makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, just as it might on the larger-engine Mustang GT and Shelby GT350 models.

Click a switch on the center console, and the sound instantly changes to match your mood – normal, louder and more aggressive sport and track settings, as well as a quiet mode, when all you want is to just keep the peace.

“When I pick up my kids from school, they want to hear that growling rev of the engine,” said Ayesh, “but my wife and neighbors, not so much. So I can select the quieter ‘good neighbor’ mode, and keep them happy, too.”

Mustang’s new fully active performance exhaust will be available for the 2019 2.3-liter EcoBoost-powered pony car this summer.

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