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Tickford Mustang 2017 Review

Ford Mustang Tickford 270/360 Power Pack Road Test
The sixth-generation Ford Mustang is a smash hit by any measure, quickly becoming Australia’s most popular sports car in 2016. Striking muscle car proportions, reasonable pricing and a ripper 5.0-litre V8 won it many friends. But some argued it lacked drama, especially the turbo-four powered versions. Enter local Ford fettler Tickford; the Melbourne outfit having a red hot go at reigniting the Pony Car’s passion with its new $7000 upgrade kits. But do they make an entertaining car even more fun?
Ice cream is delicious. It’s a classic treat with a creamy texture and a lasting, soothing after-taste. In some ways it’s just like driving a Ford Mustang. But add some crushed almonds and chocolate topping and you’ve got a dessert that’ll take your tastebuds to the next level…
Tickford, a Melbourne-based candy store for car enthusiasts, has followed up its sugar-coated Ranger make-over with some teeth-rotting power tweaks for the Mustang. In other words, it’s taken something good and made it better. Much better.
To be honest, I approached my drive of the Tickford-tuned Mustangs with ambivalence. Where are the superchargers? But as we rock up to Tickford HQ near Ford Australia’s Broadmeadows base, my interest levels pique.
Our twin test cars have been lowered and fitted with 20-inch satin black Tickford alloy wheels shod with staggered Dunlop rubber (265/35 up front, 295/30 down back). The wheel/tyre packages cost a healthy $4490, balanced and fitted, but provide the car with loads more street presence.
The test cars are lowered on a temporary spring kit that’ll eventually be replaced with a fully tuned and calibrated spring/damper kit, still under development. As such, this taste-test focusses purely on the powertrain upgrades, which have been finalised.
For another $6990 – fitted and warranted, for the balance of your new car warranty – you get a new, bigger cold air intake with relevant plumbing, a 3.0-inch (2.5-inch for the turbo-four) mandrel-bent exhaust system from the catalytic convertors, or cat-back, and engine control unit recalibration.
The last step is important because it ties the freer-breathing components together while liberating more power from the engines. Tickford reckons it took blood, sweat and tears to harmonise the fuel injection mapping with the new parts, while also retaining torque management systems (traction and stability control).
Increases in power and torque weren’t the priority, but are a wonderful side effect. The Tickford crew freely admit more mumbo could’ve been exposed but this first upgrade kit was about getting the right sound. For the record, here are the claimed power figures for both models:
Ford Mustang 2.3 turbo
Standard 233kW/432Nm
Tickford 270kW/540Nm (+37kW/+108Nm)
Ford Mustang GT 5.0 V8
Standard 306kW/530Nm
Tickford 360kW/585Nm (+54kW/+55Nm)
Ecoboost Mustang goes hard, but sounds soft
Both cars on test were manual – score! But while my heart said “get in the red Mustang first, cobber” with its 5.0-litre V8 and black GT stripes, I opted for bluey, the fettled four-pot’s 108Nm boost (on paper) appealing to my analytic side.
Long story short, the EcoBoost Mustang’s performance is energised with the Tickford 270 Power Pack, delivering a wider, meatier, protein-packed spread of torque in the real world.
With about 20,000km on the clock, our test car feels significantly stronger under full throttle than its donor car. The engine spins harder and faster, and from 2500rpm generates a more potent wave of torque that ebbs around 5500rpm.
“We’re very conservative,” explained Tony Harris, Tickford Performance parts director. “We could get more power and torque if we wanted. But it’s not just about changing the power and torque, it’s about getting the torque curve right. It’s about making usable power and torque.”
The tuned turbo ‘Stang accelerates with venom and there’s more volume too – equal parts intake and exhaust – with a dump pipe hiss when shifting gears at full intensity. But I had hoped for a little more vocal violence, a more guttural idle perhaps.
“We tossed up between turbo back or cat back exhausts. We changed the dump pipe, tried different cats, but we couldn’t get the note right. The turbo four-cylinder is hard to get right,” admitted Harris.
“So we dumped all that and did the cat back. After the third or fourth iteration, a little bend here, a little bend there, we settled on the sound.”
While a touch more pop and crackle would have been nice, to its credit the Tickford-tweaked EcoBoost Mustang is certainly louder than its (virtually silent) donor car and more engaging as a result. And fair dinkum it moves with purpose when it’s time to hustle. Even on fat 11-inch wide rear Dunlop SPs the turbo Mustang’s tail end gets squirrelly off the line; chirping again at the wheels when shifting hard into second gear.
This newfound strength is compelling and in less-than-ideal conditions we recorded a 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds on our Vbox widget. With better conditions (and stickier tyres) and someone like Luke Youlden at the wheel, that number would be even lower in the manual.
Four-pot throttle rocket
Throttle response is also better, with new throttle spacers and throttle mapping enhancing the connection between the driver’s right foot and the car’s rear wheels via improved airflow.
The ECU or engine control unit has been recalibrated, with Tickford’s engine boffins spending months tuning the fuel injection mapping to get everything right. Harris, formerly the Walkinshaw Performance chief, has plenty of experience in this space.
“We wanted to nail it, we wanted to get it right. We didn’t want to rush the [ECU] recalibrations,” he said. “That’s why it’s taken such a long time.”
With the Tickford mods and extensive fine-tuning, the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol Mustang is more fun to drive, faster and more fluid point to point, but at the same time not uncontrollable at the limit. Better yet, it’s as docile as the regular fastback at non-hostile pace.
The extra 108Nm of torque means you don’t have to shift gears as often – 540Nm is getting close to V8 levels – and when freeway cruising barely notice the extra engine noise in higher gears.
V8 chorus that’s buttery smooth
Then it’s time to wring the fettled 5.0-litre V8’s neck. The slightly wider diameter, mandrel-bent cat-back exhaust creates an involving acoustic not available with the normal Mustang GT. In fact, the bassy, creamy smooth rumble turns more heads than some exotics we’ve toured.
It sounds tremendous at mid and high revs (the video doesn’t really do it justice) with a voice to put Barnesy on notice, yet quietens down at commuter speeds. So you won’t wake the neighbours returning home after a spirited midnight run.
The 55Nm bump-up in torque isn’t as pronounced as the turbo-four Mustang’s and neither is the uptick in ground speed, but the V8 kit delivers a discernible performance boost nonetheless. It’s a more tractable beast right across the rev range, and the top end is more heroic now.
The quad-cam Coyote V8 spins up quicker and feels more eager to nudge its rev limit; the extra 54kW delivering a punch in the ribs every time I sight some clear road ahead. Like the four-cylinder version the V8 has sharper throttle response too.
Our 0-100km/h testing showed a 5.4 second sprint, which is 0.2 secs quicker than our last independent test of the regular Mustang GT at ABDC. Again, conditions were far from ideal, and the driver was no Juan Manuel Fangio.
But while the added noise and drama are welcome, equally impressive is the progressive power delivery. I found pushing its limits an exercise in satisfaction, rather than a heart-in-mouth episode of Fear-Factor. Exploiting the car’s increased firepower comes easily and enjoyably thanks to the solid chassis underneath.
Overall the Tickford Mustang GT feels like a proper muscle car now, and like a muddy river full of piranhas there’s a subtle ferocity that simmers just beneath the surface.
Cabin fever in the muscle car
The low, laid-back seating position in the Mustang makes every drive an event, and the view from the driver’s seat is particularly cool thanks to the long bonnet. But the car’s fit and finish from the factory leaves something to be desired.
Tickford has plans for interior upgrades which could be worth the extra coin, because the cabin feels cheap.
Tickford is also working on new body kits for the Mustang but says these won’t be ready until later in the year. The reason? Like the powertrains it wants a high quality, factory-like product as it relaunches the Tickford brand in Australia.
“Our philosophy has always been less is best. We don’t want to go overboard. We’re developing body kits that will take another six months because we want to get it right,” Harris said.
It was only a matter of time before a reputable tuner developed a package – and backed it with a driveline warranty – for the Mustang. Tickford has done just that and after handing the keys back I had a smile on my face that just wouldn’t fade and that, dear readers, is as good a yardstick as any.
Instead of just making it louder and faster, Tickford has chosen a considered, measured approach. If you love your Mustang, you’re going to love it even more with one of these kits. More compelling than plain-old vanilla ice cream, the Tickford Mustangs are a taste sensation.
Tickford Performance parts fitted:
Tickford Power Pack – $6990
Tickford 20-inch wheel/tyre package – $4490
2017 Tickford Mustang Power Pack 270 pricing and specifications:
Price: $45,990 (donor car + $6990 supplied and fitted)
Engine: 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Output: 270kW/540Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel: N/A
CO2: N/A
Safety Rating: 2-star ANCAP
2017 Tickford Mustang Power Pack 360 pricing and specifications:
Price: $57,490, (donor car + $6990 supplied and fitted)
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Output: 360kW/585Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel: N/A
CO2: N/A
Safety Rating: 2-star ANCAP

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