Car Theory: Ford 2.3L Ecoboost swap???

 Picture by: Joey Banks

Picture by: Joey Banks

With its lightweight aluminum block, dual overhead cams, and twin scroll turbo this little beast could easily become the go-to engine swap in years to come...

 

The Ford 2.3L Ecoboost was introduced into the Ford lineup when it was brought to the world in the Ecoboost Mustangs and the Lincoln MKC in 2015, and a year later in 2016 the Ford Focus rs, Ford Explorer, and Zenos e10. It was a co-developed project with Mazda, using Mazda's 2.3 L series (L3-vdt) block layout while re-designing the head, injection system, and turbo system.  

Lets Talk Specs:

Power numbers: 310hp 320-350tq

Compression ratio: 9:5:1

Piston Stroke: 94.00 mm

Turbo: Garrett Twin scroll MGT2260SZ  

Mpg: 20 city, 30 hwy

Right off the bat, we have an engine that makes more horsepower than a stock rb26dett, stock 4.8, 5.3, stock 2jzgte, and more than the stock vg30dett in the 300zx... Furthermore, the little 2.3 Ecoboost, makes close to the same torque as the Chevrolet 6.0 Lq9 motor. That's a motor that is quite literally more than double the size.  Plus if that isn't impressive enough, the Ecoboost with a downpipe, full exhaust, intake kit and a tune increases its torque output to 420 at the wheels. That is all attained with only a $2100 investment, I'd say worth. But if you want to take the Ecoboost performance to the next level, you can get a turbo kit upgrade for around $3500, which boosts those power numbers up to 501whp, and 464tq on all stock internals, Sheesh!

 MAPerformance Turbo kit upgrade for the 2.3L Ecoboost Mustang.

MAPerformance Turbo kit upgrade for the 2.3L Ecoboost Mustang.

Impressive right? but I want to add something here. The above 501hp and 464tq were done by Maperformance back in June of 2015. But they and other companies that support the Ecoboost Mustang continued to push the bar further and further. As of right now, the 2.3 Ecoboost (stock block) hp record is 770hp which is pretty crazy, to say the least. But it doesn't stop there, Ken Duttweiler an engine builder for over 60 years will be shooting for the 1100 hp range this coming year... That's stupid power out of a 4 cylinder motor that has only been in production for 3.5 years. 

Is It Swap worthy?

Well, When the new Ecoboost motor came out I remember instantly seeing the potential. It's compact, lightweight, and powerful which in my book is check, check and CHECK. It weighs around 380lbs, which is about 170 pounds less than an iron block 5.3, and around 250 or so pounds less than a rb25/26. That's a HUGE weight difference in the nose of a car. To put this in perspective the 2.3L Ecoboost is pretty damn close to the same weight as a sr20det but makes 105 more hp and heaps more torque.

You also have to realize that hp isn't everything. I'm throwing out the numbers so that you can see a level of performance. But what those numbers don't tell you is how the power is delivered, how it drives around town, and how economical it is. The 2.3 in an S-chassis, for example, will have insane get up and go, peak torque is delivered at around 2800 rpms giving it fantastic 0-60 acceleration. On top of that, the quick tq delivery makes this motor ideal for drifting, a quick punch of the gas pedal and you'll be able to slide the car with ease. But this isn't just a "drifters dream" its street drivability and good gas mileage is what ties this swap altogether. 

The Mustang Ecoboost gets around 20mpg city and 30mpg hwy, but a Mustang also weighs 3600lbs. Most S-chassis weigh right around 2800lbs, which is a full 800lbs less. This equates to roughly a 5 mpg increase (25mpg city and 35mpg hwy in an s-chassis). Which in my opinion is pretty respectable for the power it delivers.

ecoboost.jpg

Pros and cons of the 2.3?

Pros:

  • The 2.3L makes great power from the factory(super torquey)
  • Lightweight
  • Compact, so it will be super easy to work on
  • Easily upgradable
  • Very tunable
  • American made, so parts will be easy to come by
  • Can fit into a lot of imports, Frs/Brz, Miata, 300zx, 240sx etc

Cons:

  • The initial cost of the motor
  • No company has made a swap kit (so everything would need to be fabricated)
  • Small displacement
 MAPerformance 2.3L Ecoboost I-4 Turbo Kit, 2015+ Ford Mustang Ecoboost (EBM-TK)

MAPerformance 2.3L Ecoboost I-4 Turbo Kit, 2015+ Ford Mustang Ecoboost (EBM-TK)

I could see the Ford 2.3L Ecoboost replacing engines like the sr20det in the 240sx, the vg30de in the 300zx, and the fa20 in the frs/brz. Plus it has similar packaging to the Mazda Miata 1.8, an engine that could fit into just about any rear wheel drive chassis on the market.

Here's the kicker:

The Ecoboost motor is still pricey. Most of them go for around the 3-4k range. Yes, I know... "you could just go ls," and for that price, I would have to agree that an ls based motor might be a better choice. However, in 3-5 years the 2.3 Ecoboost will depreciate in value. And when it does you can bet the price will drop to a more reasonable range (1-2k range is my guess). And when it does, it could easily become one of, if not THE most popular swap option for imports. 

But for now, we wait. There aren't any companies making swap kits yet for the Ecoboost motor, so if the swap is going to be done, the engine mounts, trans mounts, radiator piping, wiring, ECU, driveshaft, (trans adapter plate, or trans wiring for the ford unit) and a bunch of other odds and ends will need to be figured out. The cool thing though, is that the engine has such great packaging that you'll have plenty of room in the bay to sort through everything. The 2 issues I foresee is getting a trans adapter plate, or wiring figured out for the ford transmission as well as getting the ECU to work properly in the new chassis, I know SCS-delta in the UK makes a standalone ECU, so that might be the way to go.

What do you guys think? 

Is the 2.3L Ford Ecoboost motor really as great of a swap option as I think it is? Or is this "Car theory" too crazy to imagine. Let me know in the comment section below. If you guys have any other ideas for topics you want me to cover shoot me a message on the Nickel Performance Facebook page, The nickel_performance Instagram, or shoot me an email using the email icon at the bottom of the page.

 

Thank you guys for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article. Hope you guys have a wonderful day and stay driven.

 

Written by: Ocean Nickel