Pace Notes

FORD AUSTRALIA’S

BY SCOTT NEWMAN PICS THOMAS WIELECKI

01 500kW R-SPEC

FORD AUSTRALIA’S factory-blown Mustang breaks cover!

FORD IS READY to unleash a factory supercharged V8 Mustang on an unsuspecting Australian public. Denied the possibility of Shelbys in showrooms due to a lack of right-hook availability, Ford Australia has taken matters into its own hands, teaming up with Blue Oval guru Rob Herrod to deliver a limited edition, power-packed Pony Car called the Mustang R-Spec. This is not a drill, this is not speculation, these are not computer generated images – it’s a real car and it’ll be available in Ford dealers in early 2020 with a five-year warranty.

Unfortunately, the information you really want to know – how many kilowatts, how many dollars and how many cars – can’t be provided as we don’t know yet. Because Ford doesn’t know, either. It’s keen to celebrate its achievement of actually getting the program off the ground, but is keeping hush on all figures until it 100 per cent knows what they are. However, since we know pretty much everything else about the Mustang R-Spec, we can provide some ballpark numbers to give you an idea of what to expect.

The key to the whole package is a Ford Performance supercharger kit, specifically a Roush R2650 2.65-litre supercharger providing 12psi of boost. Ford Performance claims the net result is a whopping 522kW/827Nm; Ford Australia will only say the R-Spec will produce more than the Mustang GT’s 339kW/556Nm (well, duh), but we’re tipping the final figure will be closer to the former than the latter. “The power output of R-Spec will reflect the uniqueness of this package,” says Ford Australia’s Product Communications Manager, Damion Smy. “It’s really a unique combination of the supercharger, exhaust system and local calibration.”

Why would power figures be different locally? Not only are Australian power figures calculated differently – for instance, the US Mustang GT produces 343kW/570Nm, which becomes 339kW/556Nm Down Under – but Australian Design Rules have required a new exhaust system to be fitted in order to pass noise regulations. These have been a bugbear for Ford in the past; a supercharged Mustang has been on the agenda for some time – “It’s not a new idea; we’ve wanted to do it since we’ve had Mustang in Australia” says Smy – but drive-by noise levels proved an insurmountable hurdle. The heavily upgraded MY18 engine, including its active exhaust, provided the flexibility required to get the official tick.

As well as the supercharger itself, the Ford Performance kit includes a new lower intake manifold, air inlet system, 87mm throttle body, fuel rails and an air-to-liquid intercooler. Rounding out the engine mods is a bespoke exhaust built to Herrod’s specifications by Borla, who supply exhausts to Ford Performance. A short clip of the car testing at Winton heard by MOTOR suggests the combination of V8 roar and supercharger whine will be music to most enthusiasts’ ears.

Herrod’s intimate knowledge of the Coyote engine, the Ford Performance supercharger kits and the people who build them were also pivotal to the program’s success. Herrod Performance has been offering ADR-complied supercharged Mustangs since the S550’s introduction and is the largest supplier of Ford Performance parts outside the US. “We don’t have the background on this [Ford Performance] package. That’s a big part of what Rob’s bringing to the table,” says Ford Australia’s Special Vehicles Engineering Manager, Justin Capicchiano. Capicchiano was a key player in the FPV GT-F and XR Sprint programs, but explains the Mustang R-Spec is a very different kettle of fish. “The FPV stuff was our thing, we knew that [product].

The engine calibration is purely a product of Ford Performance, which is key to Ford Australia being confident enough to offer a full five-year warranty on a supercharged Mustang. “The checks and balances on the kit, that’s all managed by Ford Performance in the States,” says Capicchiano, “they do all the validation and durability work. Our job is to deploy that kit in a production environment, so what we want to control is repeatability of process.”

To that end Ford has installed a new production line at its Campbellfield

“To build however many cars Rob’s built in the past, it’s been able to be contained within those four walls,” says Capicchiano. “When you scale up, there are complexities in manufacturing principles that you need to get right, otherwise you’re not building cars that are repeatable, built with quality, so you’ve got to get those processes right from the start.” It’s been a massive adjustment for Herrod and his team. Previously, Herrod Performance was an accredited second stage vehicle manufacturer, which allowed its cars to wear Herrod Performance compliance plates, but it was limited to 100 vehicles per year. In order to accommodate the R-Spec program, Herrod had to achieve further certification, as there is a different regulatory process involved

“Getting to 0-100 [vehicle status] was hard, this was harder again,” says Herrod with a grimace. “My guy who does all my compliancing was like ‘you don’t realise what you’re undertaking here’.” Herrod had actually complied the MY18 Ford Performance supercharger kit already, only for it to then go through the ringer again to achieve Ford’s sign-off once the R-Spec program was approved. The end result, however, is a supercharged Mustang that has undergone the same tests as every other new vehicle. It’s been noise and emissions tested, the build process is documented in accordance with Ford standards, it has spare parts support, its own workshop manual and service schedule, the intervals now 10,000km instead of the Mustang GT’s 15,000km.

While the hefty increase in grunt is key to the R-Spec’s appeal, the modifications go beyond those under the bonnet. The Ford Performance wheels are a half-inch wider at both ends, now measuring 19 by 9.5-inch and 19 by 10.0-inch front and rear respectively. Tyres remain Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (255/40 front; 275/40 rear). Magneride adaptive dampers are standard, but have been reprogrammed to work with the new progressive-rate springs which drop the body 20mm, while adjustable swaybars replace the standard items. The styling is primarily the work of Dave Dewitt, exterior designer of the Ranger Raptor, with the iconic hockey stick stripes a nod to both the previous FPV GT R-Spec and fast Mustangs of yesteryear.


04 THINGS THAT MAKE THE R-SPEC TICK

Black is the overriding theme, with everything above the ‘belt line’ (mirrors, stripes, bonnet vents, grille, badges, spoiler) coated gloss black and everything below (wheels, skirts, exhaust tips) satin black. The rear spoiler is lifted from the 2020 Shelby GT350 and the rear boot panel now says R-Spec instead of GT. Inside it’s virtually untouched bar the inclusion of a Ford Performance shift knob and scuff plates and a numbered plaque, which will also appear on the supercharger. The full colour palette is not yet confirmed, but both MY2020 hero colours – Grabber Lime and Twister Orange – will be available. A six-speed manual is the only gearbox.

More than anything, the Mustang R-Spec is a good news story. It’s good news for Ford fans who “have been asking for a supercharged Mustang since day one” according to Smy. It’s good news for Aussie ingenuity: like HSV’s Camaro program, an enthusiastic and dedicated group has created something exciting by thinking outside the box. Finally, it’s great news for Herrod Performance and especially Rob Herrod, a bloke who has bled blue his whole life and had his persistence and knowledge validated with an official Ford vehicle.

“It’s been a passion project within Ford,” says Smy, “We’ve stopped at nothing to get a supercharged Mustang for our customers.” Capicchiano adds: “It’s touched every part of the business. If someone asks if you want to help out on a supercharged Mustang project, the answer is not no, it’s ‘yes and when can I have the keys?’.” Too right. So, Ford, when can we have the keys?


02 X5 M RETURNETH

NEW X5 M, X6 M stuffs M5’s 460kW twin-turbo V8 into berko sprog bus

BMW’S MADDEST AND baddest SUVs just got madder and badder. The covers have been flung off the new BMW X5 M and X6 M, with the wilder Competition variants set to land in Australia in Q2 2020.

The headline news is the installation of the 460kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the M5 Competition, which propels these 2295kg leviathans to 100km/h in a claimed 3.8sec, almost half-a-second quicker than their predecessors. The X5 M Competition manages to pass 200km/h in 13.4sec, the sleeker X6 reaching the marker 0.2sec quicker. Regular variants of the X5 and X6 M produce 441kW/750Nm and reach 100km/h a tenth slower, but are unlikely to reach Aussie shores.

An eight-speed automatic sends drive to all four wheels via the M xDrive system, which debuted in the current M5 and, if the smaller X3 and X4 M are anything to go by, will endow the X5 and X6 M with remarkable levels of agility and ability for such a large car. The default 4WD mode prioritises traction and stability, but selecting 4WD Sport sends more power to the rear “making it possible to execute controlled drifts” according to BMW. Perfect for scything through traffic during the school run.

The engine is surrounded my massive braces, with a similar arrangement hidden away under the rear, in order to stiffen the bodyshell as much as possible for the sharpest handling responses. Both models use adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars to control its heft through corners, with BMW claiming to have spent many hours fine-tuning the dynamic prowess of the X5 and X6 M and the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

The Competition variants use giant staggered rims, 21 inches at the front and 22 inches at the rear, wrapped in equally enormous Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres measuring 295/35 R21 at the nose and 315/30 R22 out back.

This much mass requires a lot of stopping, so M Compound brakes are standard with 395mm discs and six-piston calipers at the front and 380mm discs and single-piston calipers at the rear. Inside there are bespoke seats, plenty of carbon fibre trim and more technology than we can cover here. Local pricing has not been announced, but bet on a figure around $200K.

– SN


03 NISMO ATTACKS

MOST FOCUSED GT-R EVER to also cost a terrifying $378,000

THE NISSAN GT-R has spent its life chasing supercars on road and track and now the MY2020 is chasing them up the price charts too. The ultimate iteration of the R35 is now available to order in Australia priced from $378,000, a whopping $79,000 price hike over its predecessor.

That seems like a lot, especially as it produces the same 441kW/652Nm from its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 as before. As ever with the GT-R, though, the devil is in the details. There are new turbochargers from the GT-R GT3 racecar, with 14.5 per cent lighter turbine wheels for faster response, and the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox shifts more quickly and aggressively in its R mode thanks to revisions to its electronic brain.

Carbon fibre is used for the roof, front guards and bonnet to shave 10.5kg, while new carbon-ceramic brakes – measuring 410mm front and 390mm rear – eradicate a further 16.3kg. Add new wheels that are 100g lighter each and almost 30kg has been saved, enough for Nissan to revise the dampers, softening them by 20 per cent on rebound and five per cent on compression. New Dunlop semi slicks increase the contact patch by 11 per cent and offer seven per cent more grip.

All in all, the Nismo GT-R promises to be faster and more engaging than ever, but it’s now fighting in a fiercely competitive segment against the likes of the Audi R8 V10, Mercedes-AMG GT R and McLaren Sport Series range. We’ll find out if it can still cut it when we slide behind the wheel in a future issue.

04 NEW GENERATION 86, BRZ CONFIRMED

TOYOTA AND Subaru are getting cosier, with the former upping its stake in the latter to 20 per cent. One of the key outcomes of this closer relationship will be a new-generation of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ. Speaking to MOTOR at the local launch of the Toyota GR Supra, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada confirmed that he is leading a new 86 team and that the goal is to make it more enjoyable to drive than the Supra. “We have to make a new 86 that surpasses the Supra ... that is what the customer expects,” said Tada. It’s still unclear what shape the new 86/BRZ will take, though retaining rear-drive would seem a given. Reports out of Japan suggest a concept may appear as soon as this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, which is scheduled to kick off in late October.


05 HERTZ OFFERS 560kW RENTALS

Powered-up muscle cars available to rent in the US

IF YOU’RE PLANNING a US holiday and don’t want to be stuck driving your traditional rental whitegoods, perhaps zip over the the Hertz counter and sign up for one of its Camaros.

These aren’t just any Camaros, either, but have been breathed upon by Hertz-sponsored racing team Hendrick Motorsport, who run Camaros in the NASCAR series. The first rung on the ladder is the Camaro SS, of which 200 are available, which feature cold-air intakes and a throatier exhaust to liberate 358kW from the 6.2-litre LT1 V8.

For those who want a little (or a lot) more, two-dozen Camaro ZL1s are on offer with a whopping 560kW, Hendrick having screwed an extra 75kW from the supercharged LT4 engine.

As Hertz Senior Vice President Jayesh Patel says, “We have a rich history of providing custom high-performnace vehicles for rent.” The most famous of which was the original 1966 Shelby GT350-H, a machine so potent that people would rent them to go racing on the weekend!

06 SUBARU’S EJ20 SALUTE

ONE OF THE world’s most iconic engines has reached the end of the road. After 30 years, the EJ20 turbocharged flat-four is being retired under the bonnet of the Japan-only Subaru WRX STI EJ20 Final Edition. (Catchy.) Australia hasn’t had access to the EJ20 since 2007 but it’s soldiered on in its homeland producing up to 241kW/431Nm in the limited-edition S207 – not bad for an engine that first appeared in the Liberty RS Turbo in 1989. Just 555 examples of the Final Edition will be built, with the build number and the blue-over-gold colour scheme a nod to the Prodrive rally cars that made WRX famous. Does the end of this chapter mean Subaru is about to start a new one and finally release an all-new WRX STI?

07 KOENIGSEGG NABS RECORD

THE SWEDISH speed king has once again re-asserted its dominance. The Koenigsegg Regera has set a new record for 0-400-0km/h, dashing to 400km/h in just 22.87sec and stopping in 8.62sec for a total transit time of 31.49sec. For context, that is a staggering 10.51sec quicker than the Bugatti Chiron managed in 2017.

08 HERITAGE M4s FOR OZ

JUST SIX examples of the $167,529 BMW M4 M Heritage Edition will be making their way to Australia. Limited to 750 units worldwide, the model pays tribute to BMW’s motorsport past using the 331kW/550Nm M4 Competition as a base but offering three bold colours from its Individual range paired with new interior treatments.

09 FORD MONOPOLY ADDS AUSSIES

FORD MONOPOLY has been updated with a number of Australian inclusions, namely the XD Sundowner, the FG X Falcon and the mighty GT-HO Phase III, which also forms one of the playing tokens. The Aussie-designed and developed Ranger Raptor also makes an appearance, while the Model T occupies the most expensive tile on the board.

HOW TO BUILD AN EVEN BETTER ONE

IF YOU STILL want more from your Mustang, Herrod Performance can help. As an official Ford Performance parts supplier, once you’ve taken delivery of your R-Spec a visit to Herrod’s traditional workshop opens up a world of possibilities. Beefier brakes from the Shelby GT350, engine or differential cooling, uprated driveline components and aesthetic modifications are all available and because they’re from the official Ford Performance catalogue, they won’t affect your warranty, except of course on the actual parts that have been replaced.