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Ford Mustang High Performance 2020: The secret skunkworks that bred new super 'Stang

The new Mustang High Performance is the most powerful four-cylinder 'Stang to date, and Ford has today shed some light on the out-of-hours work that went into making it a reality. 

Rather than the product of a dedicated engineering process, the High Performance was actually the result of a secret skunworks operation that took place on weekends at an Arizona race track.

Unlike previous performance 'Stangs, like the SVO, which required dedicated engineering teams working around the clock, the High Performance was produced by select members of the Mustang team who spent their weekends trying to figure out how to squeeze the engine from the Ford Focus RS under the bonnet in way that was both affordable and achievable without radically altering the production process.

And according to Ford, the process went from a radical idea to production ready in just 10 months.

 “SVO was an engineering organisation...those were all engineering entities that actually did the work,” Ford Mustang director Jim Owens told US media outlet Muscle Cars & Trucks.

"The High Performance Package was the base Mustang team working weekends at the Arizona Proving Grounds, taking the engine out of a Ford Focus RS and putting it into a Mustang.” 

The result is the Ford Mustang High Performance 2.3L, which will touch down in Australia from February next year. It adds the 63mm twin-scroll turbo from the Focus RS to the Stang's 2.3-litre engine, boosting the performance figures to 236kW and 448Nm - up from 224kW and 441Nm.

It means a sprint to 100km/h in the “mid-four-second range” and a flying top speed of 250km/h. Ford is also quoting a near-perfect 53/47 weight distribution, and says the gear ratios have been shortened, too.

The secret to the 'Stang's success is its ease of production, with Mustang chief engineer, Carl Widmann, telling CarsGuide that the engine modifications were "bolt and go", so the assembly lines can operate as normal.

"The beauty of this package is that I designed a turbo that fits all the inlet and outlet tubes, so the assembly plants can't tell the difference between the two engines, apart from the barcode," Widmann says.

"The (High Performance) is now what was the Performance Pack, plus an active exhaust, and an engine, as well as a slight cosmetic change.

"So in the world of parts for Australia; the exhaust - you have it. The chassis system - you have it. The engine is bolt and go. And Australian requirements can be signed off the same as the USA."