2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT review

Let’s talk tuner anthropology.

Cast your mind back a few decades, and it was a shaved cylinder head, extra carby and a set of headers (if you could get such a thing – if not, you made your own) that had blokes standing around in backyards in stubbies, smoking Winnie Blues and drinking cans of VB.

Next, it was engine swaps that were the gun hot-up: red motors into grey-motored Holdens, crossflow sixes in elderly Falcons and, if you were the really adventurous type, you aimed higher still and stuck a US V8 into whatever.

2017-Corsa-Specialised-Vehicles-Mustang-GT-reving.jpgHead along the timeline to the 1980s or so and turbocharging was the big thing: blow-through, suck-through, none of it worked properly, but you could get that Datsun 200B honking – if only briefly. Jump ahead again, and the arrival of electronic injection and ECU control forced the tuners back to school one more time as the electron was mastered.

In 2017 in Australia, of course, the tuner car of choice is the Ford Mustang and the tune-up du jour is the positive-displacement supercharger. The trend-within-a-trend is to make the end result feel just like a stocker, but with bigger agates. And we’re seeing them pop up all over the place.

None of which explains Peter Dichiera’s latest weapons. Oh sure, they’re Mustangs, but while the rest of the tuning world is aiming for that factory-spec look and feel, Dichiera’s ignored that and gone his own, very effective, way. Not for the first time, of course, but it remains that a CSV Mustang will not be confused with a stocker.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT yellowNot for a minute. Oh no. The man himself puts it simply: “Some of these blokes are saying, ‘I’m spending plenty of money, I don’t give a toss. I want it to haul arse’." Sorted, we’d have to say.

Figuring that the Mustang offered more than one opportunity to reach an audience, Dichiera has actually developed a pair of ’Stang-based packages, taking very different paths to arrive at very different end results. That said, they have one thing in common – they’re absolutely bonkers.

The yellow car you'll see is more or less CSV’s take on a Mustang for the bloke who (to paraphrase Dominic Toretto) lives life a quarter mile at a time. Which is fine, but that also means that for the majority of us who want our Mustangs to party hard and still be a teensy bit sophisticated, the red car is the one for the masses.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT yellow rear.jpgSo what makes it tick, then? The biggest piece of the puzzle is a pair of Borg Warner turbos. They run built-in dump-valves and they’re mounted way down low, in the air-stream under the car, and protected by a bash plate. Even so, I reckon you’d be a bit antsy on really lumpy bitumen, but Dichiera drove the thing from his home town of Mildura to our test rendezvous in central Victoria without dragging the snails along the road at any stage and reckons clearance isn’t a problem.

The upside is that the turbos run cooler hanging out in the breeze and the problem of getting oil uphill back to the sump is taken care of by a dedicated oil pump.

There’s a front-mount intercooler, a custom tune for the ECU and Ford Motorsport side-squirt injectors. Those ’jectors are about as big as you can go, though, without tailpipe emissions going berserk. Boost indexing is a project for the future, and at the moment, the car defaults to six pounds of boost every time the ignition is keyed on.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT engine.jpgBut a boost-controller mounted in one of the ’Stang’s cupholders (that’s one hell of a caffeine hit) can jack that up in steps all the way to nine pounds, at which point you’re looking at a stout 472kW at the treads.

Typically, and this backs up the notion that factory motors really have come a long way, the CSV crew haven’t so much as lifted a cylinder head; this is fundamentally a bolt-on transformation. Not that the rest of the Mustang package has been so fiddle-friendly. Nope, the clutch was quickly deemed to be a potential trouble-maker, so experiments began with twin-platers.

The one fitted for our test was a 280mm twin-plate job with a solid centre that aims to be a bit more traffic-tolerant than a classic-style button clutch. And while it does feel pretty sharp, there was still enough give in it to make bumbling along an okay experience. But when push came to shove on the 400m trip, the clutch turned on us, clamping its pedal flat to the floor. Turns out it’s not compatible with the stock helper-spring on the pedal.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT horsepowerNow they tell us. It has, of course, since been fixed. The other potential explosion to be avoided via the aftermarket was in the driveshaft department. In the end, a pair of 1200-horsepower-rated shafts were sourced and combine with the other driveline change – a move from the ’Stang’s stock 3.55:1 rear-end ratio to a slightly tamer 3.31:1 gearset to (a) make the most of all that torque, and (b) try to stop the car blowingits tyres off the rims on every half-serious launch.

The diff centre itself is a TrueTrac Torsen. KW coil-overs with external canisters replace the stock Mustang springy bits and there’s an in-house three-inch exhaust all the way to the rear bumper. Grooved Brembo rotors measuring 360mm grace the front end while the rear gets the same spec in a 340mm fitment.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT tyresThere’s no matching of the rubber front to rear, instead you get a set of Pirelli P Zero 295/30 Trofeos on 20-inch alloys up front backed up by a pair of 305/35 very purposeful Nittos out back. Mickey Thompsons could ultimately get the nod.

The window-dressing bits include a range of carbon-fibre add-ons that Dichiera has cherry-picked from various body kits from the USA (including the bonnet scoop) while the interior sports one of the best pair of front chairs we’ve slumped into in a long time. They look good and they really hang on to you. Now, you might ask why CSV has gone to the trouble of this cosmetic stuff when individual buyers have their own views on which way to go here.

Thing is, CSV is in the process of certifying the Mustang packages as a secondary manufacturer and, once that’s in place, the package is the package. The upside is, of course, that you’ll need only to point out to El Plod the secondary compliance plate on the firewall, for all his concerns to fade away like a Krispy Kreme in an acid bath. He may even begin to smile.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT tailights.jpgClearly – and given the existence of the strip-oriented yellow car – 400m times are the not be-all and end-all of this car. That’s lucky then, because it’s a claws-out bitch to launch. Even with the clutch co-operating and a big old burnout to get some heat into the Nittos, getting away cleanly is mostly a question of luck.

The terminal speed – a whopping 204.63km/h – suggest 10s are on the cards on a sticky wicket, but on an unprepared strip the best it can manage is 0-100km/h in four-dead and an 11.85sec quarter. Make no mistake, though, this thing hauls serious arse; even with the taller diff ratio it’s well into fifth gear through the traps.

On the road the red Mustang displays some mighty potential as a point-to-point machine. The KWs don’t do a whole lot for ride compliance, but they do sharpen things up. Well, to an extent, because the overall, typical-Mustang theme of being seated at the back end of things with a reasonably accurate, but untalkative, helm way up front continues.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT on racetrack.jpgAnd power? No problems there, but, again, this is where the CSV car differs from the new normal when it comes to tuned Stangs. While you could arguably put your grandma in the right-hand chair of many modded Muzzies we’ve sampled in the past 18 months, I’m tipping you wouldn’t be so casual with the red CSV.

Nope, sending Gran to bingo in this thing would probably be the last you’d see of her without a toe-tag. Not saying it’s dangerous or undriveable, but get too cocky and it’ll hurt you.

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There’s not a stupid amount of lag, although it can be felt in the higher gears, but once the snails are puffing and the boost pipes are bulging, very few cars are going to stay with this thing. Even light throttle inputs have the bugger surging away at the end of its leash, daring you to sink the clog further to see what happens.

So, of course, we did. Several times. And what happens is that the Mustang gets up on its toes and blasts off. I’m not sure where it would all end but, given the longer gears (and the grunt to pull them) somewhere well north of 300. And anywhere between walking speed and that magic number there’s a huge lunge lurking just a millimetre or so off where the throttle pedal is sitting right now.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT drivingThe soundtrack is pretty epic, too. There’s the whistle of the turbos, followed by the hissing as she boosts up and then the sneeze as the V8 gets the unwanted boost off its chest. It’s extremely theatrical, it’s manic and it pretty much makes the stereo a delete option.

Like we’ve been saying all along, this won’t be everybody’s cup of chai latte, just as previous CSVs have usually traded a small degree of polish for a large bucket of spit. But if you want a car that reminds you that you’ve spent something like $130,000 (for that is CSV’s projected number) and is more inclined to kick heads than kiss babies, then this red monster could be that car.

Mustang swaps whistle for whine

It might be more 400m-focused, but the yellow CSV, with its friendlier projected price tag of closer to $95,000-$100,000 and simpler mechanical layout, might wind up having just as much appeal.

The performance enhancing magic here is a centrifugal blower (a Paxton) which is mounted high up in the engine bay and looks all but factory. It’s one of the neater installations you’ll see. It runs the stock pulleys, but with a longer serpentine belt to produce max boost of 9psi and a similar max of 460rwkW, but with less peak torque and ferocity on board.

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT large carThe reason, says Dichiera, that it can make so much power is because of the progressive nature of a centrifugal pump. By which he means that boost is added incrementally, rather than in one enormous gobful, so the knock sensors aren’t going crazy on the stock compression ratio, kicking seven bells out of the spark curve.

In turn, that allows more ignition timing and that means more grunt. Again, there’s a front-mounted intercooler and bigger injectors, but unlike the red car, this time CSV has shortened the rear-axle ratio from the stock 3.55:1 to 3.73:1 and added a 3200rpm stall converter (that still retains full lock-up capability for cruising).

2017 Corsa Specialised Vehicles Mustang GT drag style carIf you’ve ever driven a car with a big, loose converter in it, this’ll feel familiar – if not as feral as a dedicated drag car – as it winds the engine, and torque, up on the stally and then unleashes it on the rear axle. The results speak for themselves, too; 11.72sec at 198.40km/h across the 400m and 0-100km/h in 3.78sec.

And, like the red car, there’s a compressed-air orchestra under the lid with wheezes, sneezes and fizzes as air is squeezed into cylinders and the excess jettisoned. – DM

4 stars out of 5 

Likes: Immense grunt; neat installation
Dislikes: Firm ride; lots of dough

2017 CSV Mustang GT Specs:
BODY: 2-door, 4-seat coupe
ENGINE: 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
POWER: 472kW @ 6800rpm (at the rear wheels) 
TORQUE: 900Nm @ 6500rpm (at the rear wheels)
0-100km/h: 4 secs (claimed)
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
WEIGHT: 1739kg
PRICE$: 130,000 (est)

 

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