In base spec the engine should output 400hp (300kW) and 400lb-ft (540Nm) of torque and appear in the Mustang by 2011

In base spec the engine should output 400hp (300kW) and 400lb-ft (540Nm) of torque and appear in the Mustang by 2011

Ford’s iconic Mustang was given an update for the 2010 model year to keep it fresh alongside strong new competitors such as the Dodge Challenger, upcoming Chevrolet Camaro, and even Nissan’s all-new 370Z, but unfortunately the update didn’t entail any serious changes to the car’s powertrain lineup. Despite reports claiming that Ford’s EcoBoost V6 and a new 5.0L V8 were destined for the 2010 update, Ford decided to stick with the previous 4.6L V8 engine for its range-topping GT.

Compared to its top-end rivals, Ford’s 315hp (235kW) GT looks anaemic against the 372hp (277kW) Dodge Challenger R/T and even worse against the 422hp (315kW) of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS. Even the V6 engine in Nissan’s 370Z drums up 332hp (248kW).

The tables are set to turn, however, as a Ford executive has revealed to Drive that Ford’s current 4.6L and 5.4L V8 engines will be replaced by a new 5.0L V8 codenamed ‘Coyote’ that’s currently in development in North America. Ford's Australian product development chief, Russel Christophers, wasn’t willing to reveal any other details but said he had "seen the performance curves" and described them as “pretty good”.

The new Coyote engine is first expected to appear in the F-150 pickup in 2010 and then in the Mustang by 2011. The specs include a four-valve SOHC design, with power up around the 400hp (300kW) region and torque upwards of 400lb-ft (540Nm).

An exact date for release of the engine is not known but it has been suggested that it could appear in the Mustang within the next two years, and in certain Australian models as early as 2010. Meanwhile, the base Mustang is expected to stick with the current 4.0L V6, but a new mid-level model is expected to be launched later this year with Ford’s 355hp (265kW) and 350ft-lb (474Nm) of torque EcoBoost mill.

As for the high-performance Shelby models, previous reports claimed the GT500 will eventually adopt a supercharged version of the new 5.0L V8 in place of the current 5.4L mill.