Can the S650 Mustang be Tuned?

Can the S650 Mustang be Tuned?

Last Updated April 18, 2024 | Kevin Brent

Enthusiasts always have mixed opinions on new Mustang models. The S650 Mustang, which launched in September 2022, is no exception. While some people love it, others have a variety of complaints, such as the price or the wheel package options. The most significant concern for most enthusiasts is that the car has a locked ECU. While the S650 Mustang has a high base horsepower, this means the car cannot be tuned for additional performance mods using traditional tuning methods. Tuning has been a part of the Mustang culture for years, and not being able to tune the S650 would undoubtedly turn off many potential buyers.

Related: If you'd like to learn more about ECU tuning, check out our in-depth ECU tuning article.

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Do Experts Think the S650 Mustang will be Tunable?

Many enthusiasts think the S650 will definitely not be tunable. However, some cars initially thought to be untunable, like the Corvette C8, have now become tunable due to some clever solutions from tuners across the country.

We spoke to some of the top names in the tuning industry to get their opinions on the S650 and its tuning capabilities. While some wanted their names involved, others asked to remain anonymous due to the fire that the tuning industry has been under in recent years.

Here are the questions we asked them:

  • Do you think the S650 Mustang will be tunable?
  • Will there be a way around the locked ECU?
  • What options will be available to tune?
  • If it isn't tuneable what does that mean for the industry?

Quotes From the Tuning Industry

Eric from HP Tuners:

“It is honestly too early to say. It's all speculation until the aftermarket gets their hands on the actual ECU that will be in production for the S650.

Ford started locking the 2021+ F-150, and newer vehicles like the Bronco. We have made great progress towards adding support for these vehicles, but it remains to be seen if the same backdoor method of getting in will apply to the S650. If it's the same ECU that's in something like the new Raptor F-150, we should be able to get tuning support rather quickly. But based on the hardware I see on the S650, such as dual MAF, and dual throttle body, it will likely have an entirely new ECU.”

Ken Bjonnes from Palm Beach Dyno:

“It's really difficult to predict, but using history as a guide, someone usually finds a way around the newest blockade. I was working at Diablosport during the time the Dodge platform was locked out. It was a difficult time for the company but when they figured it out, it was not only a boom for the company but saved the aftermarket for Dodge. We are seeing the same thing happen right now in the 2021+ F150 market.

Using the above as a guide, it could be 2+ years. At this moment only SCT supports aftermarket tuning for 21+ F150s, so the issues tuning companies face are becoming much more challenging with each new generation.

I hope we do not get to the point of replacing ECUs as it would really hurt the aftermarket. It would make the cost to tune the vehicle skyrocket and make it a much more involved process. This would signal a huge shift in how seamlessly the Ford aftermarket operates today.

I've been in this industry for 20 years and we should really consider ourselves lucky to be alive during these times. The amount of insane vehicles on the road today is mind boggling. While I always love figuring out the new Mustang platform, if there comes a time where we can no longer do that, we still have some of the best cars ever built over the last 10-20 years. I'm hopeful we can find a way to keep the legendary coyote-based platform progressing in the S650 chassis. It's a drastic change and it will be nice to see a fresh face going fast at the drag strip. Keep in mind, with every new Mustang there has been a 'panic'. Let's not forget all the people who said boosting Mustangs was over once they released the super high compression coyote!” We all know how that worked out.”

Adam from Revolution Auto:

Check out the video below to hear Adam's full thoughts on S650 Tuning. Skip to 5:46 if you just want to hear what Adam has to say.

Kevin Hand from Wicked Motorsports:

“We have heard they'll be untunable, then you hear from other sources within Ford that they will be tunable, but it might not be right out of the gate. Look how long it took for the GM diesel truck platform or even the C8 Corvette to be tunable. This was after hearing that they would be locked down no matter what.

Same goes for Dodge. There always seems to be internal leaks of whatever encryption methods were used, but this S650 platform might actually be the first time in quite a while that we will have to wait.

We as tuners don't find a way, we are unfortunately at the mercy of the software companies to either get direct access or reverse engineer and back door the encryption. Citing Ford Authority's article with Ford, the S650 has gone the route of FNV architecture which means 'Fully Networked Vehicle'. This allows for things like over-the-air updates and cybersecurity encryption.

This is the reason it will not be tunable right out of the gate. If the systems see something different then expected or access that was forced or backdoored the system can possibly shutdown to thwart off a perceived malicious attack.

Ford would be crazy after all these years to lock down quite possibly the last rendition of the internal combustion Mustang. You never know though, the heat from the EPA might be really heavy with more stringent emission standards in addition to the threat of malicious cyber attacks to OTA (over the air) enabled vehicles.

If the FNV architecture rumors are true and they are implemented in the 2021 Mach E and F150, then it may be quite some time before you see possible access. It may also only be with Ford or Ford supported companies.

Rumor is Ford is “open” to collaborating with the tuning industry, but at what level, access, and freedom is up in the air. Biggest issue I see if access is granted down the line and rushed to be first to market is the quality. Just because a software suite 'offers' tuning and lays claim to first to market, it's not always good for all of us.

A lot of times there's things missing in the various templates that haven't been discovered, or the logging is inadequate. Just because you now have access doesn't mean you can do your job as thoroughly as previous platforms. Going back to 2011 when the first Coyote showed up on the scene, it put our whole tuning industry into a whirlwind. The complexity of the HDFX system with advanced VCT, 4D tables, and torque-based systems had a majority of us scratching our heads.

Nobody who bought a 2011 Mustang Coyote was instantly an expert. We had a taste of some of the systems from the previous models, but it was a whole new ballgame. I see the S650 being frustrating similar to how we felt in 2011, not only from an engineering standpoint, but from a security standpoint with these new technologies.”

Anonymous Tuning Industry Insider:

“There are rumors that it may have the same PCM as the current 2021-2023 F150, which I believe is only tunable via SCT and limited to '21 and early '22 models. It requires flashing directly to the ECU via the engine bay and not OBD2. HP Tuners still hasn't released anything. It's taken this long for security to be bypassed to even flash.

Parameter mapping is the other difficult and time-consuming part. Having proper access in the tuning software is what will allow tuners to do things like OE would. All of that has to happen before anyone like me can even begin to 'tune' the car. The other rumor is that the 2024+ won't have the same PCM and it switches to something new, like the C8 Corvette. If it's not in 2024 or 2025 it'll be 2026+ when a higher performance variant may come out.

Either way, if it's tunable it'll be at least a year to a couple years after release for proper calibration to be made, if not, then it's not looking good. The other bad news I'm hearing is the dual intake stuff. It likely has two airflow sensors in the tubes to monitor flow because it has carbon traps for emissions. If the trap is removed, it'll set a code or do limp mode. Modifying any of that in the tune could be considered tampering. I fear the glory days are behind us for a bit.”

What Is Ford's Position on Tuning?

A locked ecu can always be tuned. However, absent a workaround, it will require an access key. Ford has already stated that the point of the locked ECU was to make sure not just anyone can tune these cars.

Ford Performance will offer power packs like they have in the past. Previously these required the ProCal Tuner. There is no reason to believe the new packs won't need a tune as well, but how that will be handled is still a mystery. It could be a special tuner or possibly a trip to the dealer. We know a few companies are working on a supercharger for the S650, but they won't invest in an entirely new kit unless they know Ford will allow them to tune the car. There will be ways to tune the S650 Mustang, but the question is who will be able to do it and how far can they go. Ultimately, it will be up to Ford who is able to tune the S650 unless an alternate technique is discovered.

Will the S650 Mustang be Able to be Tuned

While the opinions of tuning experts vary, ultimately only time will tell if the S650 Mustang will be able to be tuned. Most industry professionals are cautiously optimistic it will happen, but nearly all the tuners we talked to agreed that if the S650 proves to be untunable, it won't have a negative impact on the tuning industry as a whole. There are plenty of other cars that can receive tuning and modifications to go faster, and it may even increase demand for older models. Plus, there are still a ton of great mods you can add to improve the performance of the S650 without tuning. Check out our top S650 Mustang mods for some suggestions.

As for the S650, it can be tuned, but it depends on who Ford decides to allow access to the key. Since the Mustang is one of the last V8 sports cars on the market, let's hope tuning continues for the S650 as well as future performance models.

If you would like to learn more about the newest Mustang model, check out our in-depth article on the S650 Mustang generation.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.