Ford made a big splash last week revealing that the third-generation Coyote 5.0-liter engine under the hood of the 2018 Mustang GT produces 460 horsepower. That’s enough power to propel the pony car to 60 mph in under 4 seconds when equipped with its new 10-speed automatic transmission – it’s exciting stuff. However, we wondered how the long-running V8 gained even more performance?

Having a long history with the Coyote engine, we were there when it was born and its creators told us the new 5.0-liter was essentially maxed out at birth. That proved a conservative outlook, as Ford’s clever engineers continually learned how to outdo themselves. From developing the Coyote’s RoadRunner cousin for the Boss 302 — with its beefy internals, ported heads, and bigger cams — to transferring what they learned there into the Gen 2 Coyote for the 2015 Mustang, Ford’s team of creators have been able to move the engine program forward.

Until now the dual-fuel Coyote 5.0-liter propelling the 2018 Mustang GT has remained a bit of a mystery. Now we know a few of the upgrades Ford engineers used to enhance Coyote performance by 25 horsepower and 20 lb-ft of torque. (Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company)

More recently Ford Performance engineers took a variation on a theme with the Coyote’s large-displacement cousin, the flat-plane-crankshaft-equipped Voodoo 5.2-liter, but that’s a pricy powerplant for the everyman Mustang.

The car’s 5.0-liter V8 now features dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection technology for increased power and efficiency. — Ford

Clearly this engine family has grown up quickly over the past seven model years, which brings us to the aforementioned dual-fuel Coyote 5.0-liter under the hood of the 2018 Mustang.

“The car’s 5.0-liter V8 now features dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection technology for increased power and efficiency,” Ford said when the engine performance stats were revealed. “The engine’s 460 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque represent improvements over the current model’s 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. The result is an engine that delivers robust low-end torque, high-rpm power and improved fuel efficiency.”

While asking around at Ford about the new engine’s performance, we learned that there is more to the Gen 3 Coyote than the addition of direct injection to a port-injected 5.0-liter. In fact, the dual-fuel, Gen 3 Coyote is the most legit 5.0-liter engine we’ve had thus far. Since the pushrod 5.0-liter days, Ford has rounded up the numbers to achieve that catchy displacement named on the badge. Now, the company actually has to round down, as the 2018 Coyote engine displaces 5.035 liters!

Big Changes

It does so by using the same Plasma Transfer Wire Arc cylinder liners employed by the GT350’s 5.2-liter engine. In this application, however, the resulting bores are 93mm in diameter.

As with the Voodoo engine, the larger bores allow for larger valves. In this case, both intake and exhaust valves are .3 mm larger in diameter, at 37.6mm and 32.1mm respectively, and they reside in all-new cylinder heads that flow more than their predecessors, but are as-cast rather than CNC ported like the Voodoo heads.

The Gen 3 Coyote 5.0-liter engine is more 5.0-liter than ever thanks to a 5.035-liter displacement courtesy of a 93mm bore achieved using the same Plasma Transfer Wire Arc cylinder liner technology deployed on the 94mm bores inside the Shelby GT350’s Voodoo 5.2-liter block. (Photo Credit: UPR Products)

Appropriately, those new heads are also fitted with new camshafts. While they deliver the same lift and duration (13mm/260 degrees, intake and 13mm/263 degrees, exhaust) as the Gen 2 bumpsticks, these cams differ physically from their predecessors, so don’t think about interchanging them. Gen 3 cams are still controlled by the same Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing strategy as the Gen 2 versions on the intake side. The exhaust side, however, utilizes a completely new strategy.

 Coyote Comparison
Gen 1: 2011-2014   Gen 2: 2015-2017 Gen 3: 2018+
Bore 92.2mm 92.2mm 93mm
Stroke 92.7mm 92.7mm 92.7mm
Compression 11:1 11:1 12:01
Displacement   4.951 liters 4.951 liters 5.035 liters
Horsepower 412 435 460
Torque 390 lb-ft 400 lb-ft 420 lb-ft

Enabled by new crankshaft and rod bearings, as well as a viscous crank damper, this Coyote revs 500 rpm higher than the Gen 2 to 7,500 rpm. As such, it needs a rev-friendly intake. Engineers didn’t just grab something off the shelf; they engineered a new intake manifold with specific runner tuning designed to increase peak power speed. It uses Charge Motion Control Valves like the Gen 2 intake to promote better low-end horsepower without sacrificing that top-end speed.

The throttle body feeding that intake is still 80mm in diameter, but it uses the modern, industry-standard Single Edge Nibble Transmission protocol. Sensors using the SENT strategy cost less but offer higher resolution of data throughout to the powertrain control module.

Precision Power

Speaking of which, the 2018 Mustang – as you might expect – features an all-new PCM with the processing muscle and software necessary to rein in the complex combination of direct and port injection feeding the Gen 3 Coyote. It also takes in data from four knock sensors (up from two), which is said to allow for more precise cylinder-to-cylinder spark control for optimized performance.

We can’t wait to get a look inside the real thing, but for now, this cutaway is our first look inside the Gen 3 Coyote 5.0-liter engine, which features a host of new upgrades, including 93mm cylinder bores, larger valves, improved cylinder heads, a new intake manifold, upgraded bearings, a viscous crank damper and more. Even the composite oil pan is different. It is 2 kilograms lighter than its predecessor.

As a result of these updates and the dual-fuel system, the Gen 3 Coyote delivers some impressive performance. Adding direct injection into the mix cools the incoming air charge and allows for an increase in ignition timing, which enables the uptick in compression to a whopping 12:1, which used to be the realm of race cars and race gas. In this application, the dual-fuel system not only improves economy, but also plays a role in lifting peak torque by 20 lb-ft to 420.

So now we know a little bit more about how the 2018 Mustang puts down that Porsche-pummeling power. However, these little tidbits have simply whet our appetite for more technical details. Hopefully we’ll get to dive into all the technicalities in the near future…

A star was born in 2011 when Ford unleashed the first-generation Coyote 5.0-liter engine, which delivered 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. The Gen 1 Coyote had 11:1 compression and a 92.2mm cylinder bore. In 2015, Ford engineers revamped the engine with high-flow cylinder heads, a revised intake, more aggressive cams, a mid-lock Ti-VCT strategy and more. It delivered 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Both have been surpassed by the dual-fuel Gen 3 Coyote under the hood of the 2018 Mustang GT.