We’ve cleared the path out behind your Mustang’s engine with an exhaust, and we’ve made sure you’re getting all the fuel you reliably can with a power programmer. Now it’s time to make sure your engine’s getting enough air with a cold air intake. You have a few options for your 2015 Mustang intake, whether you got an EcoBoost or a GT, and we’re laying them all out for you.
We’ll start with the GT and our friends at AEM Induction. AEM’s 2015 Mustang cold air intake looks basic, but has been dyno engineered to add an estimated 12 hp and 14 lb-ft to your GT, even without a tune. How do they do it? A cold air intake (CAI) wins back your horsepower in much the same way as an exhaust does. It trades noise reduction for better flow and less turbulence, only this gets more air into the engine, rather than allowing more exhaust out of it. And just like exhaust, it sounds much more awesome without the noise cancellation. The “cold” in the name comes from the temperature of the air going into the engine. If it’s been a while since 6th grade science class, cold air is denser than warm air. So there’s more oxygen per cubic foot of air, and that means all that extra fuel your tuner is jetting in can combust properly, getting you the most power available.
AEM’s CAI is crafted of lightweight, powder-coated aluminum and uses a washable, but oil-free filter. They’re separated by a steel heat shield designed to fit the contours of your Mustang and lock out hot engine air with a rubber seal, so you’re getting the coldest air possible. You can pick up your AEM CAI from SSA right here.
Airaid has three CAI options for the GT. Two use Synthaflow, and one uses Synthamax. Since these probably weren’t words you learned in grade school (unless you went to the best grade school in the world), we’ll elucidate. Synthaflow is what Airaid calls their oiled filter. It uses multiple layers of oiled cotton gauze to catch all those particles. When it gets dirty, you simply wash it, re-oil it, and smash it back on. It’s a lifetime filter. The Synthamax, on the other hand, is a dry filter. It uses multiple layers of synthetic material to bounce the particulates. It is also washable and a lifetime filter. It requires less mess, but also only allows an average of 542 CFM of air through, while the Synthaflow allows 820.
This doesn’t seem to make much difference, however, according to the dyno data we found. Remember that SSC X4 tuner we plugged last week? It can be loaded up with a custom tune specifically for Airaid MXP intakes, and with that tune, both the Synthaflow and Synthamax intakes add an extra 16.7 hp and 16 lb-ft. Airaid takes a pretty cool approach to CAIs. That’s a pun intended because though they design their intake tubes to create as little turbulence as possible, and though their filters dramatically increase CFM, they like to focus on keeping that cold air cool, so much so that for these GT intakes, they’ve built an entire box around the cone filter to make sure no hot air is getting in. Then, since the look of a CAI is a major draw to installing one, they put a window in the box so you can show it off. (This window is especially cool if you opt for the Synthamax, because it’s available in red, black, or blue, to best match the rest of your bay.) Find out more about the Airaid Synthaflow MXP right here, or the Synthamax MXP, in red, black, or blue.
However, Airaid also has a “track day only” intake with an open style, like the AEM (and most CAIs on the market). It has a very similar design and the Synthaflow filter, so it probably turns about the same results (though we couldn’t find any test figures). Since the intake only includes an air dam heat shield, rather than a full box, Airaid warns that there’s a risk of water entering the filter, which is why they add the “track day only” disclaimer. We’re not so sure this isn’t just legalese, but we’ll leave the risks up to you. If you want an open style intake, Airaid has you covered, and it produces. You can get one here.
The offerings for the 2.3 turbostang are very similar. In fact, both AEM and Airaid have mirrored their 5.0 offerings for the EcoBoost.
AEM uses their dry, washable filter and strong, lightweight aluminum tube, complete with the heat shield, to produce their CAI, which adds an estimated 12 hp and 17 lb-ft, before a tune. It stands out under your hood in a brilliant red and you can get yours right here.
Airaid again offers MXP CAIs in both Synthaflow and Synthamax, the latter in red, black, or blue. SSC also created a custom Airaid tune for the EcoBoost, and this bought the Airaid intakes, both -flow and -max, 33.7 hp and 62.8 lb-ft. Airaid swapped out the box for a dam once more with a track day CAI, though we could find no dyno numbers for it.
In conclusion, AEM intakes are generally a little more affordable but don’t produce quite the same numbers as Airaid. However, those Airaid numbers are all paired with the SSC tune, and we have little doubt the AEMs could see similar results after plugging in an SSC or DiabloSport. Underhood look is also a factor to consider, since the open air dam design of AEM and Airaid’s track day intakes tend to be more visually striking, but according to Airaid there is a risk of rainwater admittance. We’ll leave the final decision up to your preference, but if you have any questions about intakes or any other Mustang upgrades, feel free to drop them in the comments or give one of our expert, American techs a call at 877.787.8989.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.