The Ford 5.0L Coyote engine has been a smash success since the day the first photo of the re-imagined 5.0 badge on an engine cover was released. The engine family has definitely lived up to the hype surrounding it as one of—if not the most—technologically-advanced engines to ever grace a modern muscle car.
With the old “five-ohs”, one of the first swaps many enthusiasts made was cylinder heads, camshaft, and intake manifold, which combined to really wake the pushrod engine up. On the modern quad-cam 5.0, the heads flow amazingly well from the factory, and numerous intake swap tests have shown that the Coyote responds well to the different intake manifold options on the market. So that just leaves camshaft upgrades to complete the old-school trifecta.
When it comes to the dual overhead cam Coyote engine, it seems like camshafts are considered a much more “hardcore” upgrade than with the previous iteration of the 302. Maybe because there are four camshafts instead of one, or maybe it’s the ECU-controlled variable camshaft timing that intimidates some. However, a camshaft upgrade is not only a viable performance enhancement but worth the effort. Besides, as Richard Holdener says in this Comp Cams Speed Secrets video, “You’re a Ford guy; you’re tough!”
Holdener tests a set of Comp’s XFI NSR Stage 2 camshafts in two separate Coyote engines; one early model (’11-’14) on an engine dyno, and a second-gen (’15-’17) Coyote in a 2017 Mustang GT. The NSR line of camshafts doesn’t require upgraded valve springs, hence the NSR (No Springs Required) nomenclature. They are available in three stages for both naturally-aspirated and blower-equipped engines.
The trick to not requiring upgraded valve springs is that all three variants have the same lift at the valve, but have different cam duration specs to boost performance. All of them require an aftermarket camshaft phaser limiter kit to be installed and custom tuning to be performed once installed, but the juice is worth the squeeze in this case.
The camshaft profile tested—the Stage 2—specs out to have .492-inch of lift on the intake side and .453-inch on the exhaust side. Advertised duration is 268-degrees on the intake and 275-degrees on the exhaust side, but duration at .050-inch lift comes out to 228 degrees intake and 231 degrees exhaust, with an intended lobe separation angle of 126 degrees. They are advertised as having an operating range of 1,700 to 7,000 rpm, with the bulk of the power gains occurring above 4,900 rpm to take full advantage of the deep-breathing four-valve cylinder heads.
The initial baseline run of the stock 2011 Coyote crate engine yielded 462 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 411 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. The Stage 2 camshafts and phaser limiters were then installed and run up on the dyno once again. While the dyno screen showed a significant improvement in numbers with 498 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 441 lb-ft at 5,300 rpm, the team realized that the stock air intake system was limiting the gains, and so they installed a JLT cold air intake.
The second round of runs on the engine dyno noted significant improvement over just the camshafts starting at 4,300 rpm all the way to the rev limiter, posting final peak numbers of 515 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 451 lb-ft at 5,300 rpm for the XFI NSR Stage 2 camshafts and JLT air intake on the engine dyno.
Moving to the chassis dyno with the 2017 Mustang GT, the stock camshafts (with an aftermarket air intake kit) spun the rollers to 465 rear-wheel horsepower at about 6,300 rpm. Once the XFI NSR Stage 2 cams and phase limiters were installed in the Mustang GT, it recorded 487 rear-wheel horsepower at about 6,300 rpm—but that doesn’t really tell the whole story.
Just like the cam card says, the power curve really starts to diverge at about 4,600 rpm, and the engine’s power from 6,300 rpm out to 7,400 rpm is massively improved with the aftermarket camshafts over the stockers. While the peak numbers show a solid improvement over stock by themselves, looking at the chassis-dyno results really tell the story of just how much more power these camshafts really offer—especially at high RPM levels, where the Coyote engine loves to live.