Future Ford Mustang owners can get some extra kick from their cars if they pony up at the pump.

New adaptive spark-ignition technology bowing on the special-edition ’08 Mustang Bullitt allows the car’s engine to run on either regular or premium gasoline. The latter provides a torque boost of 10 lb.-ft. (14 Nm) between 1,000 rpm and 4,000 rpm, Ford says.

The Bullitt’s 4.6L V-8 mill has an official peak torque rating of 325 lb.-ft. (441 Nm).

Going forward, all production Mustangs will utilize the new technology, says Paul Randle, Mustang chief engineer.

“This application represents a significant investment and will be used across other

Ford platforms,” he says, noting the technology took 16 months to develop.

“It’s mostly for performance (vehicles), but other applications include industrial if you need extra torque when doing things commercially.”

Horsepower will get a small boost from high-octane gasoline, but not much. Octane has greater impact on torque, Randle notes.

The system can sense, in a matter of seconds, what type of fuel is being injected into the engine and adjusts the spark to provide maximum torque.

“There is a calibration strategy we used,” Randle says. “Nitrous-oxide sensors internal to the engine detect (octane).”

For optimum performance, Ford still recommends premium fuel in the Mustang Bullitt. But the new technology will allow the use of regular fuel without damaging the engine.

The Bullitt also benefits from a unique engine calibration designed to increase throttle response by boosting the red line 250 rpm to 6,500 rpm. Randle declines to reveal whether this engine-calibration technique will find its way to other Mustang derivatives.

The ’08 Bullitt will sticker at $31,075, including destination and delivery. Only 7,700 units will be made available for sale in the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, Randle says Mustang engineers are not intimidated by the impending arrival of the ’08 Dodge Challenger and ’09 Chevrolet Camaro, both of which will boast more horsepower than the current production Mustang upon their arrival.

“Given our architecture and technology, we have plans to mitigate that threat,” he says.

bpope@wardsauto.com