By Jim Powell
To quote Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, “The 2015 Mustang is the purest- most modern… muscle car out there!” This is exactly Ford’s conundrum. How can a pure muscle car with power and performance attract their conquest buyers who are in their twenties and thirties without the elements that are important to this age group? Large rims with low, expensive tires? Check! Large screens with Bluetooth, audio streaming, text and talk controls? Check!
Ford had to include all the connectivity with smartphones desired, a touch screen that will be hard to touch while shifting gears, and electronic safety features that will keep the distracted driver protected from accidents.
If a muscle car can fit into the market trends of 2014-2015, the Ford Mustang just might be the right blend of iconic shape and integrated technology that Ford is shooting for. From first glance, they have integrated the two worlds fairly well. Thankfully, they left the three-lens taillight alone.
Fords global unveiling of the 2015 Ford Mustang happened around the world in the countries they plan to sell the majority of their cars. From China to Australia to right down the hill from me in Hollywood at the TLC Chinese Theatre (aka: Graumans Chinese Theatre). It was a day of celebrities, Mustang enthusiasts, Ford dealers and executives. Henry Ford III (great-grandson of Henry Ford and son of Edsel Ford) was on hand. Also, actor and race-car driver, Chad McQueen, was there to honor his late dad, Steve McQueen, who made famous the car chase in a Mustang Fastback in the classic movie Bullitt. Even the new Mustang GT itself put some tire tracks into cement that morning in true Chinese Theater tradition.
The shape of the new Mustang is sleek and very “fastback”, returning the Mustang to glory days of Fastback fame. Yet, a rear truck is large enough for two golf bags. The lines are long and low making the two-door coupe stretch out before the eye. It looks more European and Austin-Martin-like, yet still very much like a Mustang. Everything is smoothed out and leaning forward, including the rear panel. For efficiency, the larger platform gains more lightweight material and better aerodynamics for better fuel economy.
At the same time, Ford has added all the performance needed from three powerful engines, including the latest version of their 5.0 liter V8 rated somewhere above 420 horsepower. Also coming in 2014 is the inline-4 cylinder, 2.3 liter EcoBoost engine with a turbo-boosted 305+ horsepower. Ford will also continue to offer their updated 3.7-liter V6 engine with 300 ponies. All of these engines are synchromeshed with either a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters or the enthusiast’s favorite, a six-speed manual transmission with a real clutch. Estimated mileage numbers are still pending but Ford hopes for the EcoBoost to get above the current 30 mpg highway on the current V6 models.
For the first time, Ford has spent the money to offer an independent rear suspension that will better harness the power coming to the rear wheels. This multilink system will replace the solid rear axle that has entertained the drifters and weekend racers for 50 years. I have always felt the modified Mustangs (i.e. the 750 hp Super Snake Cobra Mustang I drove 2 years ago) were too squirrely in the rear end for all the torque offered and just too edgy for normal driving. The newest suspension should solidify Mustangs place in the handling categories of the inevitable comparisons between Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler muscle-pony cars.
Although prices are not available for a while, the new suspension, and new interior with upgraded materials and added electronics will probably increase the price of the affordable Mustang. My hope is that a base model V6 will still be offered close to the current $22K.
Stopping power has been increased on all four corners with standard 12-mm solid disc, single-piston floating aluminum calipers in the rear and the Performance Package with 25 mm vented rear discs. The front gets 30-mm vented discs with twin-piston 43-mm floating aluminum calipers. The Performance Package also adds Brembo (15.0 in.) x 34-mm vented discs and six-piston 36-mm fixed aluminum calipers up front.
All are controlled by a four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock braking system and Fords AdvanceTrac electronic stability control. Hopefully, this traction control will be adjustable to keep the twenty year old out of the ditch and keep the enthusiast on the edge. There is a toggle switch panel for customizing the driving mode from “snow” all the way up to “track” that will help on both ends of the spectrum. The driver can toggle settings on the steering, throttle, and suspension independently to customize their driving experience or just start the car, choose a road condition, and go!
The 2015 Ford Mustang will be on the roads of America starting in the fall of 2014 and will come in the Fastback and the Convertible versions. Look for pre-order information online. Movie star or not, the Mustang is a nameplate that carries some credentials. The 2015 Mustang is a great way for Ford to celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary of a true American thoroughbred.