Despite more than 9 million cars produced over 50 years, the Mustang has never been a particularly great car. Sure, its style is iconic, and it can blow the doors off the best of them, but interiors were hideously cheap and that rear suspension was a nightmare. How such an American icon could stay so woefully behind the world was unforgivable. Driving the all-new 2015 model is entirely different.
It looks too hot to trot, hitting all of the iconic styling cues with new strokes mixed in. Designers did a masterful job of aligning Mustang with Ford’s global design language, exemplified by the Fusion and Escape. The large grille’s outline is shared with other Fords, but is black mesh with a big pony striding across. Check the triple LEDs in front of the projector beams that echo the ‘65’s louvers.
The side profile with long fastback hunkers over bulging wheel wells and optional 19” black alloys. Stylists axed Mustang’s famous “C-Cove” in favor of Fusionlike chiseling, but you have to look five times to notice. Around back, its sexy wide rump sports sequential tri-element turn signals separated by a wide corral for galloping chrome. You know it’s a Mustang, but it is as exotic as a Porsche. On the road, people notice
European pedestrian crash standards require space between the hood and hard objects beneath. Most automakers have simply raised the hood. In the Mustang’s case, it gave the car a bolder grille, but also lets drivers see the hood straight out in front of them, providing a classic view. A long hood does something for a car – especially from behind the wheel.
Almost everything inside is padded and stitched, including the doors, dash, and center console. Recaro buckets gripped my ribs until they screamed. The twin cowl design of the dash is classic, separated by dual-zone automatic climate control and Ford’s SYNC infotainment touchscreen for audio, navigation, and climate. Aluminum knobs make adjusting volume and tuning into artful simplicity.
On my first drive, I took the car down a fast curving road with washboard. I’m so used to Mustangs dancing all over the pavement that it was shocking when the new car just rumbled over the pavement like an Audi. No shaking, no quaking, no drama. Why couldn’t Ford have achieved this decades ago? Amen!
Enjoying a drive in the ‘Stang goes further. Engine choices include a 300 horsepower 3.7-liter V6, 310 horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4, and 435 horsepower 5.0-liter V8. Of course, there’s also the unholy 500 horsepower Shelby GT350 on the way. This will be abhorrent to muscle car fans, but my favorite is the turbo-four. It delivers plenty of power, stamps feet with 320 lb.-ft. of torque, and delivers 22/31-MPG city/hwy. Not long ago, it took a GT’s V8 to match the turbo-four’s power – with much worse fuel economy.
You have to rev the engine to coax power from it, but once you do, there’s plenty. Going along is a click-click six-speed manual transmission that is about perfect. Better still, our test car had selectable drive modes that adjust steering effort, throttle response, and electronic stability control intervention via toggle switches on the console. Drive however you want.
Given the basic tools engineers and designers had to work with, it’s amazing how well they’ve done in keeping the Mustang updated through the years. But, the excuses were tired. They won’t need special package parlor tricks to sell this one. It’s a car Mustang enthusiasts will love and one that can draw new owners from German and Japanese rides. A base price of $23,800 rises to $30,484 loaded with the turbo-four. Competitors include the Hyundai Genesis, Chevy Camaro, Audi A5, Cadillac ATS Coupe, and Dodge Challenger.
2015 Ford Mustang
Four-passenger, RWD Coupe
Powertrain: 310hp 2.3-liter T-4, 6-spd manual trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels: 19”/19” alloy f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr
Must-have features: Style, chassis
Fuel economy: 22/31 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Flat Rock, MI
Base/as-tested price: $23,800/30,484