Ford is hard at work putting the finishing touches on its hotly anticipated 2015 Mustang, which is expected to go on sale this fall. Regrettably we haven’t been offered any time in the driver’s seat but we did get the next best thing: a chance to ride shotgun for a few hot laps.
Ok, being a passenger isn’t all that great. It’s like teasing your dog by dangling a juicy steak a few inches above his nose but never giving him a taste. We were so close to driving the car yet so far at the same time. Still, here’s what we gleaned from our brief experience.
Undoubtedly the most interesting powerplant offered is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. This efficiency-focused powerplant promises a stout 310 ponies and an even more appealing 320 lb-ft of torque.
It sports all latest performance-enhancing goodies like variable camshaft timing, direct fuel injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger for rapid response at low RPM. Meanwhile, features like a forged steel crankshaft, upgraded valve seats, piston cooling jets and a cylinder-head integrated exhaust manifold ensure long-term durability.
But how well does it work in the 2015 Mustang? After a brief ride along it seems like this could really be the car’s volume engine.
From inside the cabin, this powerplant is surprisingly loud during acceleration, and the noises it provides are unexpectedly throaty. But you can’t outsmart physics. There simply aren’t enough power strokes per crankshaft revolution to imbue the EcoBoost Mustang a guttural voice. Engineers have probably done everything they can to make it sound good, but it’s still a four-banger.
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It’s the same story outside. The exhaust snarls appropriately for a performance coupe but you’ll never confuse it with the GT version, which is powered by a thundering 5.0-liter V8.
Acceleration provided by the turbo-four is strong and the engine seems to kick pretty hard right off idle. To be a proper pony car this powerplant had to deliver a responsive experience and it appears to be able.
Underway, a little vibration is noticeable in the car’s floor but it’s only a minor resonance. Curiously there’s no noise tube to amplify the engine’s ruckus; it’s all natural.
As for the chassis squat and dive are well controlled during hard acceleration and even harder barking. The body stays extremely flat through corners, even while traversing Ford’s Dearborn test track, which has several prominent elevation changes.
Talking with one of Ford’s veteran test drivers he said the new independent rear suspension permits you to roll on the throttle much sooner since it lets the car to put the power to the pavement more effectively than the live axle that supports today’s model.
Naturally the brakes are drastically improved as well. They allow you to decelerate later in corners and ought to be much more resistant to fade
The noise, the torque, the top-end pull! Ford’s Coyote V8 has always been a stunner and it’s been made even better for 2015.
This is the top-dog engine in the new Mustang, for now at least, and it pulls like a beast. Jab the throttle and the car just rockets ahead. There’s ample twist in the basement and tons of high-RPM horsepower. The way it pulls it seems like it could rev to 20,000 RPM.
Output should clock in at 435 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Today’s five-oh delivers 420 ponies and 390 units of twist.
Curiously that extra grunt was not provided by any single change; engineers worked the powerplant over thoroughly, making small but meaningful upgrades where necessary.
And one of the most interesting tweaks is the change they made to the engine’s intake ports. They’re essentially copies of the ones used in the Boss 302 Mustang and they’re huge. You can cram at least three fingers into each one. Additionally the cams are basically cribbed from the Boss and feature a massive 13 millimeters of lift.
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The engine’s variable cam timing setup has been tweaked as well. It provides a massive amount of adjustability, anywhere between ZERO valve overlap to more than what’s found in a top-fuel dragster. This is part of what makes the engine idle so smoothly yet pull like a jet engine at high speeds.
Additionally the 5.0-liter features butterfly valves in the intake runners or “charge motion control valves” in Ford parlance. These little plates partially obstruct the intake ports at lower engine RPM to induce tumble and swirl for enhanced fuel-air mixing. This improves idle quality and fuel economy while cutting emissions. Curiously, this engine makes monster power without direct fuel injection, which is an expensive addition.
Of course there’s a third engine option in the new Mustang. The entry-level powerplant is a tried-and-true 3.7-liter V6, which we did not get to experience on the test track. In the 2015 car it will deliver an even 300 horses with 280 lb-ft of torque. Power is down by five compared to the outgoing model because the new car’s hood has been lowered by 35 millimeters, which necessitated redesigning the intake manifold.
Both a manual and automatic transmission are offered in the new ‘Stang and each has six forward speeds. Like the V8 engine they’ve been reworked as well.
The stick should be more reliable and provide smoother shifting thanks to redesigned linkage; the auto-box now features paddle shifters and is both stiffer and lighter.
The 2015 Ford Mustang appears to have all the right ingredients. It’s pretty, powerful and appears to drive very well, plus gives customers lots of options when they go to buy. On paper it looks like a smashing success. Now all we have to do is drive one to find out.
GALLERY: 2015 Ford Mustang Performance
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