Someone must be spiking the drinking water around the Detroit area with a combination of Red Bull, methanol and epinephrine. What else can explain the onslaught of American sports cars coming out of Michigan lately?
Engine: 3.7L V6 with 300 HP, 280 lb-ft. 2.0L Turbocharged Four-Cylinder with 310 HP, 320 lb-ft. 5.0 L V8 with 435 HP, 400 lb-ft.
Transmission: Six-Speed Manual, Six-Speed Automatic.
Fuel economy: 3.7 L Manual: 17 MPG city, 28 MPG Hwy. 2.0L Manual: 22 MPG city, 31 MPG hwy. 5.0L Manual: 15 MPG city, 25 MPG hwy.
Last year Chevrolet introduced the world class C7 Corvette Stingray while also creating the most track-focused muscle car of all time: the Camaro Z/28. Over at Dodge, a hydrogen bomb was lobbed into the horsepower wars with the introduction of the 707-hp Challenger Hellcat. Mopar fans looking for a bit more style and a few more cylinders, there’s good news as the sinister Viper is still available.
A Legend Reborn
Meanwhile at Ford, a pair of ST hothatches are redefining front-wheel drive performance. But that’s not the biggest news coming out of Dearborn. No, this year an automotive icon is being born anew: the Ford Mustang.
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, which is quite an achievement. Not often does one nameplate survive a half-century in existence, especially one that has stuck to the same basic formula the whole time. But with sales totalling over nine million, no one can blame Ford for keeping each Mustang revision evolutionary instead of revolutionary.
The 2015 redesign is much the same, but does include a few significant additions to the legendary Pony car. The first is who can buy it. Primarily sold in North America up until now, for the first time ever the Mustang is a global car that will be available in several markets around the world.
New Look, Familiar Look
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Longer, lower, wider and more modern, Ford’s engineers wanted to ensure the new car would be instantly recognizable as a Mustang. Familiar styling elements have been added like the three-bar tail lamps, sequential turn signals and LED front accent lighting. The most obvious styling change to the new car occurs up front where one of three grilles is applied to the car’s nose, depending on which engine is selected.
Like Mustangs of the past few decades, two body styles will be available for the 2015 model. Hardtop models are no longer referred to as coupes, but rather fastbacks thanks to the long sloping rear greenhouse. Joining the fastback later in the year will be a cloth top convertible.
Three Engines, Including a Turbo
Under the hood will be a choice of three different engines. The 3.7-liter V6 is still the base engine, making 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Stealing all the headlines is the new 2.3-liter, direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Ford hopes this new Ecoboost model will open the Mustang up to a whole new demographic.
But what would a Mustang be without a V8 option? Topping out the range once again is the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that now makes 435 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque. Like the V6 and turbo four, the V8 thankfully runs on regular gas.
Choice of Transmissions, Choice of Gear Ratios
All three engines come with the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. And like any good Mustang, a choice of rear-end gear ratios are offered starting with 3.15 gears for base automatics all the way up to the optional 3.73 gear in manual-equipped GT models. And there’s more good news: all of these are paired to a standard limited-slip differential.
Ford claims the manual transmission comes with a new shift linkage that makes engaging a gear easier and more precise and the company is right. Nice short throws require little effort while engagement of the transmission is smooth and precise. This is not an old school clunky manual from muscle cars of yesteryear, but rather something I would expect more in a car travelling to our shores from Europe. Keeping the driver in mind, Ford has moved the shift lever closer to the driver and placed the cup holders further away so drinks placed there will not interfere with gear changes.
SEE ALSO: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Review
Despite the slight power bump in GT models, a corresponding weight increase offsets any performance gains and straight-line acceleration remains similar to 2014 Mustangs. That’s not to say the new car is slow, far from it. It’s still quite the V8 rocket for its price and the accompanying soundtrack is an audio delight. I do wish the exhaust emitted a bit more of that V8 burble though.
Corners Don’t Embarrass Mustang, Mustang Embarrasses Corners
Aside from the Ecoboost engine, the other big newsmaker for 2015 is the new independent rear suspension. Gone is the solid rear axle that may make drag racers sad, but will delight those who include corners in their daily automotive diet.
Combined with a wider rear track, stiffer and lighter front sub-frame and larger brakes, it’s clear the 2015 Mustang was designed right from the start to out-handle its predecessor. The poise and refinement experienced while hustling the Mustang GT through the mountain roads east of L.A. more than impressed me. With nicely weighted steering, the Mustang feels light on its feet and responds to driver inputs predictably and quickly.
Not a Muscle Car, a Sports Car
Let me make one thing perfectly clear about the new Mustang: it is not a muscle car. No, calling the 2015 Mustang a muscle car is almost an insult because this is a proper sports car. And like most sports cars these days, the Mustang comes equipped with selectable drive modes that can adjust steering effort, engine response, transmission mapping and stability control settings towards the preference of the driver.
Want more performance? The Mustang GT includes Track Apps, with features like an accelerometer, launch control, performance timers and line lock. The latter allows owners who want to take the Mustang drag racing the ability to warm up the rear tires in a cloud of smoke by keeping just the front brakes engaged during burnouts. If that’s still not enough, performance packages are available for Ecoboost and GT that really turn the Mustang into a weekend track weapon.
Inside, Ford claims this is the most premium interior ever put into a Mustang and I wouldn’t argue. Soft touch materials dominate the door panels and can be found in various places across the dashboard, separated horizontally by a piece of real aluminum. Ford increased knee room for front passengers by making the dash thinner and finally, a telescopic steering wheel has been added to the Mustang.
In the back, the new Mustang fastback has an extra inch of legroom compared to the old model, but space is still tight and should be reserved for children or luggage. The trunk now measures in at 13.5 cubic feet and Ford claims it is a more usable shape than the old model.
With the exception of making the new Mustang a front-wheel drive fuel sipping hybrid, there isn’t much Ford could have done to turn diehard fans off of the company’s legendary sports car. But Ford set out to make the new GT a better performer than the Boss 302 and the company may have succeeded. Mustang fans rejoice; with power, poise, handling and refinement, this is the best all-around Mustang ever.