What is it? Carrying on a five-decade tradition, the new Mustang is designed to evoke its legendary progenitors, while being engineered to appeal to a modern, international audience. After its December unveiling, the Mustang makes its first major new-car show appearance in Detroit, there it sits on a dais smack in the middle of the giant Ford booth.
What’s new or notable? The reborn pony car has an independent rear suspension at long last and it offers a turbocharged, small-displacement four-cylinder engine. The established V6 and V8 engines continue on, with the promise of more horsepower. And the technology quotient is cranked up a notch with advanced safety systems and latest Sync features. With this basic formula, Ford hopes to continue stateside success among heritage-appreciating muscle enthusiasts, while opening up new markets to its venerable rear-drive coupe.
The tale of the measuring tape reveals the new car gained 1.5-inches in width, while shaving about the same in height. Wheelbase is unchanged at 107.1 inches, and the overall length is essentially the same at 188.5 inches.
Ford states that the overall body structure is stiffer than the outgoing car—a desirable improvement that should enable finer suspension tuning that sets the car up better to handle high-performance variations and owner-installed aftermarket modifications. The Mustang has long been criticized in some circles for its old-school, solid-axle suspension, though in recent years, Ford was able to accomplish much with this outdated, although hardy, technology. The move to an aluminum-intensive rear independent suspension should pay big handling dividends, and, Ford notes, that the specific geometry will reduce squat on acceleration and dive on braking, thereby bolstering the car’s dynamics.
The exterior is decidedly evolutionary, with a bit of Ford Fusion stirred into the brew, as evidenced by the distinct trapezoidal grille shape and overall body lines. The fenders now join the hood in being crafted from weight-saving aluminum. The windshield is at a sharper rake. A nice detail is the sequential three-segment taillamps, giving a historical hat tip each time the turn signals are used.
As tradition would have it, the coupe will be accompanied by a convertible. Ford says that the insulated cloth top will lower in half the previous time, and that it will tuck away neater than before.
The cabin makes a natural progression, with familiar shapes now flanked by updated controls and displays. Each Mustang will come with keyless entry, push-button start, Sync infotainment system, and MyKey—a user-customized key that can adjust car settings and even set restrictions for teen drivers. Other familiar features return, such as track apps, color-adjustable gauges, and a powerful Shaker audio system. Enthusiasts will appreciate the ability to change the car’s personality to suit the driving conditions via an available Selectable Drive Modes feature.
In addition to fun, technology brings blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert and active cruise control.
The interior boasts 3.5 more cubic feet of space that can be found in incremental gains by most passenger measurements, such as leg and shoulder room. Front head room does lose almost an inch.
The heart of a Mustang resides underhood, and the 2015 model will again feature a 3.7-liter V6 as the standard powerplant. Ford estimates that it will output 300 horsepower, nudging down from the current 305-hp rating. In the current car, we found this engine provided a good balance of punch and fuel economy.
But, Ford has a new option aimed at those often mutually exclusive attributes, a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. A turbo four may sound sacrilegious, but there is historical precedent with the sporty Mustang SVO from the mid 1980s. Here, Ford claims it will produce more than 305 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, giving it an edge over the naturally-aspirated V6.
The GT will again feature a V8 engine, with output claimed to be in excess of 420 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. This is the only engine to require premium fuel.
Gear shifts are handled via a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
CR’s take: Typical in the muscle car category, the 2015 Mustang improves the breed without reinvention. The promised incremental improvements should improve this thoroughbred across the board. Like all enthusiasts, we look forward to seeing how the 2015 Mustang compares against the current Mustang, as well as its Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger rivals. Rest assured, this is on our shopping list.
When will it be available? Fall 2014.