Evan J. Smith
December 4, 2013
Photos By: Ford Motor Company

Fifty years. That’s how long Ford’s been producing America’s favorite ponycar—for half a century, can you believe it? It debuted on April 17, 1964 and its history is storied, from the streets, to the track, Mustang has been a winner.

There’s hardly a group of owners more dedicated to a specific brand, make, or model, so it’s serious business when Ford tools up a new Stang. “The Ford Mustang inspires passion like no other car,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development. “The visceral look, sound and performance of Mustang resonates with people, even if they never drove one,” he added.

Ford recognizes the importance of its Mustang, and that’s why the heart and soul of Dearborn resides in the 2015. Based on the styling and a barrage of technology and options, the ’15 looks to be a superstar. Improvements come in power, handling, economy, safety, connectivity, and for the first time ever, it will be sold globally.

Ford tells us there are over 200 Mustang clubs worldwide, including Iceland, the Ford Mustang Facebook page has nearly 6,000,000 likes and you can find a Mustang or Ford event virtually every weekend. There are web forums, web pages and so much Mustang gear to fill a museum. Mustang is a lifestyle—and more than ever, Ford understands what the Mustang is and what it needs to be.

The latest model, dubbed S550, follows the S197 and Fox platforms, which each had lengthy runs and helped to grow the legions of fans. Yet, with any all-new Mustang comes a radical departure in styling and chassis, and the 2015 Mustang is not immune.

The hype surrounding the next Mustang is colossal, the commentary reaching epic proportions. Renderings were everywhere, and speculation was viral, as enthusiasts virtually demanded what the next Mustang should encompass. Ford, in turn, used the power of the Internet to extend its reach, thus providing a global debut for its global car.

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We caught a glimpse last fall and were pleased with the style, technology and upgraded powertrains—but we were taken back at the same time. The ’15 screams “Mustang,” it’s not the ultra-modern Evos-looking machine many were anticipated. Like most, we expected the styling to reflect the Evos concept car (which most of the renderings were based), but Ford tossed us a curve. The next-gen Mustang maintains those beloved classic cues, all with creatively sculpted lines and unmistakable clarity.

Shown side-by-side, you’ll see the evolution from the 2014 to the ’15, but also the touches from the current Ford styling, especially in the blunt nose. “We crafted this car with the goal of creating a contemporary interpretation of Mustang,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. “An American automotive icon that symbolizes optimism and freedom, for millions of people around the world.”

Equally impressive are the mechanical and technological changes, such as the new front and rear suspensions. The Mustang now features a perimeter subframe, designed to “stiffen the structure, yet reduce mass, and provide a better foundation for more predictable wheel control and that will benefit steering and ride.” Of course there is the addition of the IRS and 300-plus-hp Ecoboost 2.3L four-cylinder.

Mustang Style

It’s critical that Ford gets the Mustang right, and considering it will now sell worldwide, that’s not an easy task. People all over the world have different needs, but Ford says the Mustang team didn’t compromise. The 2015 Mustang is aggressive in all the right places, it’s presence strong, its lines and proportions fitting for the time. It makes a statement, but it’s not offensive.

“This car is the essence of Ford on a good day,” said Farley. “We are connected to the brand, and it’s with that, that team pursued the actual vehicle.” This essence is evident in the long nose fitted to a wide, low body that is hunkered down and ready for action. The stance is predicated on where the tires are in relation to the body structure, and for 2015 the A-pillar is moved rearward 30mm, so there is a longer hood, though the wheelbase remains at 107 inches. Proportionally, the roof is lowered 38mm, the hood is lowered 32mm, and the decklid is dropped an amazing 70mm.

Ford added 11mm between the cowl and the front wheels, there are wrap-around headlamps that blend with current styling trends and the grille opening is clean with a large mouth. The styled fascia is clean and there’s no longer a ledge or defined bumper. With longer fenders, the A-pillar (and greenhouse) is set rearward and there is a sharp body line running the length of the fenders at the top. There is a cowl bump in the hood, with lines that mimic the fenders.

While hardly retro, the ’15 was enhanced with touches from the ’69 Mustang. Gone is the defined B-pillar, the side glass flows neatly into the quarter windows, which kick up at the back. And Ford chose not to go with the familiar “C-scoop.” Instead, the new Stang is defined with sharp, almost drastic, body lines that define the sides. The wider track allows for kicked-out wheel openings, which give it a mini-wide-body effect.

Up top, the C-pillar (or sail panels) produce a fastback design and extend deep into the decklid. Mustang fans will rejoice as the tail is much more nicely shaped than the outgoing car. It’s striking from the rear, especially the shoulders at the top of each quarter-panel. The tri-bar taillights fit neatly in a black-out cove that is angled sharply forward. This produces the aspect of speed, even at rest. Down below is a faux diffuser and now the back-up light is molded into the lower portion of the fascia. Ford also used a thin third brake light mounted at the top of the backlight (rear glass) to maintain a clean look.

“The Mustang has universal appeal,” said Nair, “not just in the US, but around the rest of the world. In many respects, the Mustang customer was ready [for this car] before we were. My favorite car is the Boss 302 and we wanted to get that level of balance in the total lineup.” Mustang will be sold in Europe (Germany, UK, France, Switzerland, etc.), plus China and Australia. These are all new markets, and those customers have various wants and needs.

Power and Driveline

Like the sleek body design, the powertrain options have been a hot topic for debate. Not since 1986 have enthusiasts been able to select between a turbo-four, V-6, or a V-8.

No SVO, the new 2.3L Ecoboost is designed specifically for the Mustang and will benefit from direct injection, twin independent variable cam timing, and a twin-scroll turbo to reduce lag. It sports a steel crank and trick 3-port cylinder head to deliver power and projected best-in-class economy. It will deliver more than 305hp and 300-plus lb-ft. This will breathe new life into an untapped Mustang segment, as we expect the aftermarket to run rampant with tunes and components to push for maximum power and performance.

Returning is the potent 3.7L V-6, but with more power. “It will be worthy of the Mustang badge,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang chief engineer. But the big gun remains to be the popular Coyote 5.0L, and you can expect more power thanks to enhanced breathing. Ford incorporated larger valves and cams, and revised heads with improved port design. Strength will come from Sintered-iron forged Boss-like 302 rods and springs, so we’re anticipating a high redline, upwards of 7,500rpm. The 5.0L will also sport a new intake (we’re guessing lower profile) with charge motion-control valves to improve stability at idle and mid-range throttle response.

According to Ford, “the variable cam timing on the intake side has a greater range of adjustment thanks to mid-lock phasers. This enables better optimized control of the valve timing over a broader range of engine speeds and loads for improved fuel economy and emissions.” The 5.0L Coyote also gets redesigned piston tops, and a balanced forged crank.

Power is transferred though either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto, but both are enhanced for improved performance. The manual features a revised shift linkage for shorter throws and precise smooth shifting. Those opting for the Select-Shift automatic can also take control with the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifts with rev matching for downshifting. The auto also gets a redesigned case with lighter internals.