Evan J. Smith
Mustang360 Network Content Director
January 27, 2014
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Fifty years. That's how long Ford's been producing America's favorite ponycar.

Can you believe it? It debuted on April 17, 1964, and its history is storied. From the streets to the track, the Mustang is 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, 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.

The latest fastback and covertible models, dubbed S550, follows the S197 and Fox platforms, each of which 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 this Mustang is colossal, the commentary is reaching epic proportions. Renderings were everywhere and speculation was viral, as enthusiasts demanded what this 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, which we're sure many of you witnessed on December 5.

We caught a glimpse last fall and were pleased with the style, technology, and upgraded powertrains—but we were surprised at the same time. The '15 screams Mustang—but it's not the look many were anticipating. Like most, we expected the styling to reflect the Evos concept car (which most of the renderings were based on), but Ford tossed us a curve. The next-gen Mustang maintains beloved classic cues, all with creatively sculpted lines and unmistakable clarity.

The 2015 Mustang is aggressive in all the right places. Its presence is strong, its lines and proportions fitting for the time.

Shown side by side, you'll see the evolution from the 2014 to the 2015, 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 that will benefit steering and ride." Of course, there is the addition of the IRS and 300-plus-horsepower, Ecoboost, 2.3L four-cylinder.

Mustang Style

It's critical that Ford get the Mustang right, considering it will now sell worldwide, but Ford says the Mustang team didn't compromise. The 2015 Mustang is aggressive in all the right places. Its presence is 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're connected to the brand, and with that, the 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 30 mm, so there is a longer hood, though the wheelbase remains at 107 inches. Proportionally, the roof is lowered 38 mm, the hood is lowered 32 mm, and the decklid is dropped an amazing 70 mm.

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

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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. Ford chose not to go with the familiar C-scoop. Instead, the new Stang is defined with sharp, almost drastic bodylines that define the sides. The wider track allows for kicked-out wheel openings, which give it a mini-widebody effect.

Up top, the C-pillar (or sail panel) produces the sporty fastback design that extends 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 tribar taillights fit neatly in a blackout cove that is angled sharply forward. This produces the aspect of speed, even at rest. Down below is a faux diffuser, and now the backup 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. 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, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and so on), plus China and Australia. These are all new markets, and those customers have various wants and needs.

Power and Driveline

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 three-port cylinder head to deliver power and projected best-in-class fuel economy. It will deliver more than 305 hp 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 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 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 comes from Sintered-iron, forged, Boss-like 302 rods and springs, so we're anticipating a high redline, upwards of 7,500 rpm.

The 5.0L also sports 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." The 5.0L Coyote also gets redesigned piston tops and a balanced forged crank.

Power is transferred though either a six-speed manual or 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.

Chassis & Suspension

Ford is touting its IRS-equipped Mustang suspension as world-class with handling being Boss-like, if not better, and with unprecedented ride quality and all-around performance. And while straight-liners may consider the IRS a hindrance, we expect it to be robust, though not the ticket for regular trips in the 9s.

The IRS is an integral-link independent rear suspension. "The geometry, springs, dampers, and bushings all have been specifically modified and tuned for this high-performance application," said Pericak. The benchmark was the Boss 302, and Ford says the '15 equals or surpasses its handling, feel, and the level of confidence it inspires.

The front end now utilizes MacPherson struts, a double-ball-joint spindle with twin lower links (per side, rather than heavier A-arms), and a mild antiroll bar. This arrangement allows for larger brakes and improves steering feedback. According to Nair, "It's easier to drive at the limit. It will flatter the novice and reward the expert."

Three brake packages are available: V-6 Mustangs get two-piston calipers with 12-inch rotors, however, order the Ecoboost and you can upgrade to 14-inch rotors with four-piston calipers. The 14-inchers are standard on the GT, but track dawgs will surely go for the massive 15-inch rotors (upsized 15- percent from the GT500) with six-piston calipers to enjoy optimum braking. Furthermore, there are booster and pedal improvements, all designed to enhance driver feel.

Technology Takeover

Ford has invested heavily into technology and connectivity, so expect a slathering of electronic goodness. The popular Track Apps returns and is standard on the GT and optional on the Ecoboost model. Launch control is standard on the V-8 and gauges will feature a 160-mph speed with text reading Ground Speed and 8,000-rpm tach (with revolutions per minute) spelled out, plus oil pressure and vacuum/boost gauges.

The Mustang has been mechanically and electronically optimized in the critical areas, such as the PCM and ABS, all to enhance the driving experience and driving style. Together the 2015 Mustang features as many as 20 new technologies. These include pushbutton start, toggles for selectable driving modes such as Normal, Sport, Track, and Snow, plus extras like tire pressure monitoring (per wheel).

"The advanced new Ford-developed stability control system is tuned to maximize Mustang's dynamic capabilities," said Pericak. "It has torque vectoring that directs engine power to individual wheels to help keep the car on course." Systems like the SYNC AppLink allow drivers to use their smartphone apps to control entertainment. We're also anxious to try the SYNC, MyKey, and enhanced MyColor gauges.

Enhancements can also be found in the Shaker Pro audio system, blind-spot monitoring, and cross-traffic alert, and Mustang owners will enjoy remote starting and remote window-open options.

Mustang Interior

The front office of just about any Mustang has been appropriately styled, and the 2015 has been upgraded with an aeronautical theme. Joel Piaskowski, director of exterior design for the Americas, calls it McQueen cool. "With an honesty of materials. It sets the groundwork for the development of the Mustang."

Ford stuck with the twin round cannons for speedo and tach, but spread slightly to fit a larger info screen in between. Mustang also retains the eyebrows atop the dash, but tucked underneath is a newly shaped face to the IP (instrument panel) that has a gentle curve, with a trio of vents in the center and a pair of more rectangular vents on each end. Working from the bottom of the center stack, you'll find the push-to-start button and toggle switches (a la Ford GT) for various controls, then the climate controls, and above that is the large MyTouch screen.

Engineers improved ergonomics by nudging the shifter to the left and sliding the cup holders to the right. There's also a new leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in controls for the usual stuff, plus the aforementioned paddles for shifting on auto-equipped Stangs. We found the wheel comfortable and the pedal placement smartly located.

Occupants are lowered 20 mm and there is more overall interior room. There are also outlets for USB and 12V devices, more softness in the interior, and true metal-plated finishes, plus visibility is improved. Trunk space is increased, and the pass-through from seats to trunk is 40 mm wider. Additionally, the IRS design creates more interior space, which provides rear-seat occupants with more hip and shoulder room.

Ford will naturally offer a convertible and a multitude of trim levels. The ragtop is smartly appointed and specifically engineered with many improvements, including a center-mounted latch for the top.

Finding a Mustang to suit your needs will be easy, and we expect a few specialty models to follow shortly after the release of the '15. Soon we'll put the S550 Mustang through its paces, so stay tuned for a road and track report. We'd love to hear you comments, so feel free to contact me (evan.smith@sorc.com). In the meantime, check out www.musclemustangfastfords.com for more exciting info on your favorite Fords.

The Details

Body

Construction Unitized welded steel body, aluminum hood and front fenders
Bodystyles Fastback and Convertible
Final assembly location Flat Rock, Michigan

Engine

3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6

2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4

5.0-liter Ti-VCT V-8

Configuration Aluminum block and heads Aluminum block and head Aluminum block and heads
Intake manifold Composite shell-welded with runner pack Composite shell-welded with runner pack Composite shell-welded with runner pack and charge motion control valves
Exhaust manifold Cast iron Three-port integrated into aluminum head Stainless steel tubular headers
Valvetrain DOHC, four valves per cylinder, twin independent variable camshaft timing DOHC, four valves per cylinder, twin independent variable camshaft timing DOHC, four valves per cylinder, twin independent variable camshaft timing
Valve diameter/lift Intake 37 mm/10 mm, exhaust 31 mm/9.7 mm Intake 31 mm/8.31 mm, exhaust 30 mm/7.42 mm Intake 37.3 mm/13 mm, exhaust 31.8 mm/13 mm
Pistons Cast aluminum Cast aluminum Cast aluminum
Connecting rods Forged steel Forged steel Forged steel
Ignition Distributor-less with coil-on-plug Distributor-less with coil-on-plug Distributor-less with coil-on-plug
Bore x stroke 3.76 x 3.41 inch/95.5 x 86.7 mm 3.45 x 3.7 inch/87.55 x 94 mm 3.63 x 3.65 inch/92.2 x 92.7 mm
Displacement 227 ci/3,727 cc 140 ci/2,300 cc 302 ci/4,951 cc
Compression ratio 10.5:1 9.5:1 11.0:1
Engine control system PCM PCM PCM
Horsepower 300 @ 6,500 rpm (projected) >305 @ 5,500 rpm (projected) >420 @ 6,500 rpm (projected)
Torque 270 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm (projected) >300 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm (projected) >396 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm (projected)
Recommended fuel Regular unleaded (87 octane) Regular unleaded (87 octane) Premium unleaded (91 octane, 87 minimum)
Fuel capacity 16 gallons 15.5 gallons 16 gallons
Fuel delivery Sequential multiport electronic Direct injection Sequential multiport electronic
Oil capacity Six quarts 5W-20 with filter (10,000-mile service interval) Six quarts 5W-30 with filter (10,000-mile service interval) Eight quarts 5W-20 with filter (10,000-mile service interval)

Drivetrain

Layout Rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential

Transmission

3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6

2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4

5.0-liter Ti-VCT V-8

Standard Six-speed manual with Hill Start Assist
Gear ratios
First 4.236 4.236 3.657
Second 2.538 2.538 2.430
Third 1.665 1.665 1.686
Fourth 1.2387 1.238 1.315
Fifth 1.00 1.00 1.00
Sixth 0.704 0.704 0.651
Final drive 3.15:1, 3.55:1 (optional) 3.31:1, 3.55:1 (Performance Package) 3.31:1, 3.55:1 (optional), 3.73:1 Torsen (Performance Package)
Optional Six-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Gear ratios

Final drive 3.15:1, 3.55:1 (optional) 3.15:1, 3.31:1 (optional), 3.55:1 (Performance Package) 3.15:1, 3.55:1 (optional)

Suspension

Front Double-ball-joint independent MacPherson strut and tubular stabilizer bar
Rear Integral-link independent with coil springs, solid stabilizer bar, and twin- or mono-tube dampers (application-specific)

Steering

Type Electric power-assisted steering with rack-and-pinion gear
Ratio 16:1
Turning circle, curb-to-curb 36.5 feet/11.1 meters (17-inch wheels), 37.8 feet/11.5 meters (18-inch and 19-inch wheels), 40.0 feet/12.2 meters (Performance Package and 20-inch wheels)

Brakes

3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6

2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4

5.0-liter Ti-VCT V-8

Type Four-wheel power disc brakes with four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock braking system and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control Four-wheel power disc brakes with four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock braking system and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control Four-wheel power disc brakes with four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock braking system and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control
Front 320 (12.6 inch) x 30-mm vented discs, twin-piston 43mm floating aluminum calipers 320 (12.6 inch) x 30-mm vented discs, twin-piston 43mm floating aluminum calipers; Performance Package:352 (13.9 inch) x 32mm vented discs, four-piston 46mm fixed aluminum calipers 352 (13.9 inch) x 32mm vented discs, four-piston 46mm fixed aluminum calipers; Performance Package: 380 (15.0 inch) x 34mm vented discs, Brembo six-piston 36mm fixed aluminum calipers
Rear 320 (12.6 inch) x 12mm solid discs, single-piston 45mm floating aluminum calipers, integral parking brake 320 (12.6 inch) x 12mm solid discs, single-piston 45mm floating aluminum calipers, integral parking brake; Performance Package: 330 (13.0 inch) x 25mm vented discs, single-piston 45mm floating iron calipers, integral parking brake 330 (13.0 inch) x 25mm vented discs, single-piston 45mm floating iron calipers, integral parking brake; Performance Package: 330 (13.0 inch) x 25mm vented discs, single-piston 45mm floating iron calipers, integral parking brake

Wheels and Tires (aluminum wheels)

Standard 17 x 7.5-inch 235/55R H A/S 17 x 7.5-inch 235/55R H A/S 18 x 8.0-inch 235/50R W A/S
Optional 18 x 8.0-inch 235/50R W A/S 18 x 8.0-inch 235/50R W A/S, 19 x 8.5-inch 255/40R W A/S, 20 x 9.0-inch 265/35R W summer; Performance Package: 19 x 9.0-inch 255/40R Y summer 19 x 8.5-inch 255/40R W A/S, 20 x 9.0-inch 265/35R W summer; Performance Package: front, 19 x 9.0-inch 255/40R, rear, 19 x 9.5-inch 275/40R Y summer