Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 28, 2014
Photos By: Jim Smart, Matt Stone, Ford Motor Company

Think about it. Just ten years ago when Ford introduced the new S197 '05 Mustang, social media didn't exist. There was no such thing as Instagram, and Mark Zuckerberg was an unknown college student attempting to get his Harvard "Facebook" network up and running. Yes, times have changed.

And so has the '15 Mustang and the way Ford revealed the sixth generation to the world. Instead of relying on traditional media like magazines and TV, Ford took to the Internet, building up to the unveiling date with videos and releasing photos at 12:01 AM EST on December 5. The material went viral, of course, with the much-awaited news spreading quickly via everything from major news outlets to the pajama-clad Mustang fan updating his Facebook page. Within hours, anyone with a computer, tablet, or mobile phone had seen the '15 Mustang.

Of course, with social media, feedback was immediate. Within minutes of posting the Ford-supplied photos of the completely restyled Mustang on our website and Facebook page, we were deluged with comments from our mainly traditional Mustang enthusiasts, many of whom were critical of the new styling with comments that ranged from "ugly" and "not a Mustang" to "I'll keep my '14 GT/CS." Others approved, calling the '15 Mustang "awesome" and "best-looking Mustang yet."

We suppose it's all a matter of opinion, which is easy to express on social media, and the typical response to change. We recall similar backlash, although not as immediate, when Ford sharpened the body lines for the '99 "New Edge" Mustang. In time, the new styling grew on us and we found ourselves owning one and embracing the design. The same is likely true for the '15 Mustang.

Yes, it's a departure from the retro-styling that we traditional (i.e.: older) enthusiasts have enjoyed since the debut of '94's SN-95 Mustang, a model that brought back many of the design cues from the original Mustang after the more European-look Fox-body. And although the '15 Mustang continues to incorporate many of those famous elements, like the honeycomb grille and tri-bar taillights, the retro theme has given way to a more modern design that should attract something the Mustang sorely needs—younger buyers—to boost sales and win back the sales crown over the Camaro.

"The goal is to attract new customers without losing avid enthusiasts," is how design director Joel Piaskowski put it.

Within hours, anyone with a computer, tablet, or mobile phone had seen the '15 Mustang.

Perhaps more importantly than the looks, the '15 Mustang moves forward with an independent rear suspension and the addition of an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder to an engine lineup that also brings back the current V-6 and 5.0-liter, which gets a horsepower boost thanks to revised cylinder heads and a new intake manifold. Ford hasn't released power numbers yet, saying only that the 5.0-liter will make "more than 420hp." We're hearing that it will be close to 440.

It will be interesting to see how U.S. consumers react to the EcoBoost four, the first turbocharged four-cylinder for the Mustang since the '84-'86 SVO. However, for the first time, the '15 Mustang is clearly designed for a global market, including Europe and Asia where the four-cylinder's fuel economy will help off-set higher fuel prices. Ford also announced that China and Australia will get the Mustang, including a right-hand drive version for countries that require driving on the other side.

As the sixth generation of Mustang, the '15 model starts a new chapter for the ponycar's now 50-year history. Hopefully, the critics will warm up to the sleek, new appearance—just like we've done for previous generations of Mustang change.

Although similar to the ’14 Mustang’s rearend styling, the ’15 version seems better integrated into the fastback roofline and rear quarters. Tri-bar taillights continue with sequential operation.

In the Backyard

Held at Ford's Conference and Event Center located across Village Road from Greenfield Village, the reveal in Dearborn was staged primarily for Ford employees, dealers, and suppliers, with retirees getting their own chance to see the new car following the official ceremonies. Ford enhanced the Mustang ambiance by decorating the lobby with a variety of historic Mustangs, including the '62 Mustang I concept roadster, the first production Mustang (100001), Kathy Miller's original-owner '64½ hardtop, and Gail Wise's '64½ convertible, which Ford is promoting as the first Mustang sold to the public.

In the Mustang's hometown, Ford chief operating officer Mark Fields had the honor of pulling the cover off the new Mustang. With Edsel Ford III on the front row, the wraps came off a red '15 GT, followed by words from Group VP of Design J Mays and Executive Director of North America Engineering Frank Davis. Afterwards, everyone was invited on stage for a "look but don't touch" close-up of the new Mustang along with photos ops with Fields. —Donald Farr

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Going Hollywood

While the new Mustang was being celebrated elsewhere in the world, Ford rolled out its icon at the front door of TCL Chinese Theatre in the heart of Hollywood amid the rumble and buzz of local enthusiasts and media. On hand for the debut was Raj Nair, Ford Group Vice President for Global Product Development, and Joe Hinrichs, Ford Executive Vice-President and President of the Americas. Their message was, "This isn't your grandpa's classic Mustang."

Hinrichs said, "Going forward, Mustang is going to help even more people see Ford differently around the world and connect with us in more meaningful ways. We're taking Mustang truly global for the first time."

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The Los Angeles launch was a no brainer because Mustang has appeared in more than 3,000 movies and television shows over the past 50 years, which has earned the Mustang notoriety in front of the Chinese Theatre. The '15 Mustang rolled over wet concrete, leaving its tire tracks for posterity. Nair and Hinrichs took a galloping Mustang silhouette and pressed it into the concrete pad. Because the concrete had nearly cured, they had to stand on it to get an imprint.

Southern Californians were decidedly impressed with the new Mustang with its trio of engine choices and being the first Mustang with fully independent suspension standard. The older traditionalists were lukewarm to the new appearance, but admitted it was time for Mustang to grow beyond its American roots and become more the world's original Mustang fun car. —Jim Smart

What You Need to Know

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* The '15 Mustang is an all-new car: "We didn't originally start out as this being all-new, but it is now an all-new car, meaning there is not a piece of sheetmetal anywhere, or any other part, that hasn't been touched," said Mustang chief engineer Dave Pericak.
* Compared to the '14 Mustang, the '15 model has a 1.5-inch lower roofline and 2.8-inch wider rear fenders. Wheelbase does not change from '14.
* Available colors: Race Red, Competition Orange, Triple Yellow, Deep Impact Blue, Ruby Red, Black, Magnetic Metal, Guard Metal, Ingot Silver, and Oxford White.
* For the first time, the regular production Mustang will come with independent rear suspension, an integral-link design specifically tuned for performance. A new double ball-joint front MacPherson strut system allows the use of larger brakes.
* Three engines are available: a more powerful 5.0-liter V-8 (upwards of 440hp, we're hearing), a 3.7-liter V-6 (over 300hp), and 2.3-liter EcoBoost (expected 305hp).
* All '15 Mustangs will be available with either a six-speed Getrag manual transmission or 6R80 six-speed automatic with standard steering wheel mounted shift paddles.
* The '15 Mustang arrives in showrooms in the fall of 2014 as a fastback, with the convertible arriving later.
* The convertible will have a lower stack height for a cleaner profile and improved rear visibility. Featuring a standard multi-layer cloth material with a single center latch (as opposed to the current pair of latches in the corners), the '15's top will lower twice as fast as the '14 Mustang convertible top.
* The '15 interior is all-new with a cockpit themed dash, round analog gauges for tach and speedometer, more compact steering wheel, and larger glove compartment. The ‘15s will also come with 50th anniversary badging.
* Shoulder, leg, and knee room are reportedly improved. * Look for four interior color schemes.
* Innovative technology includes standard push-button start, SYNC, MyKey, and Launch Control, plus available TrackApps, MyColor gauges, BlindSpot Information System, and Selectable Drive Modes (steering effort, engine response, and stability control).
* Sequential LED taillights return. Front fenders switch to aluminum.
* The '15 Mustang will be sold globally, including factory-produced right-hand drive models for Great Britain, Australia, etc.
* Vintage cues: honeycomb front grille with chrome running horse, tri-bar taillights, fastback roofline, triple LED parking lights to mimic the '65-'66 Mustang's headlight door "vents," and long hood and short deck with raised, wider haunches over the rear tires.
* The Shelby GT 500 has been discontinued. Will we see another Shelby or Boss 302 in the future? Or both? Ford is not saying.
* Pricing has not been announced.

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