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2015 Ford Mustang Review: Our First Ride!
Our first ride impressions of the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang
It’ll be months before the real 2015 Ford Mustang review, but we got our first ride today, making us among the first small group of journalists to sit in the all-new car while it’s moving under power. We weren’t allowed to drive or to see the engine, but we took several autocross laps in the right-hand seat and pored all over the car while asking questions. The basics are well known by now: the 2015 Ford Mustang is an all-new platform, sharing nothing with the old car, and it includes independent rear suspension, a first for the entire Mustang line. The Mustang will be sold globally, and right-hand-drive models will be commonplace. The engine offerings will be a slightly improved version of the current 3.7L V6 as a the base, a 2.3L EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder as the mid-level option, and a modified version of the current 5.0L V8 at the top end (at least until a presumed deluge of higher-performance models are released after the initial model year). The EcoBoost four-cylinder shares absolutely nothing with the Pinto-based 2.3L engines of the past. Power numbers were quoted as “more than 305 hp and more than 310 lb-ft,” and the power curve is said to be a tabletop. No one from Ford would crack a power claim for the 5.0L, but one engineer said, “oh, don’t worry—it’s way better than the current one.”
The V6 and four-cylinder 2015 Ford Mustang will have a base suspension platform and an optional performance package that includes upgraded springs, dampers, and antiroll bars. The 5.0L car gets beefier springs/dampers/bars of its own. All the cars sit lower than the current Mustang—with both a lower roofline and less gaping ugliness between the top of the tires and the sheetmetal. The rearend centersection was confirmed to be essentially a standard 8.8, though parts interchangeability with current aftermarket parts remains to be seen. The V6 and turbo-four models will have an aluminum case for the centersection, while the 5.0L cars get an iron case. Every 2015 Ford Mustang from the base V6 on up carries a limited-slip diff. Base gears are 3.31s and 3.55s will be optional, at a minimum.
On the test rides, we sat shotgun in an EcoBoost four-cylinder Mustang with a six-speed auto trans for demonstrations of the new electronic driving modes, from touring to sport to track. These settings change the traction control system, allowing for various levels of yaw and slip prior to the computer stepping in to spoil the fun, and they also affect the shift points and snappiness of the auto trans and the tip-in rate of the fly-by-wire throttle body. In the top mode, the transmission is manually controlled via paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. Never before seen by us, the automatic trans has a rev-match feature for downshifting that’s pretty cool; pull to a stop and it sounds like you’re really good at heel-and-toeing a manual trans as the throttle blips to match engine speed and road speed for each gear. Yet, disappointingly, the rev match feature will not be available on manual-trans models. The electric power steering is adjustable independent of the other ride modes.
Honestly, it was hard to judge the performance modes from the passenger seat, aside from the trans features. However, we were rapt with observing the design features and engine power. Most importantly, we spotted a peak of 15 psi on the oddly decorated boost gauge, and 18 pounds is said to be possible with more load and rpm. While the new four-cylinder—with its direct injection and twin-scroll turbo—should be more powerful than the pushrod V8s of the Fox-body days, we can’t jump with that story until we’ve had more experience with the car. It didn’t feel as strong as we’d hoped. To be fair, we didn’t spend a lot of time at WOT. We also couldn’t pry out a claim of vehicle weight versus the old package, but we’re guessing it’s a lot for 305ish horsies to haul. But it’s a good day to be alive when we can critique a ‘banger with 300-plus horsepower.
When we’ve posted images of the 2015 Ford Mustang around the HOT ROD digital world, we’ve been flooded with hate comments. “Too ugly,” they scream. To us, the car carries a more subtle design evolution than we expected from the pre-reveal buzz. We’d hoped to be able to hate what was presumed to be a step closer to Japanese-car design, but we only really see that in the headlights. It’s still a bit catfish-lipped like the ’13-up models. The signature side coves are still there, sort of. To our eye, the rear of the car is acceptably muscular—the swoopiest iteration of the retro-moderne fastback deal.
Inside, the Ford team strove to make big leaps in quality and connectivity to appeal to more of the atypical Mustang buyers, yet the interior carries very familiar design themes. The dash and IP shape is still influenced by the ’67-’68 models, and the trim levels of the cars we observed included engine-turned plastic (?) that looked pretty cool. The material quality seemed about the same to us, or a notch up, with the exception of the row of paddle switches at the bottom center of the dash, which struck us as more than a little Mattel.
That’s about all we can throw out there thus far. We’re still compelled by the Mustang, and can’t wait to drive one with the correct number of cylinders.
David Freiburger is the content director for the HOT ROD network and the former editor-in-chief of HOT ROD