Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
July 15, 2014

Riding the Wind

Not only does the new '15 Mustang have a striking new design, but it's also more aerodynamic, which will help it cut through the air and hug the road.

"Even with the classic, forward-leaning shark-bite grille and a more aggressive stance for the new Mustang, the aerodynamics team has made it slice through the air better for increased fuel efficiency while also keeping it planted to the road at higher speeds," said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer. "The best part is that they met the challenge of creating the sleekest Mustang yet without resorting to a characterless teardrop shape."

Of course, having better aero really helps the car from a fuel-efficiency standpoint, but for us it means improved performance as well. The air management not only helps improve cooling and fuel economy—via technology like active grille shutters on the EcoBoost 2.3—but it even cuts down on wind noise. Achieving all these improvements was largely thanks to the magic of computers.

"With the new Mustang, we spent about twice as much time running aerodynamic simulations and doing wind-tunnel tests than the previous Mustang," said Carl Widmann, aerodynamics engineering manager. "Major advances in our computational fluid-dynamics capability let us test the effect of design changes and give feedback to the studio in less than 48 hours, so they had more opportunity to try out different styling ideas."

These efforts keep the Mustang GT stable at 155 mph, and the overall drag force is reduced by 3 percent, which is said to yield a 1-percent increase in fuel economy. We can't wait to see how it improves performance at the track!


'Boost in Production

It's clear that Ford's future is tightly linked to EcoBoost. This pairing of direct injection and turbocharging allows for large-engine performance from smaller engines. This phenomenon is obviously popular with Ford customers as well, with over 50 percent of F-150 customers opting for the 3.5L or 3.7L EcoBoost engines. Because of that popularity, the company is making a big investment in EcoBoost production capabilities at its Lima Engine Plant near Cleveland.

"Our truck customers have spoken, and we continue to meet their evolving needs by providing another V-6 option in the all-new 2015 F-150," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas. "The hardworking team at Lima Engine is thrilled to begin building one of the most technologically advanced engines ever designed for America's number one truck."

Ford will invest $500 million to revamp 700,000 square feet at the Lima plant for new machining and assembly of this new EcoBoost variant.

"Lima Engine has kept Ford and Lincoln vehicles running for nearly 60 years," said Bruce Hettle, Ford vice president, North America Manufacturing. "Bringing production of the new 2.7L EcoBoost to Lima Engine Plant helps build a solid future both for Ford and the dedicated workers in Ohio."


World Drift

Mustang drift star Vaughn Gittin Jr. qualified second at the Formula Drift season opener in Long Beach, California, before going down in the second round, but don't look for him to slow down. When he isn't sliding around tracks in the United States, he is bringing his style of tail wagging to an international audience in China in the World Drift Series.

"Over the last three years, the Mustang and I have become a crowd favorite," Vaughn said. "The fans are amazing, they know me, and I feel like they're totally embracing the sport. Of course, the roar of a 650hp racing V-8 echoing inside the stadium helps a lot. People's eyes light up and they point as if I was riding a unicorn."

He stays busy drifting over there so often that he keeps a prepped Mustang RTR in China, so he can just fly in and get behind the wheel. Certainly this saves time and money transporting the Mustang drifter to the events, but he still has to dial in the tuning of the car for each event.

"We get in after a 20-hour flight and it's straight to business," Vaughn added. "That means unpacking the car, tools, and tires, and getting set up for competition."

Soon Vaughn won't be the only one enjoying a Mustang in China. As the '15 Mustang goes international, Mustang fans there will soon be able to buy their own.


Take the Challenge

As we said elsewhere on these pages, Ford is all about EcoBoost engine technology. If you haven't driven an EcoBoosted Ford yet, you certainly owe it to yourself to do so. It is, after all, coming to the Mustang.

Thanks to Ford's EcoBoost Challenge tour, you can get out and drive a variety of EcoBoosted vehicles in 12 cities across the country. The tour started in early April, but hopefully you have a chance to hit one of these events.

"Whether it's our EcoBoost or electrified products, there's no better way to experience the quality, innovation, and fun of the Ford lineup than to get in the driver's seat," said Amy Marentic, Ford Global Car and Crossover Group marketing manager. "The EcoBoost Challenge lets consumers experience for themselves the technology that helps Ford deliver better fuel economy and a more engaged driving experience than the competition. And it's just a lot of fun!"

The part of the event that will excite most of you is the ST Performance Academy, featuring Fiesta and Focus STs. Other events are a Hybrid Challenge to test your economical driving skills, as well as an Ecoboost Challenge, pitting Fords against their competitive vehicles. The events are only held on Saturdays to make them as accessible as possible. You can sign up at ecoboostdrive.com.


Contingency Plan

The Cobra Jet continues to rewrite the racing record books every time there is an event, and thanks to Ford Racing (www.fordracingparts.com), the racers will have even more opportunities to profit from their performance. In early April, Ford Racing posted a $25,000 award for any Stock or Super Stock Championship in a '14 NHRA series; Second and Third Place finishers can take home $5,000 and $1,000 respectively.

"The Cobra Jet has been the most successful late-model racer in NHRA, holding numerous records and national event wins," said Jesse Kershaw, Ford Racing drag racing competition manager. "Our Cobra Jet teams are among the best in the sport. We want to incentivize and reward them for their dedication and hard work with this contingency program."

Ford Racing has also posted $7,500 in total payouts for winners in the four Factory Stock Showdown races this season. A win in FS/A gains a racer $2,500, a win in FS/B will also earn a racer $2,500, while the champion can take home $5,000.

"The Factory Stock Showdown is a fan favorite that showcases late-model factory hot rods in a heads-up format," said Kershaw. "We're excited to help promote and grow the class."

And grow it has. If you have the chance to see these Cobra Jets race, do it. They are amazing. Likewise, if you are thinking about racing one, Ford Racing has given you thousands of reasons to do so.


5.0 Feedback

Latest and Greatest

Someone please remind Tim Handy that he forfeited the privilege to complain about the S550 when he bought a V-6 Mustang and then proclaimed it his favorite.

As an '04 Cobra owner (who's also owned a '93 notch and an '89 GT), I like the direction in which the '15 is headed. I'm probably the only one who'll admit this, but the current GT left me flaccid. The shifter feels floppy, the engine isn't as punchy as I'd hoped (yeah, I'm spoiled by a 2.76-pulley Eaton), and the Coyote hits its rev limiter before the tach shows redline. The two biggest negatives are the solid axle (I love the handling and ride of the IRS in my '04) and the size of the car—the '13 GT I drove felt like an unwieldy boat compared to my New Edge.

The '15 is clearly an improvement. The IRS, lighter weight, and slightly smaller size are all for the better. (In fact, I wish Ford had shrunk its poundage and dimensions even further!) I really like the tapered rear greenhouse and flared haunches. Those changes give the back of the car something of a Porsche 911 feel.

What really boggles my mind is people who complain about the styling. The '15 is a more dramatic change than the '10, but not hugely so. How can someone who liked the '10-'14 hate the '15?

I'm most looking forward to is the rumored flat-plane crankshaft V-8 that's in the pipeline. I love the sound of a 4.6 with Flowmasters, but the Ferrari-esque sound of the flat-plane mill will give me chills.

I can't wait to see more of your coverage of Ford's latest and greatest!

Dave Mack
Via email

Thanks for the kind words, Dave. You are certainly confident in your convictions about your car, the current car, and the 2015. It's not really fair to compare a modded Terminator to a stock Coyote. Just a tune will raise that rev limiter and really give the 5.0 legs, just as that pulley woke up your blown 4.6. However, we would agree that Ford designers bridged the retro of the earlier S197s to the 2015 by giving the '10-'14 cars a sharper edge with its Kinetic design. So far that flat-plane stuff is just conjecture, but we are equally excited about what's to come from this new platform.

Stirring Dreams

Per your request in the King of the Street article in the May '14 issue, I'm writing to express my wholehearted love of KOTS. I bought my '95 Cobra in 2003, which was your first year of KOTS. I remember it stirring some big dreams in me immediately. I've looked forward to the competition every year since, as it represents the best of the best that the custom Mustang community has to offer.

In the meantime. my car has gone from a stock 225hp snoozefest to a 556-rwhp, Procharged 347 with HRE wheels, an IRS swap, Air Ride suspension, four-wheel Wilwood brakes, and much more... I know I'll probably never reach the level of KOTS (at least not until I make a move on my plans of a Dart 363 and a lot of boost), but nevertheless each year this article always inspires me to push my car a bit further, and it would be a shame to see it go.

That said, if you are looking for a slight format change, I think a few hot laps on a short road circuit or autocross for a best lap time might be a cool addition. The Mustang community has historically been mostly drag-oriented (myself excluded), but in recent years, the corner-carver population in the ranks has grown considerably. This addition to the format might appeal to those who are not as interested in drag racing.

Dan McConnell
Via email

Thanks for the feedback, Dan. Our KOTS main man Michael Johnson is busy in the 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords laboratory tweaking the KOTS recipe to have it come back stronger than ever this year. Adding some corner-carving would really make it tough on the competitors, as it is hard enough to tune a car for streetability and huge power. It is yet another thing to make that combination also work on a race track, whether or not it has corners.

Stay tuned as we get closer to this year's edition to see what's in store.

Drag King

I think you guys should keep KOTS, but I believe that the drag racing portion should be worth more than 10 percent. What's the point of having over a 1,000 horsepower to the wheels if you can't drive it worth a damn and can only bust off a low 11 while the guy in the other lane who knows how to drive his car with 500 hp makes you look silly? In that way, you can keep out all of the dyno queens.

Will Cordero
Via email

We can see you are a fan of drag racing, Will. We are fans too. However, there are plenty of venues for drag racers to test their mettle. The genesis of the KOTS competition was to judge the vehicle's performance, while somewhat downplaying the human factor that enters when you race. We wanted to see how far people could push Mustang performance and still maintain the kind of streetability that the average person could deal with on a daily basis.

As we have seen over the years, it is exceptionally rare for a car to acquit itself well in every category. Often, it is the lower-powered, more-drag oriented cars that do well at the racetrack. The full-weight street cars on radials with huge rear-wheel horsepower are difficult to get down the dragstrip, even for experienced drivers. However, the lighter, racier Mustangs rarely drive as well, which is far more important at this event.

Like it or not, KOTS is about the street and the dyno, but we like to think of them as dyno kings…


Short Times

Ford attempted to set a Guinness World Records title for most contributions on an electronic card by soliciting signatures on an electronic birthday card for the Mustang. The company only needed to surpass 50,000 signatures, so we would hope they were able to handily break that record…