2015 Ford Mustang First Look
Brawn, Beauty, Breeding
There was no shortage of opinions or ideas when it came to creating the 2015 Ford Mustang.
The sixth-generation Mustang marks the 50th birthday for the iconic sport coupe, and nearly everyone within the company—and even more outside of it—wanted to share their thoughts with the 500 executives, designers, and engineers tasked with developing it. Suggestions came from everywhere, insiders told Motor Trend.
All-wheel-drive models, wagon variants, diesel powertrains, and even a notchback were pitched. Many ideas were scrapped immediately with a polite “Thank you,” while others were considered and sometimes explored by the group known as Team Mustang.
“About the only suggestion we didn’t get was for a front-drive version,” said Dave Pericak, the Mustang’s chief engineer.
The final version of the 2015 Ford Mustang is a beautifully sculpted vehicle worthy of the pony perched on its trapezoidal grille. It connects the past to the present and readies the Mustang for the next 50 years with three powertrains, an all-new integral-link independent rear suspension, and loads of driver-friendly features.
A Leaner Look
The best way to view any car is from a distance. Stand too close, and you’ll miss its real impact. It’s why Ford uses a secure courtyard to look at different versions of a car.
Last June, after working on it for three years, Pericak finally saw the Mustang in the courtyard as it appears now. It gave him goose bumps. From 50 feet, the 2015 Ford Mustang is stunning. It has the presence of a soldier at the ready—muscular, lean, and ready to attack. As you move closer, it remains just as impressive.
Designers were inspired by the 1965, 1967, and 1969 Mustangs, but created a modern vehicle. Less evolution, more revolution.
“We pulled out all the stops,” said Joel Piaskowski, director of exterior design. “And in the end we were able to lower it and rework the proportions that give it that right stance.”
Carrying over such things as the front suspension and floor pan would've saved money on the vehicle design, but would've limited how the vehicle's proportions could look. Changing them gave designers more freedom, but added some cost. But the most common mantra within Team Mustang was “Get it right.” The team did.
While the new Mustang keeps the same wheelbase of 107.1 inches, the hood was lowered 1.3, the rear decklid was lowered 2.8, and the roof was lowered 1.5. Designers also widened the car’s track by 1.6 inches. There was also some extremely impressive tooling done on this vehicle, with parts that even 10 years ago could not have been pressed in big numbers, if at all.
“It’s a credit to the engineers that they could create the tools to build this car,” said Moray Callum, the head of Ford’s global design.
The rear shoulder on the 2015 Ford Mustang harks back to the ’69 fastback and is wide enough to hold a Hungry Man TV dinner level. These broad shoulders provide a base for the best back end on any ponycar—wide, low, and powerful, accented by the signature three-piece sequential taillights.
There are other features taken from the past, such as the blackout B-pillars and the angled taillamp closure panel that both dramatically change the car’s appearance. The front end features a deep grille opening that now follows a Fusion-esque trapezoidal shape. The headlamps have three diagonal light stripes that provide a menacing stare when on the road. Another trick designers used in creating the Mustang was to pull details off one at a time and see if they were really needed. “If it still looked like a Mustang, we kept it off,” Piaskowski said. This created a cleaner exterior with fewer wrinkles and creases along the body. But it still looks and feels like a Mustang, whether you’re 50 feet away or sitting in the driver’s seat.
From the Inside
During the Mustang’s development, interior designers narrowed their choices to two competing interiors. One had an aviation theme. It featured additional gauges at the top of the center console and toggle switches at the bottom. The thick steering wheel included a host of buttons and switches.
The second was cleaner, but provided a higher-end luxury theme focused on quality materials throughout the cabin. If it looked like metal, it would be metal. Ultimately, the two themes were merged to create a more luxurious cabin that looks ready to fly.
When you sit in the Mustang, the view is perfect. Visibility, which was always good, is enhanced by the rearward repositioning of the A-pillar. It’s easy to reach any of the center stack buttons, unless you prefer to use the Sync and MyFord Touch voice commands. There are USB ports and two 12V ports, though the high-mounted 12V port was removed, meaning radar detector cords will have to stretch a little farther. In higher-end models, there are two gauges at the top of the dash. (Base models will have air vents located there.)
Behind the steering wheel are paddle shifters if the car has an automatic transmission. To make using the manual transmission easier, the cupholders were moved slightly to the right and the stick pulled to the left to prevent the driver’s arm from hitting anything in the cupholder. Some of the buttons have never before seen inside a Mustang, such as the driving-mode selector, adaptive cruise control switch, and the push-button starter. The driving-mode selector switch provides three stages of aggressiveness affecting stability control thresholds, rev matching on manuals and shift points on automatics, throttle inputs, and steering feel.
Additionally, the Mustang joins the 21st century with remote start, keyless entry, and a track app that’s standard on GT models, with launch control and tire-pressure monitoring.
Originally, the 2015 Ford Mustang was to be offered with only two engines, the 5.0-liter V-8 and the all-new EcoBoost 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Both are mated to Ford’s six-speed transmissions, which have been upgraded to handle additional power and, for the automatic, to provide smoother shifts. The 3.7-liter V-6 was added to the Mustang stable during development for a very simple reason: price, although it will be months before pricing is announced.
“We wanted the Mustang to remain obtainable to our customers, so we kept the V-6 as the base model,” said vehicle engineering manager Tom Barnes.
Ford did not release final power numbers on any of the engines, but admitted the 3.7-liter will produce the same output it does now at 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
The 5.0-liter gets bigger intake and exhaust valves and a higher-lift cam profile. All 5.0 models will get the former Boss 302 valve springs and connecting rods as well as an oil cooler. Output should exceed the 420 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque currently found on the 5.0-liter. Top speed for the new Mustang GT will be electronically limited at 155 mph.
The twin-scroll, turbocharged direct injection 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine will move the Mustang into a much more modern world as well as bolster Ford’s EcoBoost name. The 2.3 will outpower the V-6, engineers said, and is expected to earn the best fuel economy numbers in the musclecar class.
Recent Mustang iterations have been “axle shamed” by the media, Camaro owners, and anyone else looking to slag Ford's ponycar, while drag racers argued in favor of the Mustang’s continued use of a live rear axle instead of an independent rear suspension. That debate ends next year. The new Mustang arrives with a multilink rear suspension, and front struts located by two ball-jointed links at the bottom. This decouples ride isolation and handling firmness to improve the Mustang’s steering, and makes space for bigger brakes. Rotor sizes range from 12.6 to 15.0 inches in front and from 12.6 to 13.0 inches in the rear.
“For all intents and purposes, this is a new platform. Maybe a couple fasteners have carried over,” claimed Pericak.
All the above means the Mustang should be noticeably faster and more fun.
“This car will be easier to drive to higher limits,” explained Raj Nair, Ford’s head of engineering. If true, this new Mustang arrives with more promise than the original.
“Acceleration, lateral handling, and stopping -- we set to improve all those on the car and we did,” Barnes said. So start your engine. This Mustang is ready to ride.