Ford revealed the all-new, sixth-generation Mustang last week in a four-content event encompassing major cities like Barcelona, New York and Shanghai. The global event supported the new pony car's more worldly focus. The latest Mustang drops the heavily retro influence of generation five in favor of a more modern look and feel. It also gets the latest technologies, including an EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo.
If you've grown accustomed to the throwback styling of the fifth-generation Mustang, the 2015 model may be a bit of a shock. Unlike the fifth-gen design process, which made a very purposeful attempt at recreating specific styling cues from the 1960s, gen-six designers were working with a much more general definition of traditional Mustang styling: long, sculpted hood, short rear deck and a fastback cabin in between. Within that basic framework, they created a contemporary look aimed at broadening the car's appeal for a larger global market.
To be honest, it took us a second to even recognize this new car as a Mustang when we first saw its face. In its attempt at a more modern look, the redesign takes some direction from the Evos concept.
Gone are the fifth-generation's wide-eyed headlamps set behind a forward-leaning nose, replaced by a set of narrower, more sinister eyes that leer at the onlooker. They're not quite as narrow as the slits on the Evos, but the influence comes through. The fog light buckets at the edges of the 2014 GT's grille are supplanted by more traditional set-ups in the lower corners. The nose has a more upright posture, and it rolls fluidly into the cut-and-pinched hood from the upper lip of the hexagonal grille, another styling point borrowed from the Evos.
The cabin is framed by a steeply sloped windshield that melds into a lowered roof line, quickly transitioning into a long, slow plunge to the short deck in back. Ford calls it the "return of Mustang fastback," and it gives the Mustang a profile that looks more "European exotic," less "American muscle". That profile view includes a pair of vertical character lines, the lower of which is straightened out when compared to the check mark on the current Mustang. The upper line gets broken at the muscle mass over the rear wheel and then picks up again around the fuel door.
"What [you're] looking at is a car that has been lowered, a car that has been widened, a car that has more of a animalistic stance to it," explains Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer, continuing, "one that is more aggressive and sporty, then where we were, but taking all of the heritage that we have within Mustang and interpreting it in an extremely modern way."
The rear-end is the most familiar element. The broad, flat upper fascia and triple-bar taillights look similar to their gen-five counterparts. The taillights are more three-dimensional, however. Down below, a body-matching rear diffuser is flanked by dual tailpipes.
Ford focused last week's reveal mainly on the new Mustang hard-top. It did show the new convertible in Sydney, but only mentions it briefly in its press release: "Mustang convertible drivers will appreciate the standard multilayer insulated cloth top that gives the car a more upscale appearance and a quieter cabin. The new top lowers twice as fast as before, and has a sleeker profile when folded for open-air motoring."
Underneath its overhauled styling, the new Mustang runs on completely revised chassis and powertrain equipment. Ford calls it the "most nimble pony ever."
"We already set a very high standard for Mustang’s dynamics with Boss 302, and our goal was to go above and beyond that with this new car," says Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer.
To accomplish that goal, Pericak and Co. gave the 2015 Mustang all-new front and rear suspension systems. The big news is in back, where the car treats drivers to an integral-link independent rear suspension, its geometry, springs, dampers and bushings tuned specifically for the high-performance muscle car. Up front, the double-ball-joint MacPherson strut system cradles the wheels, while a new perimeter subframe provides a stiff foundation for better wheel control.
A trio of engine options delivers power to the extra-nimble wheels. The usual V6 and V8 options are still present, with Ford saying they receive unspecified upgrades from the 2014's 420-hp 5.0-liter V8 (GT) and 305-hp 3.7-liter V6. The third option is a 2.3-liter four-cylinder.
Even the most casual Mustang fan might cringe at the return of a four-cylinder, but this turbocharged EcoBoost has comparable output to the current 305-hp V6, along with the promise of segment-leading fuel economy – not a bad combination for daily driving. Ford expects it to put out more than 305 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
"This EcoBoost engine delivers where a Mustang driver expects it to, with a broad, flat torque curve that pours out when you stand on it for easy passing or hustling down a twisty road," promises Pericak.
The two transmission options are an updated Getrag manual that Ford says has smoother shifting from a better-placed shift knob and a new Select-Shift six-speed automatic that gives Mustang owners the option of paddle shifting.
The Mustang may come from times when "horsepower" and "displacement" were the most important terms in car technology, but generation six represents a modern Mustang infused with modern car technologies. Those include SYNC connectivity with AppLink, the MyKey teen driver safety system, and the available Blind Spot Information System.
Ford plans to broaden the reach of the latest Mustang by launching it in 110 countries, including new markets in Europe and Asia. This push will include for the first time original factory-built right-hand models for markets like the UK, Australia and Japan.
Ford's press release is suspiciously light and tentative for a car as significant as a next-generation Mustang, so we have the feeling that it will be sharing many more details at or in anticipation of an upcoming auto show between now and the start of production in the second half of 2014. The North American International Auto Show next month seems like the right venue, but Ford doesn't say so specifically. We'll be watching.
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