It’s arguably the most legendary nameplate in automotive history, and this, the sixth edition, will be the car that carries the Mustang name past its 50th year. It’s fitting, then, that Ford returned to the very first Mustang for much of its inspiration.
The 2015 pony isn’t much smaller than the current edition, but it looks more sleek, with cleaner lines. The wheelbase is identical to the outgoing model, while the body is just a fifth of an inch shorter. The rear track is an inch and a half wider, and the top line is 1.4 inches lower to the ground. Visually, it gives the car the long, lean look of the 1964.5 Mustang that is the ideal in everyone’s imagination, and it appears to have lost a lot of useless bulk.
It has actually lost 200 pounds.
Up front, the Aston Martin-like trapezoidal grille that Ford is working into everything blends nicely with the traditional wide-mouth Mustang fascia, while the hood features a power dome with working heat extractors. The headlights are LEDs, with the usual three-bar configuration now tilted inward.
Photos don’t do the car justice. The front end, in particular, features more subtle detail than the camera seems to show. On the show model, tolerances are extremely tight. If production cars feature panel gaps anything close to this, we’ll be very impressed.
But the rear angle may be the car’s best look. The fastback is back at last, more clearly distinguishing the ‘Stang from its Camaro competition. The three-bar rear light configuration is back, but the gem-style lights are more prominent, reminiscent of the 1969 edition. The rear fascia has a rakish forward tilt to it, and a body-color diffuser and wide-set twin pipes give the rear some aggression.
Ford says most of the colors from last year are back, but Gotta Have It Green is gone (we’ll miss it) replaced with Competition Orange, Yellow Tricoat, and a darker Guard Green.
Inside, the remake is radical. The hard plastic that plagued fourth- and fifth-generation Mustangs isn’t completely gone, but it’s used far less than before. Instead, a wide strip of brushed metal dominates the dash, and leather with contrast-color stitching is prominent.
Ford says that designers used airplane cockpits as their inspiration for the gauges and center stack. That isn’t obvious to us, but they have an updated, clean look, and, thankfully, there are plenty of dials and buttons and toggle switches in addition to the touchscreen, so that drivers don’t have to use complicated touchscreen menus to change simple functions in the climate control or radio.
Sadly, it looks like they’ve lost the best feature of the 2014 model — its perfect steel-ball shifter has been replaced with a fatter, leather-and-metal version.
The best feature in the interior of the new one might be a simple plaque on the passenger’s side that reads “Mustang, since 1964.” Tasteful call-out to history.
Under the hood, you’ll have the option of a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, or improved versions of the 3.7-liter V6 and the beloved 5.0-liter Coyote V8. Ford didn’t provide any performance numbers, but we’re told that the 6 and 8 will each be more powerful than last year. More interesting than that, though, is the fact that the V6 will be the base engine, with the turbo’d four a step up.
The transmissions are carry-overs — you can have a six-speed stick or a six-speed auto, both by Gertrag.
Ford may need all the nods to Mustang history, though, to satisfy purists — because they’ve done away with the mechanical detail some consider most integral to the car’s identity. The live rear axle is gone.
In its place, we get an independent rear suspension for the first time. There are no live axle muscle cars left.
Ford didn’t plan to update the front suspension, but after track testing, they didn’t like the way the old setup worked with the new IRS rear. So the front gets an all-new design as well, featuring MacPherson struts.
Brakes start with 12.6-inch front and rear rotors, with two-pistons calipers in front and one in back. EcoBoost models will get the same, but an optional Performance Pack upgrades that to 13.9-inch front rotors with four-piston calipers, and 13-inch rear rotors with just one. V8 buyers will get the Performance Pack, while GT will sport Brembos and replace the front brakes with 15-inch rotors and six-piston calipers.
“Several” wheel designs are on offer, but we don’t have details. We’re told that 18 to 20 inches will be available from the factory.
Steering will have a sport mode, accessible via a toggle switch on the fly. Best of all, launch control makes an appearance.
Performance and pricing data aren’t yet available, so feast on the photos and introduction videos for now. It’s not every year we get a new Corvette and a new Mustang. Happy holidays, gearheads.