It?s no big secret that the Ford Mustang has been hugely popular since that first pony car made its debut back in the mid-60s. (I?ve always thought of the first model as being a ?65, but others insist that the first ?Stang was really a ?64 and a half.) Whatever. I?ve never really been a raging Mustang fan. Don?t get me wrong here, I?ve always thought that they were pretty cool, but have never owned one, and really never lusted to own one. My perception and perhaps that of many others recently got a rude awakening after test driving very different models of the all-new Ford Mustang Coupe during the vehicle?s national press launch.
There are actually three new sixth generation, 4-passenger, 2-door fastback coupe Ford Mustang models: a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline 4-cylinder powered version; a 3.7-liter V6 powered model; and the top of the line (so far) 5.0-liter TI-VCT V8 propelled muscle model. Ragtop or convertible Mustangs will bow at a later date.
My testing began at the top of the food chain, with the 5-liter V8 ? hey, go for the gusto first right? The engine is a DOHC, 32-valver with twin independent variable camshaft timing and Direct Injection that cranks out 435 horses at 6,500 rpm, while developing 400 pound feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. Available transmissions include a Getrag six-speed manual with Hill Start Assist or a six-speed SelectShift automatic. I chose the manual gearbox. Possibly the most notable revelation in this latest iteration, is the fact that Ford 86?d the old solid rear axle that?s been used forever, in favor of an integral link independent rear suspension with coil springs and a stabilizer bar (finally). The front suspension consists of Independent MacPherson struts, double ball joints and a stabilizer bar.
My test 5-liter V8 was the GT in Premium trim and wore a Magnetic Metallic (Dark Gray) exterior finish and came with an Ebony interior. The base sticker was set at $36,100. Which came to $42,790 after adding the following options: Equipment Group 401A with a Shaker Pro audio system with 12 speakers, HD radio, Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert; 19×8.5? Premium painted aluminum wheels with P255/40 R19 W-rated tires; Enhanced Security Package with Active anti-theft system and wheel locking kit; Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Mitigation and rain-sensing wipers; Premier Trim with color accent group; Reverse Park Assist; and voice activated Navigation system.
A Performance Pack suspension is optionally available that provides higher spring rates, a larger rear stabilizer bar, stiffer damping for both the front and rear, rear monotube shocks and staggered Pirelli P-Zero summer tires ? 255/40 R19 up front and 275/40 R19 aft, 3.73:1 Torsen differential as well as six-piston Brembo front brakes with 380 mm rotors. In addition, the Performance Pack comes with several supplemental structural stiffening pieces for the chassis, including stiffer front strut mounts.
My more recent test unit at home, was the 2015 Ford Mustang GT Fastback Coupe in Premium trim. It wore an exterior coat of Ruby Red metallic tint coat an came with an Ebony leather Recaro seats. The base sticker read $36,300 while options elevated the final price tag to $$46,480. Options included: Equipment Group 401A with the HD Shaker Pro Audio 12 speaker system; the metallic tinted clear coat paint; Enhanced security package; Adaptive Cruise Control; GT Performance Package; Premiere Trim with clear accent Group; Reverse Park Assist; Recaro Leather seats; Voice-activated Navigation system and Destination and Delivery charge.
SUMMARY: Both versions of the 2015 Ford Mustang that we were afforded the opportunity to pilot rose above expectations and both served up a high performance level with an aerodynamic, clean sheet, new design along with innovative, state-of-the-art technology.
The new Ford Mustang looks, drives and sounds like it should ? at least the V8 does. The four-cylinder?s sound could be better, but it does everything else well. Acceleration is adequate with the 2.3-liter, and outstanding with the V8. In terms of handling, the four is more civilized with a lighter and more agile feeling due to its lesser nose weight. Steering delivers a positive feedback and responds quickly to driver input. The ride quality is vastly improved with the new suspension setups even in stock form. I?m sure that the Performance Pack ups the ante to an even higher degree in terms of both ride and handling attributes.
The independent rear suspension has eliminated side hop that used to come under more stressful and spirited performance maneuvers. Yea. A Selectable Drive Mode feature is available to tune in changes in steering effort, engine response as well as transmission and electronic stability control settings to suit the driving scenario at hand at any given time utilizing console mounted toggle switches. The GT models include a standard launch control for cars equipped with a manual gearbox.
Shifting is more responsive and smoother with both the manual and automatic transmissions. Automatic paddle shifter response is both rapid and seamless. Connectivity and safety elements and enhancements showcase the latest industry advancements, further increasing the New Mustang?s value.
0-60 mph times were not measured, but top speed for the V8-powered Mustang GT is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Both Mustangs tested displayed a planted stability on the twisting and challenging roads of Southern California?s Angeles Crest Highway, which is a Mecca for sport bike riders. The new pony cars were able to keep up with many of the sport bikes without losing nerve or confidence.
In the final scheme of things, the 2015 Ford Mustang lineup represents the best Mustang stable ever. It?s safe to say that I?ve been converted to being a Mustang fan, especially where the 5.0 GT is concerned. Can’t wait for the drop top versions to become available.
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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback Coupe [/wptabtitle]
|Price as Tested:||$46,480|
|Engine Type and Size:||5.0-liter. DOHC, 32-valve V8 with twin independent variable camshaft timing and sequential multiport electronic injection.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||435 @ 6,500 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||400 @ 4,250 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed automatic with SelectShift or six-speed manual with Hill Start Assist.|
|Drive Train:||Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-Wheel Drive with Limited slip differential.|
Front ? Double Ball Joint Independent with MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar.
Rear ? Integral Link Independent with coil springs and stabilizer bar
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front ? solid rear ? 2.3L) / 4-wheel vented 5.0Lwith ABS, AdvanceTrac? electronic stability control system.|
|Tires:||Pirelli P-Zero 255/40 ZR19 96W front / 275/40 ZR19 101Y rear mounted on 10-?Y?-spoke gloss black painted alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||188.3 inches|
|Width:||75.4 inches ? without mirrors|
|Curb Weight:||3,705 lbs|
|Fuel Capacity:||16 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||15 mpg city 25 highway|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed.|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not Tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.