Ford claims the 2015 Mustang — with its new suspension and turbo engine built for world consumption — straddles that line to perfection. On the canyon roads outside of Malibu, Calif., we took the wheel to discover what the truth was.
Gifting the new car its independent rear suspension was – in one engineer’s words – a way to shut people up. They were quick to point out that by ditching the solid rear axle Mustangs have always used, the car gained 100 lbs, and required a complete redesign of the front suspension to match the new rear.
My day began in the 5.0-liter V-8 with a Getrag six-speed manual transmission. The car didn’t have the $2,495 performance package – which includes a Torsen 3.73 differential, bigger Brembo brakes, stiffer suspension and a larger rear anti-roll bar – and my Pirelli P Zeros were all-seasons rather than sticky summer tires.
On the road, my first thought compared to the outgoing GT was that the sound of the 5.0 felt muted. It didn’t have the same rambunctious roar I remembered, either inside the cabin or out.
Still, the big V-8 pulled well above 3,000 rpm, and frankly I couldn’t care less about garnering attention. With the six-speed manual now tighter and crisper, the short gear ratios ensure you’re focused on driving. (Manuals are the perfect antidote for those who might text behind the wheel.)
Even without the performance package, the Mustang’s new suspension felt a touch softer, but the balance was neutral, with lots of mid-corner rotation – almost too much for my spongy all-seasons. (Having experienced the performance pack on the four-banger, it’s a must-have option; the excess roll vanishes and the rotation feels far more natural and predictable throughout a turn.)
Ford has done a wonderful job ensuring its electric power steering communicates with the driver. The steering features three modes – comfort, normal and sport – with normal being the preferred choice. Sport felt a bit heavy without gaining any extra sense of the road, and comfort was somewhat float-y. It’s one of the new car’s best features, and comfortably outmatches the Challenger and Camaro.
This produces the wildest elevens imaginable. It allows up to 15 seconds of braking before sending you on your merry way, and I got to 13 seconds – having filled the California countryside with enough smoke to trick the fire department into assuming another forest fire was nearby — before chickening out. Trust me, 13 seconds of a stationary burnout is plenty.
With a lighter motor up front, the weight balance is closer to 50/50, and on paper, it should handle better than the V-8. Tipping the scales at 3,524 lbs., it remains a mere six pounds heavier than the lightest 2014 V-6; all other variants gained a decent chunk of weight during reworking.
The engine purrs on acceleration, but there’s no real growl, or much noise from the wastegate. It doesn’t sound bad from behind the wheel, though, and it’s not clear what kind of trickery Ford may be using to alter the engine’s note inside the cabin.
Taking an icon like the Mustang and reinventing it never makes sense. Cars like the Porsche 911 and Corvette Stingray demonstrate the value of steady, continuing progression.
The new Mustang is a truly solid platform to build upon, and upcoming monsters like the GT350 have the potential to unleash something special indeed. As for the turbo four — well, the critics will have to fight that one out. It’s a great car. I’m just not sure it’s a Mustang yet.