Witness A New New Golden Age of Affordable Performance Muscle
Everyone has a Mustang story. Even if you’ve never owned one, chances are somewhere along the line, the Mustang has touched your life. My wife’s entry into this world almost occurred in the backseat of the Ford icon. Luckily her parents made it to the hospital with little time to spare and the upholstery lived to see another day. My first car was a black 1977 Mustang II with lacey spoke aluminum wheels, based on a Pinto platform, but mine had a 302; that’s a 5.0 liter V8 breathing through a lowly two-barrel carburetor.
The new six-generation Mustang introduced in 2015 is a different beast altogether. Think about what a daunting engineering and design assignment it must have been to reinvent a cultural icon after 50 years of production. I have to say when I was at the world debut in Detroit a couple years back I was not impressed. Okay, nice job guys but nothing to redefine the genre. But since then the style has grown on me BIG time, and I now enjoy looking at a bit of European flair and sexiness never seen in Mustang’s history.
At once immediately recognizable as a Mustang thanks to its long hood, sloping fastback and tri-bar taillights, it’s also thoroughly modern with sleek lines, aggressive headlights and windswept design. Ford has nixed the “hockey stick” side look in favor of sleeker creases, and the results are beautiful. In functional terms, 2.3-liter models have active grille shutters that can close to direct airflow around the car to enhance efficiency. Mustang convertibles have a fabric top that’s lined and insulated within.
The return of the 2.3-liter turbo with modern computer bits and Eco Boost wiz bang technology produces an engine with more power than the V-6 offering. Back in 1996 the limited edition SVO Mustang squeezed 205 HP out of this displacement. In 2016 that number is 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. My six-speed manual delivered 22-MPG City and 31 highway numbers.
The 6th-generation Mustang’s interior is appealing and functional, especially if you step up to a premium trim. Modern yet retro, Ford’s newest pony car boasts easy-to-reach audio/climate controls, sturdy switches and comfortable front seats. The two rear seats are tight for adults, especially in headroom. Trunk cargo space is better than expected – 13.5 cubic feet in coupes, 11.4 in convertibles – and the rear seats fold flat to accommodate longer items. In convertible Mustangs, only one hand is needed to release the latch for the power-operated soft top.
The Ford Mustang coupe and convertible come in three major trims: V6, EcoBoost and GT. A base V6 model includes push-button start, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with an auxiliary input, rear-view camera, Ford’s sync communication and entertainment system, high-intensity headlights, 17-inch wheels, and selectable-effort power steering. Also standard is Track Apps, which displays performance metrics such as acceleration times. EcoBoost models include the 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 6-way power front seats and 18-inch wheels. GT models include the 5.0-liter V8, 19-inch wheels, the line-lock feature, and launch control on manual-transmission models.
Step inside the Mustang and the significant interior improvements make it difficult to know where to begin. Choice materials and cool touches are abound. The first time availability of safety and electronic equipment are truly welcomed. The Eco Boost Premium and top-line GT models offer a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, navigation, leather seats, and safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision alert. Adaptive cruise control is also now available on Ford’s 4-seat performance car, as are heated and cooled front seats, and hard core track performance packages.
The driver’s dynamics are great as the Mustang gets its long overdue independent rear suspension. The cool touches work great too, from the toggle switch starter switch to the performance track apps in the instrument cluster. At night, when the key fob is pushed to unlock the Stang, the logo is clearly seen projected on the pavement. This is way cool. The fashion-driven Mini brand pinched the idea straight away, adding the feature to the 2016 Clubman – which I recently drove and will be reporting on very soon.
Three engine choices are available in the 2015 models. The base V6 Mustang comes with a 3.7-liter V6 making 300 horsepower, while the top-line GT uses a revamped 5.0-liter V8 that now makes 435 horsepower.mpg. All the engines can run on regular unleaded if you don’t want to spring for the pricier stuff. All Mustangs are rear-wheel drive and can be fitted with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
I can’t wait to love sample the GT model with its 435 hp V8, and the most powerful normally aspirated Mustang ever, the Shelby GT 350 with is 5.2 liter V8 and 526 horsepower.
No question the 2015-2016 Mustang IS BACK!!! And there’s a model for everyone. The price of a loaded Eco Boost Premium model came in around 35K. Hats off to the entire Ford engineering and design team.