DEARBORN, MICH. — It has been swathed in secrecy, but now the secret is out: the new Ford Mustang is leaner and meaner than ever before.
That’s a long time, too — the Mustang will be 50 years old next year and is recognized by Guinness as the world’s best-selling sports car.
This latest version is the sixth generation of the Pony Car, and Ford’s designers and engineers have been careful to make it an evolution rather than a revolution.
“We wanted to keep the essence of what makes Mustang — the passion that it has,” says design director Joel Piaskowski. “I can’t tell you the number of people who come to work at Ford because they want to work on Mustang.”
Physically, the roof of the new car is 38 mm lower than before and its rear deck is 72 mm lower, while its track is 70 mm wider and the car itself is 40 mm wider. The A-pillar’s been moved back 30 mm. Only the wheelbase remains unchanged.
More importantly, there’s extra space inside for the driver and all three passengers, although the two in the back are still going to be scrunched. The dashboard is pulled forward by 100 mm, thanks to the passenger airbag being contained in the glovebox door.
The entire interior is significantly more refined than before, and more comfortable, too. I sat in a non-working model parked beside a current model and there’s certainly more shoulder, hip and knee room. The leather seats hug comfortably enough that I wished the engine was under the hood, ready to go.
There will be three basic engine choices, as there are now. The current 3.7-L V6 will power the least-expensive version, but there will also be a 2.3-L Ecoboost built just for the Mustang. It will be more powerful than the V6, thanks partly to a twin scroll turbo and a three-port cylinder head.
There’s a V8, too, of course: a 5.0-L GT that Ford says will breathe better due to bigger intakes and an improved air flow, which will also include an oil cooler as standard.
A performance version is also planned. There are no figures yet, but it will be more powerful than the 444 hp of the current Boss 302 and will have a top speed of 250 km/h.
The Mustang is a halo brand for Ford and the maker hasn’t cut any corners in its design. The car is still at least six months away from production, so prices are not yet announced, but they shouldn’t be much different from the $23,000 to $36,000-and-up of the current model.
Ford says it aimed well above that price bracket in developing the new Mustang. During testing, engineers brought along other vehicles for comparison, including a BMW M3 and a Porsche 911 that sell for several times more.
“Even so,” says Piaskowski, “we understand what it means for this car to be ‘very attainable’ and we won’t deviate from that.”
After all, there are about 400 Mustang clubs and 5.3 million fans on Facebook, more than half of them from outside the U.S.
“We didn’t decide to do a global car — we decided to take Mustang global,” says Piaskowski, which means both a coupe and a convertible are planned.
The Canadian car may not look quite like the American version, though — those shark-gill running lights may not survive regulations north of the border.
The front of the car is supposed to look like “a fist punching through wind,” and the long, wide headlamps suggest a profile that’s even lower than it actually is. The hood is 32 mm lower than the current version, with an all-new sub-frame up front.
The brakes are bigger and the fully independent suspension is stiffer. It has a double ball joint front suspension and an integral link rear suspension, which give double the lift-and-squat control of before.
Inside, the Mustang has an “aircraft theme,” with large, round gauges and plenty of spun and brushed aluminum.
There are toggle switches at the base of the dash on the GT version that control the driving mode, electronic steering, and stability control. Push-button start will be standard across the line, as will a rear-view camera.
The interior is a huge upgrade from the current car in both quality of finish and available features. Ford says the new Mustang will have more than 20 new technologies that were previously unavailable.
These will include adaptive cruise control and collision warning, track apps on the display such as an acceleration timer and brake performance readout, launch control, selectable drive modes, blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts, remote start and remote window opening, individual tire pressure monitoring and Shaker pro audio.
The new Mustang looks great and definitely talks the talk, but will it walk the walk? We’ll find out when we’re handed the keys.
Transportation for freelance writer Mark Richardson was provided by the manufacturer.
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