If there is one car out there that is undeniably American, it’s this: the Ford Mustang.
For five generations spanning five decades, the Mustang has enjoyed its existence primarily in the United States, but now Ford is now looking to market this new generation Mustang to a much wider global audience, thanks to the One Ford Plan. We’ll get back to that later.
There are few car designs out there that are unmistakable for anything else, and one of them is Ford’s pony car. The design begins with that long, long bonnet, wide proportions and fastback coupe profile. The example that Ford Philippines sent over to us was a 5.0-liter GT variant and it’s clearly a looker, thanks to that Evos Concept-derived fascia. Personally, I feel that the rear of this GT does seem too plain for a pony car and that color keyed “diffuser” does seem a bit too odd; black or dark gray would do nicely.
Open the door and again, it’s signature Mustang but with a modern and very clean touch. Unlike its predecessor that seemed to have been trying too hard to be retro, this new generation is all its own. There are still the signature touches like the large three-spoke steering wheel, but there are now plenty of buttons on the spokes. The gauge cluster is also very modern (fonts and all) and has some rather neat touches that set it apart like spelling out “revolutions per minute” on the tachometer and “ground speed” on the speedometer. Simple but cool.
As for space, given that this is a pony car has a lot of engine, tech and equipment like SYNC2 connectivity, there’s not a lot left to go around for passengers. Space may not be exactly a priority in sports cars and coupes, but more legroom for the occasional rear passenger could be given attention.
On the road
With the key in my pocket, I press the starter button next to the toggle switches (for the TCS, electric steering settings and drive modes) just forward of the gearstick and right then and there, that guttural V8 rumble begins to permeate into the cabin. Being the GT, this ‘Stang has a heart with five liters of displacement; well, it’s technically 4,949 cc but it’s close enough. And at 435 bhp and 400 lb-ft of torque, it’s got gobs of power sent to the rear wheels by a 6-speed automatic.
Fuel economy around town may be rated by the EPA at 6.8 kilometers per liter, but realistically in metro traffic, that figure is at 4.5 kpl (at 20 kilometers per hour average). The most important number to keep in mind is 4.8 seconds as that’s how long it takes to start getting speeding tickets (0-100 kph) in this country.
Apart from the fun features like multi-mode drive selector (Normal, Sport+, Track and Snow), as well as Track Apps (particularly that drag racing-inspired ‘Christmas tree’ and line lock), the most revolutionary improvement in the 2015 Mustang is the rear suspension. All previous generations of the Mustang have had a solid (live) axle in the back, but this new one has independent rear suspension (IRS). It doesn’t sound like much of an improvement if you’re driving in a straight line but the IRS significantly improves handling, which is why I chose to attack a nearby mountain pass just to see what this new ‘Stang can do.
I drove a 2013 Mustang GT here before and let me tell you, it can get lively and not in a good way. That live axle can (and probably will) make the rear step out if you hit a bump on the road while cornering. Not so with the 2015 Mustang. The suspension ensures a more stable footprint on the road and the rear doesn’t get as nervous as its predecessor does, though do keep in mind that this is a GT, not a Shelby. Braking is good but it definitely could be better, so if they ever offer it with a Brembo brake package, take it. The GT is still heavy by sports car standards so don’t expect it to out-handle and out-brake lightweight sports cars like the ever-popular Toyota 86, but you can pass them on the straights with more than double the horsepower anyway.
And when all the excitement is done, the Mustang settles down to become a sedate drive. The Mustang GT stays true to the Grand Touring monicker with a very pliant ride, one that absorbs the rough concrete, potholes and speed bumps common in the metro. Try that with any other car with serious performance and prepare to make more frequent visits to the chiropractor.
Yes, Ford has gone a very new route with the 2015 Mustang GT with its high-tech, modern rear suspension and other bits, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the old-school all-American pony car we’ve always known and loved it to be.