Ford Motor Co. reveals its all-new Mustang to the world by staging events on four continents and six cities around the globe—Dearborn, New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Shanghai and Sydney—simultaneously, the gig bridging huge gaps not only in geography but also time zones (11pm of December 5 in Sydney), if not cultures. But the logistical challenges, as daunting to even think about, are necessary. A newborn Mustang deserves every bit of attention.
Think about it; for a nameplate that debuted and took the car world by storm in 1964, the new Mustang Ford is introducing is only on its sixth generation. Fittingly, it’s the best ever to wear the galloping horse logo.
Sleepless in Sydney
In Sydney, rocking performances, a comedy routine and various entertainment greet the crowd of journalists, Ford executives, some members of the Mustang Owners Club of New South Wales and other guests as the clock tick closer to the appointed hour. So amid much fanfare and merriment—also happening in the five other cities, as can be seen on live feeds—the Mustang emerges from underneath a sheet of cloth and rolls onto the red carpet at Sydney’s locomotive museum. The latest pony car then joins some of its ancestors sitting in the vast hall; an original convertible, a Bullitt fastback replica, a Boss 302, a “Fox-4” platform convertible and a 2008 GT.
The all-new Mustang arrives in Sydney as a stunning convertible—the better to see its cabin—with its surprisingly subdued signature gray paintjob playing off well against the backdrop of gaily lights and red racing-stripe carpet. A coupé version, the one Ford touts photos of, is also available. In either form, the car fuses together numerous styling cues that hallmark the Mustang throughout its five decades of existence—the three-bar tail lamps, fastback shape, muscular hood, shark nose, among others—into a modern, significantly more sophisticated look that has intricate detailing like three-bar LED daytime running lights on the headlamps. Ford correctly points out the new Mustang is “evolved to attract a wider array of customers.”
Craig Metros, Ford’s Australia-based chief designer, points out some of the less-obvious style elements that make the new Mustang so completely fresh-looking and contemporary while at same time ensuring the car remains recognizable as a Mustang—which Ford calls as its “heart and soul.” Though not directly involved with the latest pony car’s development, the designer in Metros sees the new car’s proportions as key to its stance and shape.
“The dash-to-axle ratio has increased and the A-pillar moves backward to make the hood longer. The car’s height also drops about 40 millimeters, the width increases and the overhangs are shorter,” Metros says.
Ford calls the new Mustang a “clean-sheet design” but one in which the “essential character of the brand retains key design elements—including the long sculpted hood and short rear deck—with contemporary execution.”
It’s obvious the car’s cabin follows the lead of the exterior design. The Mustang’s traditional dual cowl dash makes it to the latest car intact. The two-tone reddish brown and dark gray leather on the Sydney convertible looks very modern, as do the silver accents on the instrumentation, console and other panels. The steering wheel hints of retro. Ford says the car’s controls are “all readily accessible in the aviation-inspired cockpit, which is executed with the highest degree of craftsmanship ever found in a Mustang.” The cabin is also roomier and the ergonomics gets an improvement. Oh, and the convertible’s top lowers twice as fast as before while getting sleeker when it’s down.
“It’s designed rather than just styled.” Metros sums up the new Mustang.
Mustang for the world
In its nearly 50 years of existence (the nameplate will mark its half-century in April 2014), more than nine million Mustangs have been sold worldwide, a fact not exactly surprising. A member of the Mustang owners’ club, whose “Bullitt” fastback sits on display mere meters away, says they count around 800 Mustangs in their group alone (over half of which are left-hookers). Remember, these are Mustangs belonging only to club members, and solely in New South Wales.
Ford says that for the first time, the Mustang will reach some parts of Europe and Asia (the car has been in the Philippines, officially or otherwise, since the first-gen model). As such, the car has three power plant options of varied sizes among which a global audience could pick from. The trio starts with the 2.3-liter inline-four EcoBoost engine, moves up to a 3.7-liter V6 and on to the top dog 5.0-liter V8. Two gearboxes, a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic that can now be shifted via steering wheel-mounted paddles, can bolt to the engines.
While the memories of the ’70s-era four-pot Mustang II might haunt the nameplate—good thing Ford had the sense to affix the “II” to the name—the EcoBoost promises to be no source for horrors. As its name suggests, it packs a turbocharger, making it the first production, as opposed to a special variant, Mustang to come with such a type of forced induction system. Ford says the rationale for the inline-four engine is obvious; fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions combined with power.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost, a modern mill with direct injection, twin cam variable valve timing and the twin-scroll turbo, makes 305hp and 407Nm of torque. Ford’s global vice president for powertrain engineering, Bob Fascetti, beams this engine has received proper attention in acoustic matters.
“We’ve played around with pulse rates and exhaust pipes; oh, it has a unique sound,” he assures.
The 3.7-liter V6, for its part, will play the mainstream choice, the everyman’s mill. It’s not the most modern of power plants but a Detroit V6 is hard to fault. This thing makes 295hp and 366Nm. Ford points out the V6 Mustangs may be the “most accessible” of the range but these will still deliver the “performance customers expect.”
Speaking of performance, there will be no doubting that which the V8-propelled Mustang GT will dish out. Displacing 5.0 liters, Ford’s V8 gets upgraded with larger intake and exhaust valves, an intake manifold that can partially close off its ports at lower engine speeds to cut fuel and emissions, as well as smoothen the idle, and straighter intake ports in the cylinder heads so the engine can breathe better—creating gobs more power. With two overhead camshafts, four-valve heads and twin independent variable valve timing, the V8 spins out more than 420hp and 529Nm. To cut weight, both the engine’s cylinder heads and block are hewn from aluminum.
Fascetti says there was a conscious effort to retain the 5.0-liter displacement, Ford seeing how iconic “5.0” has turned out to be—a Mustang-lovers’ magazine goes by the name. More important, the powertrain exec says that even with a lower displacement, the 5.0 holds its own against larger rivals.
“Maybe the 6.7 is too much, but we can compete with the 6.2,” Fascetti says.
Equally revolutionary for a Mustang—or for a Detroit Iron, even—is that the latest pony car now has independent rear suspension, which is the first for a production Mustang apart from special Cobras. Ford says this means the new Mustang “sets new handling benchmarks for the brand, delivering world-class dynamics and ride quality.”
The latest Mustang rides on all-new front and rear suspension systems, where the nose end sits on a perimeter subframe that helps stiffen the structure while reducing mass, which Ford says leads to “more predictable wheel control that benefits handling, steering and ride.” New double ball joint MacPherson struts also allow for larger, more powerful brakes, resulting in what is “expected to be the best stopping Mustang yet.” Three available brake packages are available..
The independent rear suspension, meanwhile, was tuned for high-performance duty, with aluminum rear knuckles that slash unsprung mass for improved ride and handling.
Now throw in the package modern tech features like Ford’s Bluetooth-capable Sync, Intelligent Access with push-button start, MyKey electronic nanny, plus available Track Apps, MyColor gauges, Shaker Pro audio system, advanced driver-assist features including blind spot information with cross-traffic alert, as well as adaptive cruise control, and what’s concocted is indeed the best Mustang ever.
One that deserves no less than a planet-wide debut gig.