Road Test

ROAD TEST: 2015 Ford Mustang V-6 is a pleasant surprise

The sixth-generation Mustang is a much more refined and capable cruiser than its predecessors

2015 Ford Mustang

Much has been said and written about the new, sixth-generation, 2015 Mustang. An all-American icon, the original “pony” car has matured over the past half-century. This latest version – all new to celebrate its 50th anniversary – is both a clear descendant of and a far cry from the original, which created a cult-like following that still exists today.

The latest Mustang is a larger and much more refined vehicle. Like the first one, it is available with a choice of six or eight cylinder engines and manual or automatic transmissions. But that is where the powertrain similarities end.

The cylinders in the standard 2.7-litre six of the original were all in a row and it produced just 101-horsepower (SAE Gross).

The six in the latest Mustang has three per side in a V-formation and it produces three times the power – 300 horsepower (SAE Net). The first Mustang's 4.2-litre V-8 produced just 164 horsepower (SAE Gross), while the 5.0-litre V-8 in the 2015 Mustang belts out more than twice that – 435 horsepower (SAE Net).

Also available for the 2015 model is a 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 310 horsepower.

Old meets new

The design team did a good job of marrying old and new. The look is fresh, contemporary and more aggressive than the outgoing model. But, there are some retro touches mixed in as well.

The shark-like front end harkens back to earlier models while the ultra slim HID headlights would not have been possible then.

There are big, modern 18 or 19-inch wheels filling out the wide fender flares but the long hood, short deck and steeply sloped windshield parallel the proportions of the first Mustang. Definitely new are the sequential tail lights – although they still comprise three segments each – and the big, chromed twin exhaust outlets.

Interior advances

Since that first Mustang, Ford has made remarkable advances in interior design and execution. In fact it has made significant gains since the fifth-generation Mustang was developed.

The 2015 model is laced with quality materials assembled with a degree of precision sadly lacking in previous Mustangs. Shiny hard plastic surfaces and a variety of panel gaps have been replaced by soft touch materials, pebbled grains and genuine aluminum trim with precise and even fits. 

Here again the design team has done great work combining old and new. There is a big “Mustang” in the centre of the steering wheel as in the original, but the wheel itself is thick-rimmed with secondary controls for modern functions like cruise control and the Infotainment system positioned to either side. 

The centre stack is topped by a trio of vents while a modern array of controls for the audio and HVAC system, a start/stop button and a screen for the backup camera and voice-activated Sync system are positioned beneath them.

There are USB ports and you can change the color of the ambient lighting to suit your personal tastes – nothing old school here!

Ford says there is more room in the rear seat thanks to the new independent rear suspension, but it is still pretty scarce, and difficult to get to.

V-6 engine

The new boosted four-cylinder and the potent V-8 are the hot topics for most Mustang enthusiasts so I was disappointed when I learned the test vehicle available for my appraisal was the V-6 model.

I was more than pleasantly surprised. Sure the V-8 with its mellifluous exhaust note and gobs of torque would be my first choice but I didn't expect the “rental car" V-6 to be as impressive as it proved to be.

Perhaps because my expectations were so low, the smoothness and power of the six came as a bit of a shock. But when I stopped to think about one simple fact – it makes 300-horsepower – reality hit. That figure, combined with 280 lb-ft of torque, makes for pretty decent performance in a 1,600-kg car.

Refined and capable

Having gotten over my preconceptions, I was able to look at this latest and least expensive of the new Mustangs in a fresh light. 

The lasting impression is that of a much more refined and capable cruiser. The build quality and solidity are impressive. Whether when you close a door or encounter a nasty road blemish, this Mustang is solid.

On the road

That refinement shows on the road as well, especially if the road is less than perfect. The newly independent rear suspension gives the Mustang a whole new persona. Instead of jumping half a lane when you encounter a nasty bump mid-corner, it absorbs the bump like a modern motor vehicle!

The ancient, but beefy rear axle of the prior model, dating back to the 70s and the “Fox” platform upon which all Mustangs since have been based, was great for drag racing, but little else. Nobody will miss it.

The heavily revised front suspension is mounted to a stiffer sub-frame, bringing more precise steering feedback. The overall result is a modern sporty car with suppleness when needed for ride quality but the firmness necessary for handling

The 2015 Mustang will be sold on all continents, other than Antarctica, including right-hand drive markets in Australia, England and Japan.  Now the rest of the world can sample what made the ’Stang so popular in this continent. 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: 2015 Mustang V-6 coupe

Price: $24,999 base; $30,399 as tested, including freight ($1,600)

Engine: 3.7-litre DOHC V-6, 300 horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Fuel Consumption (city/highway):12.6/8.5  L/100-km)

Length: 4,784 mm

Width: 1,916 mm

Wheelbase: 2,720 mm

Mass: 1,604 kg

Competitors: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis coupe

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