I am not a jaded automotive journalist. At least not yet. We don’t test supercars at RFD, we drive attainable–ideally interesting–cars that you might drive one day. Then, we you tell you what we think about them and if you should spend your hard earned money to purchase something similar. September marked Mustang month at RFD, and we had the chance to take the new EcoBoost-equipped Mustang rallying, and even compared it to a potential rival. So when Ford dropped off a new GT Premium in my driveway, it was clear that we needed to do something special. Take a look at the video below, it’s not a traditional video review. There are dozens (hundreds?) of those featuring the new Mustang on the internet, we wanted to do something more simple. More pure. We just went for a drive.
Washington DC is sometimes cited as “the most powerful city in the world”. Whether that is still true in 2015 is up for debate. You might cite New York City, Beijing, or maybe Vatican City as having more influence on the world. But like it or not, it’s a hell of a city and its where RFD got its start. So with presidential election fever in full swing around here, we wanted to capture the magic of DC after hours. It’s brightly lit but still managed to be ominous. Perfect for a video shoot. Big stone buildings loom large you as you drive. It’s known as a quite formal city, so naturally, I wore a damn suit.
OK, so I’ll toss in a bit of a review in case you’re asking what I thought of the Mustang. First a warning: I’m kind of a Mustang guy. I’m not sure if this prepares me more than the average journalist to evaluate this particular car, or if it produces some sort of bias. I like to think that my previous ownership, which consists of every generation since the Fox body (see for yourself on WheelWell), gives me the advantage of knowing where Ford was 22 years ago when I got my first Mustang, a 1993 LX. While the 4th generation Mustang, known to car buffs as the SN95, initially felt like a huge step forward after the boxy Fox body, history shows that dramatic styling aside, it wasn’t really that much better. Many lamented the loss of the 302 Windsor engine and the simple, light 3rd-generation. And the 2V SOHC was crap. But 10 years ago or so, Ford gave us something new. The 5th generation Mustang felt like a modern muscle car, in both styling and performance. By the end of its run, the 5.0 was back, packing 420hp, a 6spd, and a bunch of cool special editions like the track-ready Boss 302. It was a hell of a car, I owned a 2011 California Special, still remains one of the best cars I’ve owned. So does the new car continue the evolution of the Mustang?
No. It’s so much better, it can’t be considered evolutionary. Revolutionary is a strong word, and likely not quite appropriate in this instance, but that’s just semantics. The 2015 Mustang managed to improve the breed, pure and simple.
The outgoing Mustang was a handsome car. However, in my opinion, it relied a bit too much on being “retro” vs. being “progressive”, and the new car manages to be immediately recognizable as a Mustang, but actually looks modern. Josh and I agreed that the belt line, which rises slightly at the front wheels, should slope down a bit more towards the front of the car. But Ford was likely managing the upward slope and height of the hood that is required to
mow down pedestrians meet pedestrian safety requirements. The car also manages to appear both lower and wider. I guess that’s because it is. Overall height is down almost a full inch from 55.6 in to 54.4 in. Width is up from 73.9 in to 75.4 in. Overall length is a fraction of an inch longer, and the wheelbase is identical to the outgoing car at 107.1 in. As usual, we evaluate how well it hauls people, how well it hauls stuff, and how well it hauls ass.
As my colleague Justin found while rallying his 2015, it doesn’t feel that big. The hood is large, and the pointy bits on either side are usually in view, as were the vents on this GT. On one hand, it lets you know generally where the front end is, useful in parking garages and autocross courses. At one point, on an incline into one of those aforementioned garages in DC, all I saw was the gunmetal grey hood. I figured the V8 burble would warn pedestrians that I was coming. And come you will, with the quickness. The 5.0 Coyote engine is up a bit in power over 2014 at 435 hp and 400 ft. lbs of torque for the 2015 GT. And it’s more than adequate, which is probably the best I can describe it. Rarely was I in traffic with another car that I thought “he could take me”. Straight line speed is incredibly urgent, I felt myself pinned into the leather Recaros (more on those below) more than once with a wide eyed gaze as the speedo raced ahead. Take a quick tug on the (rather fantastic) gearshift, pull it down into 4th gear from 6th on the highway, put your right foot down, and 60 mph will nearly double itself in seconds. It’s fast. Choose from normal, sport +, track, and rain/snow to optimally set up the car for the type of driving you’ll be doing. The “track apps” were neat as well, reminiscent of a GT-R, but were limited to the small screen between the speedo and the tach. It would be cool if you could mirror them over onto the large touchscreen, but if you are doing the “track only” stuff the apps assist with, I suppose you should be looking directly forward. I didn’t get a lot of time to try out the various apps, I generally left the accelerometer on to keep an eye on my G forces.
Speaking of Gs, the big news for the 2015 was obviously the new independent rear suspension. This is where my Mustang experiences come into play. Contrary to popular opinion, the previous car was not a poor handling car. I suppose, if compared to something smaller and more nimble, or something much more expensive, you could make that claim. I was a rabid autocrosser many years ago, and campaigned a grey 2003 GT Premium to an overall season points victory in Street Touring X for the 2004 season. That meant I was up against modified autocross heroes like the Mini Cooper S, that my main rival drove. With a set of H&R springs, Koni adjustables, and some fairly basic Kumho tires, I bested them all and won the season trophy. Some of you are already citing “stock vs. modded” and sure, that is true. But it was the most basic of mods, a $500 investment made the live-rear suspension in the Mustang workable. So while I am a fan of the new IRS, I feel like it was partially done to silence the critics more than anything. Having owned a modern Mustang with the live rear, I used to have this Motortrend test bookmarked to back me up in forum wars. Mustang GT vs BMW M3, $30,000 separating them on the window sticker (well, ~$27K as tested but close enough) and 0.09 seconds separating them on track at Streets of Willow. My point being, the Mustang could already handle. Now it just handles better.
The first question most people ask me after they find out I spend a week commuting through DC in a Mustang is “how is it as a daily driver”? The short answer, pretty solid. The suspension is firm, but no worse than the Focus ST I daily drove for awhile. Actually, some of the “oh shit” bumps along my route were absorbed incredibly well by the mustang’s suspension. I still eased her over speed bumps and avoided potholes, lest the optional $1295 20″ wheels end up could have become 19.85″ wheels. Overall, it’s an incredibly comfortable space inside, one of the greatest advancements being the surface/touch materials. The handsome aluminum colored binnacle over the center stack, the silver toggle switches at the bottom of the dash to active the hazard lights, traction control, steering wheel mode, driving mode, etc. were all well done. I could have done without the chrome trim around the base of the shifter, but that’s an easy fix.
On to the big topic, the seats. “Leather Recaros” you are saying,”they must be awesome right?” The short answer is “of course”. The longer answer depends on two factors, your age and your commute. If you don’t mind climbing over the sizable side bolster and wedging yourself into the great looking seats, and then spending up to an hour at a time in stop and go traffic in said seats, you’re good. I’m not sure I could do it. As Justin noted in the EcoBoost he tested, the standard leather seats would probably do the trick. Tough to say as a Recaro lover (even my 19 month old has one) but I’ll take more adjust-ability and heating/cooling options over hip hugging bolsters.
How is the back seat? It’s there, and fairly useful. This is usually where the reviewer will say “the back seat is more suited for children” which is what I did. The aforementioned Recaro baby seat fit. Just. His chunky toddler legs dangled in between the rear seat and the front seat, provided you adjusted it forward a bit. Same went for my 11 and 8 year olds, whose legs fit behind my driving position. Again, just. Fancy putting an adult back there? Depends on how much you like them. That annoying coworker who tags along at lunch? Invite them along!
It’s a 2-door coupe, I didn’t really haul anything other than camera gear. The Ford did an admirable job of swallowing up tripods, GoPros, camera bags, etc. and the trunk is usable for most day-to-day tasks.
Trim: GT Premium
Trans: 6-Speed Manual (MT82)
Engine: 435 hp 32-valve DOHC Ti-VCT 5.0 L
Drive: Rear Wheel Drive
Exterior: Magnetic Metallic
Interior: Redline Leather
Destination Fee: $825
Packages & Options
401A Equipment Group $1795
- Shaker™ Pro Audio System with twelve speakers
- HD Radio™
- Memory driver seat and mirrors
- BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert
Reverse Park Assist $295
Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Mitigation and Rain-Sensing Wipers $1,195
Premier Trim with Color Accent Group $395
RECARO® Leather Sport Seats $1,595
20″ Foundry Black Aluminum Wheels $1,295
Voice-Activated Navigation System $795
Total MSRP: $44,685
Images Courtesy: Ford