Henry Payne: In the saddle of the transformed, new Mustang
Los Angeles — The new Mustang’s beauty isn’t just skin deep.
Since the much-ballyhooed international announcement of a re-made, stunning 2015 pony car last winter, Ford has promised that the car’s transformed, sports car-like exterior was also a harbinger for a sportier chassis. An automotive icon, the Mustang is also an anachronism. The solid rear suspension of the previous generation had long ago gone the way of the dinosaurs, and Ford badly needed to upgrade the car to keep up with its better-selling Camaro competition — not to mention other sports sedans.
With a fully-independent rear suspension, modified McPherson double-jointed front suspension, and a widened chassis, the new ’Stang is a revelation. Mustangs were once cars you drove patiently through corners so that you could have fun on the straights. Now you’ll want to nail the throttle to get to the twisties sooner. This beast corners like a champ.
I drove a Mustang V-8 (its base price virtually unchanged from the outgoing, 2014 model at $32,925) hard Wednesday over California’s challenging Route 2 and the Mustang was a joy. Hooking up with a quick Porsche 911, I shadowed his every move, diving into corners, rotating through apexes, jumping on the throttle early. Don’t let me mislead you — the Mustang is no Porsche or BMW 3-series — but it is much more planted than its predecessor and better than a Dodge Challenger or Camaro.
The European handling is echoed by the car’s styling. While the Mustang retains its menacing, upright grille and large haunches, the sleek front end has taken on a European feel. The headlight cowl is gone and Mercedes-like gills have popped up on the corners.
As Ford expands its sights overseas, the more international look should appeal to Chinese and Europeans alike. Inside, the Mustang sports soft materials and superb, heavily bolstered seats (so you don’t fall out under those newfound cornering Gs). The dash has been completely redone with an “airplane feel,” but retains its muscular look.
Interior space is uncompromised thanks to the wider chassis. The best part? A more athletic stance in the rear end as the greenhouse narrows over the muscly fenders. Get used to the sight, muscle boys — you’ll be seeing a lot of Mustangs pulling away from you.
2015 Ford Mustang
Vehicle type:Fastback and convertible
Fuel economy:19 city/28 highway/22 mpg combined
Final assembly:Flat Rock