Review: 2015 Ford Mustang GT

Fifty-years on, the Mustang is still king of the pony cars.

The reason why there are Pony Cars in the first place is because of the Ford Mustang. The Blue Oval is celebrating 50-years of American muscle with the 2015 Ford Mustang GT 5.0. You were probably expecting a special edition, heavily-equipped collectors car of the same ole, same ole.

You would be partially right, and partially wrong.

Totally new from the ground up, the 2015 Mustang decides it's time to be out with the old and in with the new. As for us, we like being in the "in-crowd.” Read on for more.

What is it?A two-door fastback sport coupe, our Mustang GT is a four-passenger hot rod powered by a revised version of the 5.0-liter V8 engine. Now including larger intake and exhaust valves, revised camshafts, new cylinder head castings, redesigned pistons, new forged connecting rods and a rebalanced and forged crankshaft, it is good for 435-horsepower at 6,500 rpm, and 400 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. It is fed by a sequential multiport fuel injection system. It is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with a limited slip differential as standard, and is electronically limited to 155 mph.

In addition to the V8, the Mustang is also offered with a base 3.7-liter V6 engine and a new and quite potent 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that produces 310-horsepower. All engine choices are mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission, with an available six-speed automatic with paddle shift levers also on tap.

The Mustang's suspension is all-new as well, and features a new subframe that holds all the crucial parts together. That includes the MacPherson strut kit in front, which has been revised and now accommodates even larger diameter brake rotors. The rear features, for the first time in fifty years, an integral Multilink independent suspension kit that throws in the face of everything that has come before it. (We capitalized multilink for a reason.)

Ford (finally) made the right decision. Can we get an Amen?

Drive mode selector switches now reside at the base of the center console and allow the configuration of the drive system so that the engine, suspension, steering and other functions can be remapped for the ultimate in performance. Additionally, there is a track app system of timers (zero to 60, 1/8- and ¼-mile) as well as meters measuring lateral acceleration and braking distances.

Further up the console, are the latest examples of Ford's Sync Voice Activation system and MyFord Touch controls, which work through the eight-inch touchscreen to operate audio, navigation, telephone and climate settings.

Available in numerous versions depending on engine size and whether you like your driving al fresco or not, our V8-equipped Pony comes in a buyer's choice of base GT, GT Premium and GT 50 Years Limited Edition.

Unlike previous versions, the 2015 model utilizes an entirely new platform and is considered by Ford to be a world car exported to other regions, despite the fact they will all come from their Flat Rock, Michigan plant.

What's it up against?Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you know that Pony Car Wars are back with a vengeance. Today's starting lineup includes the Chevrolet Camaro, and the Dodge Challenger. They can be configured in nearly as many varieties as the ‘Stang, from base six cylinder power all the way up to monster V8s. But neither offers the 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine that Ford does.

How's it look?Really? It looks as iconic as the original. Borrowing design cues from the ‘65, ‘67, and ‘69 Mustang fastbacks, this new pony pays homage to the original in a thoroughly modern way.

Starting from the front, the 2015 ‘Stang features a "shark bite” trapezoidally-shaped grill, and rather snarly headlamps, which frame the chromed Mustang that is nestled in the mesh grill area. Our 5.0-powered example includes hood vents that help to release trapped air and provide additional cooling to the engine that is huffing underneath.

Although it utilizes the same wheelbase at 107.1-inches as the previous model, it now includes a hood, a trunk, and a roofline that rides considerably lower. In fact, from a profile view, it appears as though this 2015 Mustang has undergone a chop-top operation at the local speed shop. They still have speed shops, don't they?

The good looks continue all the way to the rear fascia, which is blacked out and now features canted sequential turn signals and brake lights.

And the inside?The interior of the 2015 model is reminiscent of early Mustangs with T-styled dashboards, and now, a tilt and telescoping wheel. The reason for the T-style dash is to make it easier to configure for right-hand drive markets where this new Mustang will soon be on sale.

Nicely bolstered black leather seats offered heating and cooling with power fore and aft adjustments. The seats interfaced well with the leather-wrapped tilt wheel, which allowed for adjustments that could accommodate any number of driver sizes. But still, it seemed a bit button-ladened for our tastes.

Ford's Sync system with voice recognition returns along with MyFord Touch. Still operating via its four quadrant layout, it was easy enough, but not totally intuitive due to a certain lack of redundant buttons. It's a minor issue for sure, but a bit disconcerting to look on the screen for an audio tuning button, only to find it on the actual center console mounted buttons with the icon of a musical note, instead.

The trunk of the GT offered 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space, or more, if the rear seats are folded forward.

Does it go?From the push of a button, it was so evident to us that the Ford Mustang 5.0 GT clearly has a new lease on life. The 5.0-liter V8 engine (approximately 305 cubic inches) roared a luxurious growl, and actually made the Shaker audio system sound woefully inadequate. Bottom line: we can't remember a time when a Mustang actually got us excited.

Until now.

Power from the 435 ponies under hood came on in a linear fashion, and when combined with the snicky six-speed manual transmission, gave us a feeling of being totally in command of the operation. Blinding fast acceleration kicked our heads back into the adjustable headrests, and even banged us around a-bit in the cabin that features more soft touch material then we can ever recall in a Mustang. Gone are the hard plastic door panels from as recently as 2014.

We saw a 0-60 time of 4.7-seconds and fuel economy of 15 city/25 highway, with 20.3 mpg combined from the 3705-pounder.

Steering was ultra quick via the electric power assisted rack and pinion set, and had us whipping wheel around some pretty challenging curves without missing a beat. A result of the new independent rear suspension kit that makes its first appearance here, we actually wished that Ford ignored the purists and naysayers and brought the independent rear suspension to market long ago.

We love the adjustability offered, which include Drive modes ranging from Street to Track to Snow and Ice parameters that enable you to configure the car according to your particular drive situations. Our choice of sport steering and sport drive mode made rev-matching only a flick of a switch away. But it was actually the switches themselves that had us a bit perplexed. Made of highly polished aluminum, they were actually too bright to get a quick read as to what they would accomplish when flicked. Don't get us wrong, they do the job and all, and it's a minor issue, but we think their bright appearance is a case of trying too hard.

Leftlane's bottom lineFifty years later, through the original, the Mustang II, the almost-Mustang Probe, the Fox bodies and so on, Ford produces the best Mustang ever. And in Triple Yellow Tricoat, no less. Color us impressed.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Base Price: $36,100. As tested, $43,490.Options: Group package 401A-Shaker 12-speaker Pro Audio System, $1,795; Triple Yellow Tricoat, $495; Enhanced Security Package, $395; Adaptive Cruise Control, $1,195; Voice activated Navigation, $795; Reverse Park Assist, $295; 50th Anniversary Package: includes 19-inch wheels and tires, 50th Anniversary floor mats, and seat trim, $1,595, Destination fee, $825.

Photos by Mark Elias.

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