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2015 Ford Mustang first look

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2015 Ford Mustang

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After months of online speculation that the 2015 Ford Mustang would be smaller, lighter and more tightly packed, none of those prognostications were even close. Though it's built on a new platform, the 2015 Mustang follows many of the guidelines that made its predecessors so successful. With 9 million units sold over a 50-year period, you don't mess with that kind of track record.

The new Mustang's major dimensions are similar to those of the outgoing car. Its wheelbase, front track and overall length are essentially unchanged, while the new car sits 1.4 inches lower and 1.5 inches wider. Compared to the current GT, front track increases by about an inch and the rear track increases nearly 3 inches. Dramatically downsizing the car would have been popular with driving enthusiasts but a deal killer with casual buyers who like its useful backseat and everyday functionality.

After years of tweaking Mustang’s live axle rear suspension is gone. As capable as it had become, there was simply no getting around the physics of its excessive unsprung weight and the associated impact on ride quality. The new rear suspension was developed specifically for the Mustang and is unrelated to any existing Ford product.

The MacPherson strut front suspension geometry is similar to that of the outgoing car, but dual ball joints have been added to further enhance steering precision.

Three engines will be offered. The base engine will be the 3.7-liter V6 from the current Mustang, with projections of 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The slightly modified 5.0-liter V8 has new cams with 1mm more intake lift and 2mm more lift on the exhaust side, new heads with slightly larger valves and a revised intake manifold with tumble control valves. It also receives the connecting rods and valve springs from the current Boss 302 engine. These changes bring its output above the 420 hp and 390 lb-ft of the current V8. You can expect an increase up 20 hp and 10 lb-ft of torque.

Fitting in between the V6 and the V8 is a major development for Mustang: a turbocharged, direct-injected EcoBoost 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The big news is V6-eclipsing power and "significantly better" efficiency.

Officially the EcoBoost 2.3 will develop more than 305 hp at 5,500 rpm and in excess of 300 lb-ft of torque between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm on 87 octane fuel. Unofficial sources say peak output will be around 330 hp. It's an “undersquare” layout (3.5-inch bore and 3.7-inch stroke) with 9.5:1 compression ratio and a twin-scroll Garrett turbo that bolts directly to the head, without the traditional exhaust manifold.

The new car's weight distribution should be slightly less nose-heavy, especially with the lighter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine up front. All three engines will be available with a new Getrag six-speed manual gearbox or a paddle-shiftable six-speed automatic complete with rev-matched downshifts. The manual box's new internals are said to provide smoother shifts, while the automatic has less parasitic loss and the ability to handle more torque than the outgoing one.

Rather than getting too clever with such an iconic brand, the styling is evolutionary. Inspiration was drawn heavily from the '69 Mustang. Styling elements considered "inviolable" by the design team included the tri-bar taillights that will still blink-in-succession, the fastback shape and a pronounced sharklike nose.

The steering wheel is a smaller-diameter, the shifter has been moved closer to the driver, the cupholders have been moved out of the way and the side mirrors no longer attach at the window corner, improving visibility. Keyless entry is standard and adaptive cruise will be available, and more aggressive Recaro seats are a stand-alone option.

On paper, the head- and legroom are reduced a bit up front, but the wider cabin gives front and rear passengers a bit more shoulder room and the cargo area comes with a 2-inch reduction in liftover height.

The 2015 Mustang convertible looks more elegant than ever. The beltline is clean, and the softened rear haunches blend nicely with the deck lid. Its fabric top has a single center latch and is stowed by the electric motor in 7 seconds, half the time of the old car.

Expect pricing early in 2014.

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