The Ford Mustang has never been more significant for Australians since the Blue Oval’s muscle car debuted 50 years ago.
Not only will the new, sixth-generation version be officially built in right-hand drive as it transforms into a global model, but when the Falcon disappears from 2017 the Mustang will be the only V8-powered Ford you’ll be able to buy locally.
Ford Australia tinkered with local sales of the Mustang back in the early 2000s, when RHD conversions were done by performance arm Tickford. This time the company will be serious about generating more sales for what will be its local hero car.
Here’s CarAdvice’s quick guide to all you need to know about the new ‘Stang.
I’ve heard a lot of fuss about IRS for the new Mustang…
Yep, independent rear suspension is one of the biggest changes for Ford’s new Pony car. Apart from some Cobra models for the fourth-generation version, the Mustang has featured a solid rear axle. Great for straightline acceleration; not so much for handling. IRS should change that.
So Ford would have involved Australian engineers considering their know-how of making good-handling rear-wheel-drive cars?
Strangely, no. Ford in the US opted against help from Australia, or even Europe, believing it had sufficient expertise. The rival Chevrolet Camaro – which has outsold the Mustang since 2010 in the US – couldn’t be more Australian: its underpinnings are based on the VE Commodore platform and Holden was heavily involved in its development.
Did Ford at least benchmark the Camaro?
Apparently not, because the company believed the Mustang was already going to be superior in their view. So instead they sampled the likes of the Porsche 911 and BMW M3.
Will the V8 engine compensate for the loss of our XR8 and GT Falcons?
Ford’s EcoBoost engines are supposed to go in all models; Mustang no exception?
Certainly not. A 2.3-litre four-cylinder with turbocharging and direct injection – the hallmarks of EcoBoost engines – will power the entry-level ‘Stang here (and also be used for the upcoming Focus RS hot-hatch). There’s 231kW at 5500rpm, though for drivability we very much like the look of 433Nm max torque available between 2500 and 4500rpm. (For the anoraks out there, this isn’t the first turbo four to go under a Mustang bonnet – that honour goes to the SVO version of 1985.)
Mated to a Ford ‘Powershift’ dual-clutch gearbox?
Ford doesn’t seem to be in a rush to completely modernise the Mustang, though its chief engineer argues a dual-clutch wouldn’t have been robust enough for the GT’s torque V8. So instead a six-speed auto and six-speed manual are retained from the old model, with revisions. The auto features paddleshift levers, and in the V8 comes with launch control.
What if I want even more performance?
Be patient and keep saving. A GT350 with more power is reportedly coming up and Boss and Shelby editions down the track are inevitable. A supercharged or twin-turbo V8 are both doing the rounds on the rumour treadmill, but Ford engineers are hinting that the belt-driven approach to boosting will be adopted. CarAdvice spies have already captured a SVT version testing at the Nurburgring.
Has the Mustang been brought up to speed on tech, though?
Driver aids include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and collision warning. A MyFord Touch system provides information and entertainment. Ford Australia has yet to confirm how local Mustangs will be broken down in terms of standard and optional features, though expect both the EcoBoost and GT models to be highly equipped.
Has Ford done anything else to make Mustang cater for a broader audience?
‘Team Mustang’ – as the huge, 500-odd group of executives, designers and engineers involved in the car were known – also focused on elevating the quality of the sports car’s interior. They modernised the exterior design with some cues from global Fords such as the new Mondeo/Fusion, though they didn’t want the car to look like anything but a Mustang. And we reckon it definitely won’t look out of place on Route 66.
Has the Mustang grown larger like most cars these days?
Not significantly, and the wheelbase is identical to before, but there are lots of detailed measurement changes all over. The roof is 38mm lower, the bonnet drops 32mm closer to the ground, the A-pillar has moved back 30mm (extending the bonnet length), and the bootlid is not only shorter but is also 30mm lower. And notice those muscular rear haunches? The rear sheetmetal has widened 40mm to accommodate a 70mm stretch to the rear axle (the front track widens by about 15mm).
And open-air Mustang motoring will continue to be available…? The Fastback shape is the most famous but the convertible is far too popular to drop. And speaking of dropping, the new Mustang gets an electrically operated fabric roof featuring a single latch. The convertible also gets its own unique rear end and bootlid section.
Mustang conversions in Oz have cost anywhere from $85,000 upwards. Please tell me an official right-hand-drive factory version will be more affordable.
Happy to oblige. Ford dealers are starting to tell potential customers the car will cost between $50,000 and $70,000 when it arrives here in the second half of 2015. There’s a chance the base EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo model could sneak under the $50K mark. Ford Australia says it’s already had more than 13,000 enquiries about the Mustang.
Haven’t you forgotten to mention something?
Ah, yes. Handling may have been a key focus of the new Mustang but Ford hasn’t neglected the Pony car fanatics who like to smoke the rears. There’s a new burnout function called Electronic Line Lock. When engaged, the system uses the car’s electronic stability control system to hold the front brakes but release the rear brakes – allowing the driver to then light up those rear tyres using the throttle pedal only.
Read our first drive review of the 2015 Ford Mustang here.