Ford has unveiled the first official pictures and details of its sixth-generation muscle car that will become a global car and built in right-hand drive officially for the first time in its near-50-year history. It goes on sale in the US in late 2014 before reaching Australia in late 2015, where it will become the company's local hero car as the Falcon is phased out by late 2016.
Despite a leak earlier this week spoiling any big surprises, Ford has released only four images initially (the odd leaked image has been added) – with a full gallery becoming available at 11.01pm AEST as part of a multi-continent unveiling involving the USA, Spain, China and Australia.
The new Ford Mustang is an evolutionary design – and maintains a 4.8-metre length – and the first area that mixes the new with the old.
A number of styling elements (as well as components) have been carried over from the outgoing model, though there is a bit less emphasis on ‘retro’ as with the 2005 generation and the new Mustang is also influenced by the 2011 Ford Evos concept (also seen in the upcoming Mondeo).
There’s the familiar slanted front end – or ‘Shark nose’ – though there’s no longer a stepped bumper and the grille becomes a more recognisable trapezoidal shape to follow most Ford passenger cars being sold around the world.
The tri-bar tail-lights, used on the first Mustang in 1964, continue as one exterior retro feature but are taken to an even further extreme.
The windscreen and rear glass are more steeply raked as part of a reduced roof height – a deliberate ploy to create more of the classic ‘fastback’ shape for the Mustang coupe. The B-pillars are also blacked out.
At the side, a metal-to-glass ratio is skewed towards body panels with a higher waistline and shallower side window. A prominent flank crease runs from the front to rear quarter panel, though breaks for the wider, beefed-up rear wheelarches.
The Mustang Convertible will employ a folding cloth roof that opens twice as fast as before (reportedly in seven seconds) and is claimed to better isolate the cabin from noise and create a sleeker silhouette when in place.
Three engine options for the new Ford Mustang include a new circa-227kW 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that will be available in Australia as the muscle car’s base engine, along with a traditional V8.
A circa-220kW 3.7-litre V6 not coming to Australia and the circa-313kW 'Coyote' 5.0-litre V8 are still relatively new to the outgoing Mustang and carry over, albeit it with some tweaks.
Gearboxes are a six-speed manual as standard, with a six-speed auto optional and available with paddle shift levers. A 10-speed auto is in development and expected to be fitted to the Mustang in about 2016 as part of a mid-life update.
Read our story on the engines designated for Australia here.
Ford Australia isn't announcing pricing this far out from launch, though the four-cylinder turbo Mustang is expected to be priced from $45,000, with tags stretching past $80,000 for a supercharged version of the 5.0-litre V8 as found in FPV Falcons but yet to be confirmed for the muscle car.
The new Ford Mustang is set to be the best-driving version yet of the famous rear-wheel-drive ‘Pony car’ that has passed nine million sales as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2014.
In addition to a new platform, and a stiffer and lighter body (helping to shed about 100kg), for the first time the rear suspension is fully independent rather than a less sophisticated live axle. (The switch was meant to happen a decade ago but Ford decided to save money by retaining the older technology.)
The new IRS combines with a new strut front suspension that Ford says allows for bigger brakes that will make this the “best-stopping Mustang yet”.
Handling will be aided by a torque vectoring system that will use the electronic stability control system to brake individual rear wheels to help push the Mustang around corners. The 2.3L and 5.0L Mustangs also feature a limited-slip rear differential. The car sits on 19-inch wheels.
No performance figures have been supplied – as is Ford tradition for its models – though the V8 GT will be available with a launch control system for optimum standing-start acceleration.
Leaked information indicates the base Mustang can be upgraded to the flagship GT’s larger brakes with an optional Performance Pack, while for the GT this brings six-pot Brembo calipers.
The Performance Pack is also said to include a Torsen limited-slip differential, a larger radiator and extra cabin gauges.
Ford has aimed to make the new GT Performance Pack quicker around a track than the Boss 302 edition of the outgoing Mustang.
Drivers will also be able to tailor vehicle settings via a toggle switch that can alter steering weight, auto transmission shift points, engine response and the electronic stability control threshold.
A data-recording app, which will be one of a number that can be linked between the driver’s smartphone and the Mustang’s Sync with Applink system, is believed to be standard on the EcoBoost and V8 versions.
Heated/cooled seats enter the fray, and adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning are two active safety features new to the Mustang. A Shaker Pro audio system will also become a new option.
The cabin is pitched as an aircraft-inspired cockpit with Ford claiming the highest level of craftsmanship yet for the muscle car. It will be interesting to see how it compares with other US muscle cars such as the (Commodore-based) Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger that – as with the current Mustang – look great on the outside but disappoint with poor-quality plastics inside.
The Mustang retains the deep steering wheel design with three spokes.
2015 model year Mustangs will feature a special badge on the dash – ‘Mustang – Since 1964’ – to mark the car’s upcoming half-century milestone.
This will be the first time a Ford Mustang has been sold officially in Australia since the late 1960s, though in 2001 and 2002 Tickford Vehicle Engineering converted a number of ‘Pony’ cars to right-hand drive for the local market.