2015 Mustang GT Premium review: Get grip, get action

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium

When we reviewed the 2015 Ford Mustang powered by the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four, we were impressed. But we said, and this is a direct quote, “It’s not, of course, the 5.0-liter V-8…”

Well, duh. It’s not a 2015 Ford Mustang GT. Now there’s a surprise.

But they’re certainly both high performance Mustangs with, in their own ways, high performance engines. Both high performance, but one little and one big.

The big performance is remarkably big. It’s not big in the way of, say, a Dodge Hellcat, but at 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque…it’s effing big in a way that a few years ago was almost off the chart. It’s a statement about the state of the art, and spoken very large.

2015 Ford Mustang GT 5.0-liter V-8

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT has a stubby manual shifter; the gauges on the dash are part of the Performance Package. (click to enlarge)

And there’s nothing like the rush of all those horses in the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. Well, assuming you can get that rush. And you can’t with summer tires and 45 degree temperatures, even on dry pavement. It doesn’t take much touch on the throttle to set the P-Zeros clawing futilely on the pavement. Snow/wet drive mode doesn’t help. The tread might as well be wood.

And that’s how we spent our week with the 2015 Mustang GT, hoping for a heatwave.

Don’t get us wrong. We enjoyed the throaty rumble of the five-liters of Ford’s Coyote V-8. It has new cylinder heads for 2015 with better breathing via bigger intake and exhaust valves, the same size as those in last year’s Boss 302, and the intake tracts are straighter for increased flow at high rpm. Both intake and exhaust camshafts are new, with higher lift for greater flow, and valve springs are new too, for obvious reasons. The engine, with its 7000 rpm capability, gets new forged connecting rods to keep things together at that speed.

Added for 2015, however, are “charge motion control valves.” These are flaps in the intake manifolding that partially close the intake port to maintain velocity through the port, adding tumble and swirl to the intake charge for better fuel mixing, improving fuel economy and idle smoothness while reducing emissions. Your name can’t be Max Revs all the time, you know. Especially, you know, if you’re on wooden tires.

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT engine produces 435 horsepower.

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT engine produces 435 horsepower. (click to enlarge)

So we couldn’t accelerate very quickly. We didn’t experiment with going around corners either, thanks to the same lack of traction and an unwillingness to put the Mustang into the bushes. The suspension nonetheless is all new, and if we couldn’t explore handling limits we could at least appreciate a smoother ride. Ford finally broke down (no, wrong phrase, try relented) relented and gave up on the solid rear axle for the Mustang. Instead, for 2015 comes fully-independent suspension.

With the new rear suspension, however, the Mustang also needed changes to the front, and that’s what it got with new double-ball-joint setup, with all new geometry. The chassis gets more high-strength steel, but additional stiffness needed for the front end meant a full front subframe in place of the simple crossbeam in its predecessor.

The goal for the suspension changes, among other things, was to decrease dive and squat on braking and acceleration. We couldn’t tell you. Tires again.

What we did notice was a suppleness of the 2015 Mustangs suspension. The old live-axle arrangement had the inevitable live-axle hop and the rear wheels had to form a committee to decide what to do about every bump, and then often as not come up with, if not the wrong decision, a compromise that didn’t please anyone. With the new arrangement, each wheel gets to its own thing and everyone is happier, especially the driver.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium interior

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium has a three-spoke steering wheel with a galloping mustang on the hub. (click to enlarge)

Despite early speculation that the 2015 Mustang would be narrower—it was going global and the Europeans have narrow streets, doncha know—Ford engineers actually widened the rear track by almost three inches, the body not so much. The wider track was for handling while the designers wanted to shrink wrap the body around he mechanicals.

Up front the “shelf” of the front bumper was eliminated in favor of a large hexagonal grille—much of it and other front “scoops,” if you look closely, blocked off for aerodynamics—with a flush bumper bisecting it. The front end continues the three vertical lightbars on either side of the grille, matched by the three vertical taillights on each side as demanded by Mustang enthusiasts. The sequential turn signals—originally back in the long ago a Mercury Cougar thing—return, though they won’t be going global.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium (click to enlarge)

The 2015 Mustang’s hood contour curves downward more than its predecessor’s, all the better for aerodynamics, while the hood of the Mustang GT gains function vents to reduce air pressure under the hood. The passenger compartment starting with the A-pillar is moved further back, though that’s not particularly noticeable as a difference from its predecessor.

[], [], [], []