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October 2020 Newsletter

2015 Ford Mustang GT

First, we wanted to make sure we’re coming from the right mindset. Our friends at Galpin Ford loaned us two new 2014 Mustangs, one V6 and one V8, both with manual transmissions. We drove the V8 first, on the standard 235/50ZR18 Pirellis. Up our favorite canyon road, it was alarming: numb, vague steering, frighteningly inadequate brakes for tight curves, the only consistent suspension handling trait being when it bucked and skittered over any bump. We really liked the throttle response and engine – it pulls and pulls – and the manual transmission. It also sounds good. Everything else was, putting it kindly, disappointing. Yet an informal survey among Autoblog colleagues saw all of them rate the Mustang above the competition, comparing like-for-like. And you, dear readers, did too.

We drove the 2014 V6 next. Up the same mountain road, its cornering performance was vastly improved compared to the V8, the difference being 255/40 rubber on 19-inch tires. It still jumped around over imperfections and its brakes didn’t like their assignment at all, but it was much grippier through turns. The noise definitely sounded like a base model being wound out, but the other 98-percent of the time, the exhaust note was fine.

In both cars, though, the decade-old chassis and ancient suspension could not help but show their age and aversion to such tasks. The Track Pack (retuned suspension and stability control, bigger rubber and much better brakes) would undoubtedly have produced a sweeter flavor. Still, for this author, the heart only starts to beat for the Mustang when getting to trims like the Boss 302, Shelby GT500, a Roush Stage 3 or the Super Snake.

The 2015 has cured our blind spot for the lower versions – well, except for the V6, which might want to find a support group for abandoned models, because Ford cares so little for it. The new entry-level trim gets less horsepower and worse gas mileage than before, and hardly any options – no Premium or Performance Package, no leather or Recaro seats, no TrackApps and no wheels above 18 inches. The Blue Oval wants you to think EcoBoost when you walk in the dealer’s door – the V6 is a price leader destined for rental fleets.

Which makes sense, because the EcoBoost is basically the old V6 model, but hugely improved. We started in a Premium car with the six-speed automatic, and through LA morning traffic on the way to Angeles Crest, the inline-four felt just like the six-cylinder – unsurprising since the new motor has virtually the same numbers as the now-discontinued sixer, and Ford’s EcoBoost game is strong.

Designed and tuned for Mustang duty, throttle response and power delivery with the EcoBoost are consistent, and with 320 pound-feet of torque available from 2,500 rpm, it pulls without fuss. The 2.3-liter goes so far as to sound like the 3.7-liter; the turbo whine that our own Michael Harley noted was missing wasn’t a pre-production quirk. In 90 minutes of driving, the twin-scroll compressor didn’t whine once. When you start to push it, it descends into a slight bellow of effort but, just like the six-cylinder, get on it really hard and it starts to thrash.

We left almost all previous notions of the Mustang in the first few turns of Angeles Crest. Our car rode on 18-inch wheels, the same offending size as on the 2014 V8 we drove a few days earlier, but that was the only thing they had in common. Compared to the 2014, the steering of the 2015 Mustang is so talkative it could be labeled loquacious, but there’s more than the steering linkage at work.

The smaller-diameter wheel gets the hands into a nicer position. Switch the three-mode steering into Sport for the greatest resistance (Comfort is way light; Normal is fine, anonymous), and while there isn’t much for weighting as you apply lock, it’s suitably firm at that point and more direct. The front suspension, able to do so much more with the leading wheels, keeps them pushed to the ground and working to go where they’re pointed. The result is that you can feel a bond between the steering wheel and tires and you get the assurance of repeatable causation – when you turn the steering wheel you know where the front wheels are going to go, and you get more information about how they’re doing and how close they are to the edge of adhesion.

The SelectShift transmission and its conventional torque converter has been improved with a redesigned case with cast-in ribs, revised clutches and less friction. It has reflexes about two beats too slow for hard cornering with the shifter in Sport, but that gets better if you change the drive mode to Sport+ or Track. The paddle shifters are the best route, however. Flick down to set the car up, and the Mustang maintains its composure through very quick, rev-matched downshifts.

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Source: AutoBlog.com


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