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Finally, The Thoroughbred Charger: 2015 Ford Mustang Hits Dealers

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/13/2014 Scott Burgess

When the original review of the 1964½ Mustang was printed in Motor Trend, editors noted, "When Ford finally offers disc brakes and their independent rear suspension, it should really have a thoroughbred charger."

Disc brakes were easy. That pesky independent rear suspension, however, took nine CEOs and 50 years to come to fruition.

The 2015 Ford Mustang, which we've been reading about for more than a year, finally started rolling into dealerships in September. It arrived in a variety of flavors in hopes at least one will excite the world's taste buds. That's right, this Mustang is going global.

For North Americans on a budget, there's the V-6 base model with a starting price tag just a tick over $24,000. There's also a turbocharged 2.3L model starting at $25,995, and the beefy 5.0L V-8 starts at $36,925 but can easily climb into the mid-$40,000s with a few boxes checked off on the order sheet.

All come with an independent rear suspension (and disc brakes) and, as Ford likes to point out, all three models engines have at least 300 horsepower.

© Provided by MotorTrend Going into the drive program around Los Angeles, I was most excited about getting behind the wheel of the 2.3L direct-injection turbocharged I-4 Mustang. The engine creates 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, out-muscling the Ford's 3.7L V-6 by 10 ponies and 50 lb-ft of torque. It's nearly 200 pounds lighter than the V-8 GT and promises a better balance with 47/53 percent front-to-rear weight ratio.

This is the first Mustang to ever have an EcoBoost engine. EcoBoost is one of the greatest automotive marketing coups in modern history, pairing the green "eco" name with a direct-injection, turbocharged engine that creates incredible power. God bless all of those hemp-wearing, unshaven people who have demanded more accountability from carmakers. You helped create EcoBoost. Thank you.

Other than the engine's slightly whiny sound, the 2.3L EcoBoost Mustang does provide a nicely balanced ride. My test steed included Ford's six-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters to gain a few extra lb-ft of torque. It's quick, it's nimble, and it was a lot of fun on the freeway.

On the twisty canyon roads near Malibu, the Mustang feels more at home. There are three driving modes that will tighten up the steering, adjust throttle and transmission shift points, and make this Mustang feel more like a thoroughbred than a ponycar.

© Provided by MotorTrend That independent rear suspension also creates a world of difference in the 2.3L model and the 5.0L V-8 I tested. The chassis feels well-bolted together and limits body roll through most corners. (While many of the parts are new to this Mustang, many are improved from the same chassis on which previous Mustangs were built.)

The suspension complements all of this by keeping that rear axle nicely planted to the ground. Instead of that terrifying/exhilarating axle hop one usually associated with Mustangs, there's just a smooth follow-through on every turn.

Cranking out 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, the 5.0L naturally aspirated engine is the one that will remind most people of what a Mustang traditionally sounds like. There's a gentle growl when you start it. It bubbles and burbles with the excitement of a horse on the paddock ready to race. Release it, and it will produce nothing but smiles.

If you want to shave off a few hundred miles of rubber from your rear tires, you can try the new Line-Lock that Ford has added to the manual transmission vehicles. Through a series of buttons on the track apps, you can spin the wheels so hard people will accuse you of sending smoke signals. All Mustangs have a launch control, which is easy to operate and provides a solid launch from every traffic light, without the wheelspin.

The upgraded 15-inch front brakes with a six-piston Brembo caliber on the performance pack for the 5.0 Mustang GT seemed a bit touchy at times and took some time to get used to. Once I did, I found myself braking later before each turn, allowing me to keep more speed through every canyon run.

One other noted feature is a slightly smaller steering wheel. I might not have noticed it if it hadn't been pointed out, but the wheel feels just the right size in your hands.

For me, however, the biggest changes to the Mustang are not the modern design, aluminum hood, and front fenders, or even those square-ish headlamps with illuminated war paint. It's the modern interior.

© Provided by MotorTrend Ford says the design of the controls was inspired by airplanes. There's some reasoning behind this, because while the front grille has a horse on it, but the Mustang's name actually comes from the P-51 Mustang fighter -- perhaps one of the coolest war planes ever to fly.

There are toggle switches along the base of the center stack that control all driver modes. There's one to select Comfort, Sport, or Track modes. Another adjusts the steering, tightening it up. The gauges are set deep into the dash and everything sparkles with chrome trim. There are two additional gauges on the dash, above the large LCD screen that can include Ford MyTouch and Sync.

© Provided by MotorTrend Whether you're sitting in the regular seats or the upgraded Recaro sport seats, everything is within reach. The steering wheel is crowded with buttons, and more features can be activated by voice using Sync. (Unlike some of the competitors' voice recognition software, Sync remains one of the best and has shown continual improvement.)

For this year, Ford added a 911 Assist to Sync. It allows your phone to immediately notify emergency responders, give them your GPS location, a crash description, and safety belt usage. Better yet, this system is free and does not require a monthly subscription — obviously a shot fired over the Chevrolet Camaro's hood and its OnStar system.

The second row in the Mustang remains just as unusable as in any other Mustang, but that's never been the point of this car. Mustang buyers have always understood this.

The 2015 Mustang will simply allow future Mustang owners a better way to live. It can hold its own against any rear-wheel-drive competition. But more to the point, it is the car that will make life easier and more comfortable. It can get better than 30 mpg on the highway, drive you comfortably to work, and still allow you some cool points with the neighbors without breaking the bank.

Whether you're using the adaptive cruise control on a road trip, the blind-spot detection system in traffic, or clicking the car to sport mode for a little canyon carving, the Mustang lives multiple lives, much like its owners.

This Mustang just happens to be the best one for all occasions.

2015 Ford Mustang GT© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Ford Mustang GT
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