You want answers on bound-for-Oz 2015 Mustang? We’ve got them, fresh from tearing Southern California’s mountains a new one in both 5.0 V8 GT and 2.3 Ecoboost forms.
Is it any good? It’s fantastic. But you’ll want the bent-eight GT. And whether Australia offers it as a cost-option ($US2495 in the U.S) or fits it as standard, you want the upgraded Performance Pack, which adds the fattest 19in rubber (255mm front, 275mm rear), stiffer suspension and an exclusive, GT-only, ‘short’ 3.7:1 helical LSD.
In short, the Mustang GT delivers all promise on what a modern muscle car should be, both sonically and characteristically. It looks gorgeous, has immense presence – at least in the brightest of its broad palette of colours – and the fat growl from idle through to the 7000rpm cut-out is worth a big chunk of the yet-to-be-confirmed entry price alone. It’s a complete good-vibe machine.
You won’t want the 231kW/434Nm Ecoboost. Forget it. It’s lighter (1603kg against 1680kg), has a slightly keener turn-in, and retains all the mojo of GT except the shove and soundtrack. But the Ecoboost is a Mustang neutered. It’s missing a big chunk of soul. And do you want to forever defend why you bought a four-banger ‘muscle car’?
So GT’s your guy. How does it compare to V8 Falcon/FPV stock? It’s no comparison, for good and bad. Neither truly substitutes for the other. The mojo-laden Mustang favours form over function and you could never squeeze four adults into either fastback or convertible. Neither has any rear head, leg, foot or shoulder room to speak of (a la GT-R or 911). In fact, the mid-’60s Mustang has more interior room (we measured).
But as a driver’s tool? The Mustang is a noticeably superior device in every respect. There’s only 325kW (at 6500rpm) and 543Nm (at 4250rpm), but its sonorous naturally-aspirated character – a dying breed in today’s force-induced climate – gels superbly with the short-stacked (and slightly baulky) Getrag six-speed manual.
It’s satisfyingly punchy and toey during red-misted punts, rorty and flexible at a dull-roar cruise. It’ll spin up the rears gleefully but only when intentionally provoked, and comes with both a line-lock ‘burnout’ function and launch control if your inner Hyde warrants it.
On twisty sweeping corners, the V8 loves to rev and offers throttle linearity an Aussie 5.0L could only dream of offering.
The real highlight – the big surprise, even – is Mustang’s dynamic talents. After half a century of enduring ox cart technology, the IRS and new double-ball joint strut front-end simply propels Mustang into a loftier handling realm.
But this is a realm best considered in context. As a muscle car, the Mustang delivers beyond expectation and sets new benchmarks. It feels to leave FPV and Chrysler’s SRT gear in the dust. But as a high-performance car, though, it’s no M3. Glass half or half full? It’s down to personal taste.
But the positives are many. The Performance Pack rides slightly too firm around town, but on a twisty back road its compliance and body control is blissful, it’s balance is beautifully neutral and confidence inspiring, it’s road-holding grip is huge and it’s front-end point almost manic.
Give it a complete bootful in the mid-corner and the nose refuses to budge off its line, its tail – with that top-spec Helical LSD – shimmying with grace and composure. A mere show pony this most definitely is not. It’s a proper thoroughbred.
If there’s a markdown, it’s that the three-mode (Comfort, Normal, Sport) adjustable steering lacks proper load-up, robbing the equation of some bona-fide feel. No gripes with the frankly brilliant six-pot (front) Brembo anchors, with enormous power backed up by a proper, almost motorsport-tuned progression in take-up and accuracy.
Is it palatable for Aussie consumption? Will it ‘fit in’, so to speak? Halfway into our punt from Hollywood out through the canyons of the Angeles National Forest, the feeling is a resounding yes. It brings something new and incredibly appealing Down Under with a blend of virtues that can be substituted with current local or imported muscle car stock.
Which begs the question of pricing. No Blue Oval rep from either side of the pond will confirm dollars or spec. It’ll land second quarter next year and sell beside Falcon for a couple of years, so the guestimate is mid-to-high $50K for the GT, north of $60K for the full-house Performance Pack (with US-optional Recaro pews) and the entry Ecoboost version could likely land for $40K-something.
It’s far from flawless. There are many aspects of the packaging, materials, cabin design, features and innate quality that the Germans won’t lose sleep over. But as far as delivering old-school muscle car thunder with an extremely capable and impressive contemporary spin, Mustang GT delivers what it promises on the box. And then some.