2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost: Shock and dismay is so last year! [REVIEW]

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

Last year Chevrolet introduced the world class C7 Corvette Stingray while also creating the most track-focused muscle car of all time: the Camaro Z/28. Over at Dodge, a hydrogen bomb was lobbed into the horsepower wars with the introduction of the 707-hp Challenger Hellcat. Mopar fans looking for a bit more style and a few more cylinders, there’s good news as the sinister Viper is still available. Meanwhile at Ford, a pair of ST hot hatches are redefining front-wheel drive performance. But that’s not the biggest news coming out of Dearborn. No, this year an automotive icon is being born anew: the Ford Mustang.
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, which is quite an achievement. Not often does one nameplate survive a half-century in existence, especially one that has stuck to the same basic formula the whole time. But with sales totalling over nine million, no one can blame Ford for keeping each Mustang revision evolutionary instead of revolutionary. The 2015 redesign is much the same, but does include a few significant additions to the legendary Pony car. The first is who can buy it. Primarily sold in North America up until now, for the first time ever the Mustang is a global car that will be available in several markets around the world.

Ford Mustang Front.JPG

Longer, lower, wider and more modern, Ford’s engineers wanted to ensure the new car would be instantly recognizable as a Mustang. Familiar styling elements have been added like the three-bar tail lamps, sequential turn signals and LED front accent lighting. The most obvious styling change to the new car occurs up front where one of three grilles is applied to the car’s nose, depending on which engine is selected. Like Mustangs of the past few decades, two body styles will be available for the 2015 model. Hardtop models are no longer referred to as coupes, but rather fastbacks thanks to the long sloping rear greenhouse. Joining the fastback later in the year will be a cloth top convertible. Regardless the familiar Mustang whale-tail is firming in place, and more pronounced than ever.

Ford Mustang Dash.jpg

Inside, Ford claims this is the most premium interior ever put into a Mustang and I wouldn’t argue. Soft touch materials dominate the door panels and can be found in various places across the dashboard, separated horizontally by a piece of real aluminum. Ford increased knee room for front passengers by making the dash thinner and finally, a telescopic steering wheel has been added to the Mustang. There are a few highlights inside worth noting, I do have the adjustable steering that allows the driver to cycle through three levels of feedback and force. As well, I love the feel of the optional Recaro seats as they fit my body type perfectly. In the back, the new Mustang fastback has an extra inch of legroom compared to the old model, but space is still tight and should be reserved for children or luggage. The trunk now measures in at 13.5 cubic feet and Ford claims it is a more usable shape than the old model.

Ford Mustang Front 3/4.JPG

Under the hood will be a choice of three different engines. The 3.7-liter V6 is still the base engine, making 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Stealing all the headlines is the new 2.3-liter, direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Ford hopes this new Ecoboost model will open the Mustang up to a whole new demographic. But what would a Mustang be without a V8 option? Topping out the range once again is the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that now makes 435 HP and 400 lb-ft. of torque. Like the V6 and turbo four, the V8 thankfully runs on regular gas.All three engines come with the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. And like any good Mustang, a choice of rear-end gear ratios are offered starting with 3.15 gears for base automatics all the way up to the optional 3.73 gear in manual-equipped GT models. And there’s more good news: all of these are paired to a standard limited-slip differential. Ford claims the manual transmission comes with a new shift linkage that makes engaging a gear easier. Keeping the driver in mind, Ford has moved the shift lever closer to the driver and placed the cup holders further away so drinks placed there will not interfere with gear changes.

Ford Mustang Seats.jpg

Aside from the Ecoboost engine, the other big newsmaker for 2015 is the new independent rear suspension. Gone is the solid rear axle that may make drag racers sad, but will delight those who include corners in their daily automotive diet. Combined with a wider rear track, stiffer and lighter front sub-frame and larger brakes, it’s clear the 2015 Mustang was designed right from the start to out-handle its predecessor. With poise and refinement of the nicely weighted steering, the Mustang feels light on its feet and responds to driver inputs predictably and quickly. The 2015 Mustang’s chassis is clearly set-up to hustle around corners quickly. The EcoBoost makes more power than a 2009 Mustang GT. Even with a nearly 200 lbs. weight increase, the 3,532 lbs. EcoBoost with the performance package will also run circles around that old V8 ‘Stang. The standard rear-limited slip differential does help control these slides, but make no mistake; four-cylinder or not, there’s more than enough power here for burnouts and tire-smoking drifts. In the winter, snowy donuts will be fun, easy and irresistible.

Ford Mustang Rear.JPG

The more I drive the EcoBoost, the more I wonder why that V6 even exists anymore. The EcoBoost behaves a lot like a Subaru turbo. But the engine noise is still an issue. I can’t trick my brain into going along with the fake sounds, no matter how good they sound. Ford should have opened up the exhaust a bit, especially when selecting the performance package and left the simulated sounds out of the equation. There isn’t a ton of power down low, but mid-range and high RPM power is great once the boost builds. The car feels faster than the numbers suggest. Passing on the highway is no problem as the turbocharged torque easily accelerates even in high gear. Anyone who is sad about the demise of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0 turbo should take an EcoBoost Mustang out for a drive as it will quickly make them forget all about that Hyundai. Part of that has to do with the way this particular car is equipped. It’s a bit of an enthusiast special as the only options added are the performance package, Recaro seats, reverse park assist and the security package.

Ford Mustang Ecoboost.jpg

Let me make one thing perfectly clear about the new Mustang: it is not a muscle car. No, calling the 2015 Mustang a muscle car is almost an insult because this is a proper sports car. And like most sports cars these days, the Mustang comes equipped with selectable drive modes that can adjust steering effort, engine response, transmission mapping and stability control settings towards the preference of the driver. Want more performance? The Mustang GT includes Track Apps, with features like an accelerometer, launch control, performance timers and line lock. The latter allows owners who want to take the Mustang drag racing the ability to warm up the rear tires in a cloud of smoke by keeping just the front brakes engaged during burnouts. If that’s still not enough, performance packages are available for Ecoboost and GT that really turn the Mustang into a weekend track weapon.

Ford Mustang Rear 3/4.JPG

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How could Ford possibly do this to America’s Pony car? Well, it happened and after my first drive in the car, I came away impressed. Let’s start with the facts. Making 310 HP and 320 lb-ft. of torque, the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces more power than the 2009 Ford Mustang GT V8. That’s also 40 lb-ft. more torque than the current 3.7-liter V6. Oh, and it can deliver all that power on regular gasoline at 21 MPG in the city and 32 MPG highway with the automatic. This all starts at just $25,175 after destination charges. That puts the EcoBoost Mustang right at the top of the affordable sports car market. With the exception of making the new Mustang a front-wheel drive fuel sipping hybrid, there isn’t much Ford could have done to turn diehard fans off of the company’s legendary sports car. But Ford set out to make the new GT a better performer than the Boss 302 and the company has succeeded. Mustang fans rejoice; with power, poise, handling and refinement, this is the best all-around Mustang ever. If you still don’t think a four-cylinder engine belongs in a Ford Mustang, get over it. The engine is here and equipped the right way, turns the Mustang into a fantastic performance bargain. Priced in line with other compact sports cars, it feels just as responsive and powerful as anything else around the $30,000 price point, while offering classic pony car style.