About 25 years ago I had my first Mustang experience. I was somewhere around 2 or 3 years old and my aunt had a light blue 1966 Mustang. Somewhere I have a picture of me sitting in the driver’s seat playing while my father and grandfather fiddled under the hood. Sadly I was too young to remember the experience and only vaguely remember the car. About five years later I remember being piled in the family car and seeing some peculiar tail lights on the car in front of us. I like them a lot and upon asking what kind of car it was I learned that it was a then new or almost new fox body GT with what are now some of the least favored tail lights in the Mustang community- “cheese graters” as they call them. It was those cheese grater lights that ignited a love of the Mustang. Fast forward to today and that love is still as strong as ever and when an opportunity to drive the new 2015 Mustang GT Performance Pack presented itself, I was all over it.
A little more than a year ago the 2015 Mustang was unveiled to the world. Like so many others, I was a little uncertain about the styling department. A “Fusion Coupe” many have said. It wasn’t until I spotted one in person that I was truly sold on how good this car looks, especially with how chiseled those new tail lights are. Since then I have been left waiting to drive one.
I finally got the chance recently and, overall, I’m impressed. The 435 hp 5.0L V8 felt strong and made plenty of power, that’s 200 hp more than the famous five-oh of 25 years ago and more than double the power made by the original 302 from 1968! Even with the added 200 lbs of weight over the 2014 (3813 lbs), thanks largely to the all new independent rear suspension, the car feels plenty quick in a straight line. Quicker than I was expecting. It manages 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The reworked clutch takes some getting used to. There was very little feel but operated smoothly. The six speed manual is smooth and perhaps a bit too light. A quick shift kit would do it wonders. The shifts themselves are very smooth. Even on hard shifts the new pony car doesn’t buck or lurch about. AJ Wilcox drove an automatic version just days before and he said the automatic is great for an automatic. The six speed flappy paddle job is quick to react to every pull of the paddle but also said that he would much rather a manual.
AJ also brings up a great point about the drive. The Mustang is soft. Sure it handles great (pulling 0.96g in the skidpad) but it feels too refined. Too soft. Even the available Performance Package with its upgraded suspension, 3.73 final drive ratio, and massive Brembo brakes suffers from this. The GT soaks up the bumps on a rough backroad so well that the only way you know you are driving a Mustang is the running horse on the steering wheel. Because of this fact I have no doubt that you could comfortably drive across the country in the GT and still have enough power and cornering ability to want to take the scenic route. The steering felt nicely weighted and even communicative for a Mustang, something it has taken Ford years to get right. The early Mustangs from the 60s had extremely vague steering feel, especially if they had power steering. I should know being the owner of a 67 Coupe. The new steering offers great confidence out on the road and enables the driver to feel more comfortable entering corners at ridiculous speeds.
The interior is one of, if not the best, interior the Mustang has ever seen. With it’s aircraft inspired switch gear and gauges, the Mustang looks futuristic yet retro at the same time. The dash pad for example matches the lines of the original Mustangs of the 60s while things like the starter button and touch screen monitor help keep the car feeling up to date with the latest in tech. My wife did, however, gripe about the layout of the buttons and switches since some of the controls were a little hard to find. If you order one of these, please do yourself a favor and check the “Recaro Seats” box. The $1500 option is money well spent in our book. They hold your butt snug in all the right places and they look good too.
The only other gripe we had with the car is Ford’s apparent liberal use of sound deadening. The car is quiet inside! Even with the stereo and air off you barely get a sense that there is a V8 under the hood. Outside the car is a completely different story. Rev that sweet 5.0 to its 6500 rpm redline and your ears will be treated to a glorious sound of music. These stock pipes are actually louder than any previous stock GT in recent memory. But then again, who keeps stock pipes on a Mustang?
As I give the new pony a run through the gears one last time I can’t help but think of how much I want one. How much I need one! Despite its flaws we have to give big praises to Ford for giving America such a great car. This pony car has become a grand tourer. Quick and fun when you want it to be but perfectly capable of keeping you comfortable during long trips. Besides, if you want the true sports version, wait for the GT350. This car will keep a smile on your face no matter the driving situation. Its a Mustang for crying out loud! Most of us will be stuck watching those tail lights pull farther and farther ahead but if your kids are anything like me growing up, those tail lights will spark a life-long affair.
Photo: The Author