By Steve Laser
I find it difficult to believe that the Ford Mustang is 50 years old. Growing up in the 1960s, I remember seeing the car for the first time. I was just a kid but it made a lasting impression. A few years later, I received a slot-car set as a birthday gift from my folks and it included a 1/24th scale Mustang. I used to “drive” that car on the plastic track, watching it go around, and dreaming of the day that I would own a real car.
When I finally earned enough money to buy my first new car, I ordered a Camaro Z28. It was the late 1970s and I thought the Camaro was better looking than the Mustang II. Today’s buyers will have a more difficult time deciding between the Camaro and Mustang because both cars are now excellent.
When my friends at Ford PR sent an invitation to drive the new Mustang, I jumped at the chance. Instead of a week-long evaluation that I’m used to, I could spend a day driving the Mustang and other new Fords with fellow journalists. (It reminded me of the time I got to play with a childhood friend’s mega slot-car set but he made up the rules and I had to obey.)
I immediately knew which Mustang I wanted to drive when I first laid eyes on the bright orange GT fastback. So I grabbed my camera and made a beeline for the driver’s seat. Rather than repeat my first impressions in print, I invite you to watch the two videos above.
I’ve had the good fortune to drive nearly every generation Mustang over the years (big ones, not slot cars). Some were press loans, others were rental cars and a few belonged to friends. While my time in the new model was brief, I was impressed. Ford has done an excellent job refining the latest generation of the original pony car.
Three things that made the biggest impression included the new styling, the improved ride thanks to a new independent rear suspension, and the quality of materials inside the cabin. While the dimensions of the new Mustang haven’t changed drastically, the new fastback styling makes it look longer, lower and sleeker.
I drove on a bumpy road (see the first video) and was amazed at the way the car remained stable and squeak free. Of course, the 5.0-liter V8 put out gobs of power, now rated at 435 horses and 400 lb.-ft. of torque when running on 93-octane gas.
Mustang’s six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission delivered smooth shifts, and the exhaust note at full throttle was like music to my ears. Ford also offers a 3.7-liter V6 and a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, which scores the best fuel economy estimates of the pack.
Of course, the Mustang offers the latest safety and convenience features including AdvanceTrac® electronic stability control, eight airbags on the coupe with a new passenger knee airbag packaged inside the glovebox door, MyKey® programmable vehicle key with support for up to four fobs and individual tire pressure monitor.
In this day of the connected car, Mustang obliges by offering the available SYNC® with MyFord Touch® voice-activated technology, a navigation system, and 390-watt Shaker™ Pro Audio with HD Radio™ technology including an eight-inch subwoofer mounted in the trunk of our test car.
Prices for the new Mustang start at $23,600 for the V6 coupe, while the GT has a base MSRP of $32,100, or $36,100 with Premium equipment like our test car. A new Mustang convertible is on its way too, and so is the eagerly awaited all-new Shelby GT350® that we saw on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
If you’re in the market for a sporty rear-drive coupe, be sure to put the new Mustang on your shopping list. Even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Camaro or Challenger fan, before you sign on the dotted line, take an hour to test-drive the new Mustang. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn how good it is.
2015 Ford Mustang GT press fleet vehicle provided by Ford Motor Company. Prices are subject to change without notice.
Story, photos and videos ©2014 CarNichiWa.com