The Ford Mustang Is No Longer A Muscle Car

For 50 years, the Ford Mustang has been the iconic American car.

Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to spend a weekend behind the wheel of an all-new 2015 Ford Mustang GT, outfitted in an eye-catching “triple yellow” paint job.

Honestly, Ford’s new sixth generation Mustang GT is nothing short of a revelation. It drives like a world-class sports car — not, dare I day it, like a Mustang.

Sure, the fifth generation Stang, which first hit the market in 2004, was pretty good to drive. But this new one is so much better.

Over the past five decades, the car buying public has developed a certain mental image of the so-called “muscle car.” That image is of rudimentary barnyard engineering, hulking engines capable extreme straight-line speed, and no ability to comprehend a corner.

No more. At least not with the new Mustang.

For 2015, Ford has replaced the Mustang’s traditional “muscle car” live-axle rear suspension — essentially an metal pole with a wheel attached at each end — with a modern, fully independent unit.

The difference is remarkable. In the corners, the Mustang remains steady and planted. It gives the driver a level of confidence that was simply not there in previous GT models.

It’s a good thing that Ford gave the pony car a modern suspension. Because the new Stang needs it to harness the 435 horsepower that’s under the hood. Power for the GT variant is courtesy of a 5.0 liter — that’s 302 cubic inches in muscle car parlance — overhead-cam Coyote V8. It’s the latest development of Ford’s “modular” engine, and boy, is it a fantastic motor!

It revs with incredible freedom. As a result, the flow of power from the V8 seems virtually endless. In fact, the higher you rev the engine, the more willing and enthusiastic the power delivery became.

Overall, the Mustang GT just feels like a classier car than its predecessors. More suit and tie than blue jeans. More Frank Sinatra than … Frank Stallone.

Ford Mustang GT 2015FordClassy

Just check out the cabin. For the first time in a while, the Mustang GT has a interior that looks like it should be part of a $US40,000-plus sports car. The materials feel premium. The Sync with MyFord Touch infotainment system in the car worked flawlessly. And unlike some cars out there in this price point, the metallic switches are machined out of actual metal, unlike certain highbrow luxury brands we’ve recently experienced.

The Mustang even had some electronic wizardry I wasn’t expecting on a car of its ilk, such as adaptive cruise control, adjustable steering settings, and an electronic drive-mode selector (available modes are Normal, Sport, Track, and Snow).

For the muscle-car aficionados, Ford has even included an electronic “line lock” feature that locks up the car’s front brakes, but allows the rear wheels to spin freely. Although the company’s engineers say that it’s to help driver heat up their rear tires, we all know what its true purpose is — burn outs!

The pony car is a survivor. The vast majority of its fellow muscle cars of the 1960s have gone the way of the dodo. Extinct.

Why has the Mustang endured? For better or for worse, the Stang has been able to adapt itself to meet the needs of the times.

Fortunately, this latest evolution hasn’t lost that old school Mustang feel. It’s good at everything its ancestors were good at. But now it can achieve more, much more.

The Mustang is still perfectly at home blasting down the drag strip. It’s V8 rumble is still intoxicating. But now, when the straight roads become twisty, the Mustang tackles them with confidence. When it’s time to putter around town, the Stang can coddle its occupants in relative luxury.

In many ways, the 2015 Mustang may be a signal that the age of the pure muscle car may be coming to an end.

Ultimately, I believe consumers will end up with better cars that are still fun, stylish, immensely powerful, and unmistakably American.

And that’s fine by me.

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