After months of spotting camouflaged development mules criss-crossing the Metropolitan Detroit area, we finally have our first look at the 2015 Ford Mustang’s front fascia with no camouflage whatsoever.
Our photographer was happily surprised to encounter Ford engineers peeling back the 2015 Mustang's front camouflage for a cooling system shakedown, but the rounded, tapered snout you see here is no surprise. Not only have we seen a slender nose appear on several Mustang test cars over the past few years, but Ford officials have readily admitted the new 2015 Mustang will abide by the company’s “Kinetic 2.0” styling language. This design language, which helped shape the 2013 Fusion sedan, includes a rounded nose with a hexagonal grille; thin, tapering headlamps; and an athletic stance. From what we see here, the 2015 Mustang seems to tick most, if not all, of those boxes. There's certainly a lot of influence from the 2011 Ford Evos concept, as Ford insiders had long suggested, but there's no mistaking it for anything other than a Mustang, thanks to a tall, rising hood with chiseled shoulders, a split grille, and that iconic galloping stallion emblem.
“We really believe it’s a family look,” Hau Thai-Tang, then Ford’s executive director of global product platforms, told us on the sidelines of the 2012 Detroit auto show. Thai-Tang promised the car would “move the Mustang forward,” but not abandon its heritage in the process. “We don’t think the two [themes] are mutually exclusive,” he noted.
Much like the exterior, the 2015 Ford Mustang is also expected to take a step forward mechanically. Although still a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the 2015 Mustang ditches the age-old live rear axle in favor of an independent rear suspension, something not offered on a Mustang since the 2004 Mustang SVT Cobra. It’s believed the new 2015 Mustang will use a variant of the so-called Control Blade four-link trailing arm suspension design, which is also found in the soon-to-be-discontinued Australian Falcon model. Others suggest the car could utilize a slightly different design, utilizing double wishbones in lieu of a four-link arrangement. Whatever the car winds up using, expect the live axle to be relegated to history, with the possible exception of a drag-race special like the Ford Racing Mustang Cobra Jet.
We also expect a bit of a shake-up in terms of powertrain. The 3.7-liter V-6 is expected to remain the base engine offering, and we’ve seen development mules packing the potent 5.0-liter Coyote V-8, which was introduced to the Mustang portfolio in 2011. Even so, it’s a loose secret that the 2015 Mustang will be offered with an EcoBoost engine, marking the first time a turbocharged engine is sold in a Mustang since the 1986 Mustang SVO.
Derrick Kuzak, formerly Ford’s vice president of global product development, told us at the 2012 Detroit show that it was “too early” to talk about the new Mustang, but hinted at turbocharged engines to come. “Let me put this in context,” he said. “When we talked about downsizing to six-cylinders in F-series trucks several years ago, people looked at us like we were crazy. You can take the same view about Mustang.”
Kuzak has since left Ford, and reports have since popped up indicating the Mustang’s future forced-induction engine will likely be a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that could be shared with a forthcoming Focus RS model. Output was rumored to be in the 250-300 hp range, but given the 3.7-liter V-6 presently cranks out 305 hp, expect the finished Mustang-grade turbo-four to be produce somewhere closer to 320-350 hp.
That engine will likely be sold stateside, but it will certainly help Ford pursue its goal of selling the 2015 Mustang in Europe, something it’s sporadically done ever since launching the car abroad as the T5 in 1965. Presently, the automaker doesn’t officially import the Mustang to the continent, leaving interested customers to either import the car on their own or find specialist shops to do the legwork for them.
There’s also talk that Ford’s SVT group is also working on a follow-up to the wild 662-hp Shelby GT500, but that the finished product may not be as lairy. Whispers indicate the 2015 Ford Mustang’s svelte nose might make packing the GT500’s supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 within the engine compartment somewhat difficult. We’ve heard speculation that the next-gen Shelby Mustang will instead utilize a rev-happy, naturally-aspirated V-8, and may adopt the GT350 name, a rumor that’s gained traction in light of Shelby American’s recent announcement that it will cease production of its tuned GT350 model.
We’ll know more as we creep towards April of 2014, as the 2015 Ford Mustang will debut at the 2014 New York auto show, a nod to the original Mustang’s public unveiling at the 1964 World’s Fair. That may not be the only twist of nostalgia, either.Rumors suggest the car will launch in North America as a “2014.5” model, with production limited to 1000 cars. If so, regular production cars, including those built for markets abroad, will likely be titled as 2015 models.