These spy photos from under the hood of a 2015 Ford Mustang reveal two important pieces of information about the next-generation car. First, it will continue to use the 5.0-liter V-8 engine from the current Mustang GT, and second, the new Mustang may have a more rounded snout than the current car's flat-nosed design.
The engine in this test car looks identical to the 5.0-liter V-8 that powers the Mustang GT, as evidenced by the intermeshed intake runners and black "Powered by Ford" cylinder-head covers. It's too early to say whether the engine will receive any upgrades for the next-generation Mustang; the 5.0-liter V-8 currently produces 420 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque in the Mustang GT, while a tuned version in the Boss 302 offers 444 hp and 380 lb-ft.
Even if the 5.0-liter stays in place, Ford will need a base engine for the new Mustang. There's a possibility the standard 3.7-liter V-6 will stay in place, but other reports suggest Ford may introduce a 2.3-liter turbo-four engine either as an option or to replace the base V-6. The forced-induction engine would not only be more powerful than the current Mustang's base V-6, with about 320 to 350 hp, but it also should be significantly more fuel-efficient.
Another important clue to the design of the new Mustang is the way in which the front of the engine bay tapers toward the center. Whereas the current car and its engine bay have a squared-off front end with almost 90-degree angles at the front corners of the engine bay, the frame rails on this prototype curve inward behind the headlights, and a plastic shroud betrays a front radiator support that makes a continues curve along the front end of the car. That almost certainly signals that the 2015 Ford Mustang will have a rounded front fascia, marking a dramatic styling departure.
Ford engineers have previously told us the new car will adopt the company's so-called Kinetic 2.0 styling language that is seen on new Ford cars like the 2013 Fusion. That means rounded, curving shapes instead of straight lines. The new Fusion demonstrates a rounded nose with taillights that are mounted at an angle at the edges of the car, and that design direction will likely carry over to the Mustang. Seeing curved, tapering frame rails in this Mustang prototype lends even more credence to suggestions the new car will be styled like the dramatic, swoopy Ford Evos concept that was revealed at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
A more cramped engine compartment also could pose problems for the massive 5.8-liter supercharged V-8 used in the current Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Either Ford will use a gigantic shoehorn to fit the big blown engine into the new car's engine bay, or future high-performance Mustangs must adopt physically smaller (and smaller-displacement) mills.
Our spy photographers have already caught prototypes of the 2015 Ford Mustang dressed up as 2013 cars, but closer inspection has revealed the ill-fitting bodywork and awkward proportions of a test car. We also got a look beneath the rear of the new Mustang and learned that it will, as was long rumored, finally ditch its live-axle setup in favor of an independent rear suspension. That will probably be a version of the "Control Blade" arrangement Ford already uses in Australia for the Falcon sedan.
The 2015 Ford Mustang is expected to make its public debut at the 2014 New York auto show. The timing would be fitting, as it would mark the 50th anniversary of the first Mustang's introduction at the 1964 New York show. Ford also has announced that it will officially sell the next Mustang in Europe; pony-car fans on the Continent currently must pay onerous import fees and taxes to bring a Mustang to their shores.