Saturday Road Test – 2015 Mustang

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2015 Mustang

Don’t Write Off the Four

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – “That is one fine looking Mustang you’ve got there,” was the neighbor’s first comment when the “Triple Yellow Tricoat” exterior first caught his eye and had him reaching for his sunglasses.

Further comments also indicated that he believed it simply had to have the 5.0 liter V8 hiding under the hood with the promise of tire burn marks appearing on the street in short order.

Informed it was a turbo four, neighbor and two younger onlookers yelled in indignant chorus, “A FOUR?????”

Perhaps that reaction, much like the appearance of an IRS agent on his lawn, might also mimic your response. But fear not dear reader, the Mustang that eats hay and the one that sips gas both run on fours and to good effect.

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In this case it is a 2.3 liter EcoBoost I4 with turbocharging and direct injection rated at 310 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm with 320 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,500 rpm. It is the first Ford engine to use a low-inertia twin-scroll turbo.

You can feed it a shot or two of regular 87 octane but premium will have it humming the full opera of output. A six speed manual shift is standard but the test car had a fast acting six speed automatic with paddle shifts and robust sounding downshift rev-matching.

Does it all work? Surprisingly, YES! Motor Trend recorded a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds and again let me add this is a four!!

Operators can select various modes of steering depending on the heft they desire. I recommend the “Sport” setting, but you might prefer “Normal” around town.

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There are is also a center console toggle for altering shift calibration, throttle sharpness and stability control with the menu reading “normal, wet/snow, sport and track.” Sport really brings out what the drivetrain has to offer and track adds a healthy dose of what could be called “Carroll Shelby’s Red Hot Chili” mix.

It really is a lot of fun and in the real world, outside of any track, will raise your blood pressure a notch or two. Will it make you forget about the big 5.0-liter V8 on the option list? No, but how much are you going to use that 435 horsepower in your day in, day out driving? Plus, you probably will save a few bucks over the life of your ownership on replacement rear tires.

All new for 2015 is the multi-link rear suspension in place of the old solid rear axle, a move that brings the car into the 21st century. Along with revised MacPherson struts up front, this is a fun car to take out on curvy back roads. It simply refuses to be unhinged if some road deficiencies pop up half way round a curve. But there are times when the car feels like it weighs in at 3,524 pounds despite the 100 pound diet the new model went on from the old ‘Stang.

With ample room all around it was easy to settle into a comfortable driving position, the white on black numerals on the important instruments were easy to read in all lighting conditions, the shift paddles were right where you would want them, the navi screen was just a nod away, and the rear view camera sleuthed out vehicles in the supermarket parking lot long before I could see them.

There are two seats to the rear, but unless you are transporting “wee ones” as my Irish friends would say, forget about it. It had a more upscale interior with lots of stitching, including around the brake lever.

There was a chuckle or two on the tach and speedometer gauges. Written across the speedo were the words “Ground Speed.” (As opposed to?) And texted across the tach was “Revolutions Per Minute x 1,000”. Oh, THAT’S WHAT THAT GAUGE MEANS”!!!!

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Out on the interstate the “Triple Yellow” test car, that an auto buff friend said could only be hidden in a banana plantation, offered a quiet and smooth ride. Fuel economy for the week’s test came to a respectable 27.3 mpg and that is leaving it in the “Sport” mode virtually the entire time. EPA estimates are 21 city, 32 highway for a combined 25 mpg.

The test car came with the “Premium Package” that included dual zone automatic temp control, a center armrest with a real padding, (rare enough these days,) aluminum finished instrument cluster and foot pedals, leather wrapped steering wheel with speed and audio controls, 12.5” inch front and rear brake rotors with two piston calipers up front, 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, and heated and cooled front seats among other items.

Pricing for that one starts at $30,495 with the six speed automatic. The yellow paint added $495. An “Enhanced Security Package with “Electronic Locking Center Console, anti-theft system and wheel locking kit kicked in for $395. Plus $1,195 for the Adaptive Cruise Control and $795 for voice activated navigation. All that brought the bottom line to a reasonable $33,005 sans transportation.

With the huge dose of refinement added to the 2015, the fun filled 4, more upscale interior, and Ford’s relegating the solid rear axle to the scrap heap, this is beyond question the best Mustang I have driven.

For real world driving, do not scoff at the four. It works just fine for that galloping stallion on the front grille and it will work just fine for you.

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