2015 Ford Mustang first drive review Page 2

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2015 Ford Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition

2015 Ford Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition

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Where the sidewall ends

The Mustang's magic elixir is--duh--displacement. The GT's cubic inches do magic, knitting all those subsystems together into a wonderfully composed road car with huge potential for the track.

The 5.0-liter V-8 checks in at 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, according to Ford's latest estimates (subject to change, they asterisk.) Said to be good for 155 mph, the V-8 and six-speed manual combination's easily good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds 0-60. Aurally it's also missing some of the excitement it could and should have: there's none of the flap-crackle-snarl that erupts from the similarly-sized Jaguar 5.0-liter eight. It's muted through sound deadening and gear whine, recognizably there but blanketed a little too much.

The Getrag six-speed shifter sometimes vagues out lever feel--if anything it could be a notchy, gated affair--but it pairs with hill-start assist and keeps us from stalling out on the uphill climbs through the Hollywood hills.

It's true, there's no more live axle to kick around--the Mustang has a strut front suspension and an independent rear that finally ditches the setup that's hounded the Mustang ever since the revived Camaro and Challenger came to life. There's a limited-slip differential, and standard 18-inch wheels and tires, all tallying up to a curb weight of about 3,700 pounds or more--substantial heft, a moderate gain over the live-axle 'Stang.

Like the EcoBoost car, the Mustang GT works its new suspension and revamped electric steering for great effect. Smoothly damped and twice as capable at snuffing out dive and squat, both Mustangs have great ride isolation and steering precision, whether the rack's feel has been toggled to Comfort or Sport from Normal feel. Hurtle it down a straight, snub off speed with the GT's four-piston front brakes and thick treads, and the Mustang tucks in neatly, quickly into the next corner. No more crazy-schizo axle hop to disturb you or the chosen line--the attitude is flat and it's easy to nudge through corners with the throttle.

Flick more of the toggles, and the Mustang cycles through drive modes that set its throttle, steering, stability control, and automatic-trans shifts. Skip by wet/snow and normal for Sport's deft reflexes--or Track, for an intervention-free slide (not recommended in Malibu, where washouts and police are equally dangerous hazards).

You can press the Mustang to its max giggle loads two ways. The first one's $2,495 more than the base GT: the Performance Pack. It swaps out the limited-slip diff for a Torsen unit, skins the wheels with Pirelli P Zero tires (255/40R fronts, 275/40R rears), slaps on Brembo brakes, braces the strut towers, and stiffens up the sway bars, springs, and dampers. Almost a hundred miles in this GT setup didn't garner any vetoes: the ride's still compliant enough for everyday use, the Torsen sticks the rear end to the ground like it's got worms.

The second one: launch control and line lock. Knock off impeccable 0-60 mph runs with the former, smoke away as much tire as you can afford with the latter. Line lock only works on level ground with steering set straight ahead and takes a half-dozen button clicks to access, so practice makes perfect before you make your coffee-and-octane debut, word to the wise.

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