The Mustang Finally Grows Up, But It’s Still a Hoodlum at Heart

After a nauseating slalom through Malibu’s mercilessly twisting Latigo Canyon Road, I finally reach a deserted straightaway and creep to a stop before turning to my co-pilot. “This is good,” I say as he grabs my camera, climbs out of the car, and proceeds to immortalize the mother of all rubber-vaporizing, neighbor-waking, call-the-cops-before-that-idiot-drives-away smoky burnouts.

The photographer’s smoke-clouded subject is the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. The weird part of this act of automotive hooliganism isn’t the burnout (an ancient, sacrosanct part of the hot rodder’s vehicular canon), but the fact it was brought about by an electronic “line-lock” track app feature my passenger helped conceptualize and develop during his day job as a Ford engineer. Even stranger, he had absolutely no qualms about being associated with said activity—in fact, he encouraged it. Strange days, indeed.

The 2015 Mustang marks the sixth generation of the iconic pony car, and the first major reworking of the model in nearly a decade. Three basic tiers are available: One with a V6 engine ($23,600), another with Ford’s fuel-saving EcoBoost powerplant, ($25,170), and the most powerful of the bunch, the GT ($32,100).

Styling-wise, the new Mustang comes with reworked sheet metal characterized by what Ford designers call a “shark bite” profile, a longer and more muscular hood, and a downsloped tail. The love-it-or-leave it looks (we love it) are complemented by a familiar but updated interior, which is more sophisticated than its predecessor, with refined treatments and neat options like real turned aluminum surfaces.

The Mustang has finally graduated to the next stage of its life—a great thing for the Ford Motor Company, but in GT form, it has also managed to keep a foot in its brawny past. The track apps (which also include launch control, acceleration timing, and an accelerometer) may give a modern bent to the half century-old Mustang, but this car’s true heart lies in its refined, muscular underpinnings.

Though some drivers will invariably gravitate to the lower priced V6 and EcoBoost offerings, die-hards will fall for the V8’s organic throttle response and seamless power. Oh, and you can only get line-lock on the GT, which rounds it out as a properly hedonistic range topping model—at least until the inevitable Shelby version is released.

Downsides? Well, there’s the ease with which the Mustang can surpass the $40,000 mark, nudging it into next-level pricing territory which takes it well beyond the realm of accessibility for young enthusiasts. But with its hoodlum-friendly features and speed-inspiring athleticism, perhaps that’s just as well: this new era of Mustang ought to be enjoyed responsibly, a feat I certainly couldn’t have expected from my 16-year-old self, let alone my current self, as evidenced by my road test antics with the new model. If that’s not praise for a 50 year-old muscle car, I don’t know what is.

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