Mountain Wheels: 2015 Mustang GT gets down to real business (column)
“Is it supposed to be this loud, or this rough back here, and what is wrong with the tires?” These were the questions my poor mother asked me as we not entirely consciously opted to use the 2015 Mustang GT as a family vacation touring car for an entire week, as opposed to one great shock-and-awe machine to pick them up from the airport.
She ended up settling into the super-star ’Stang’s not-especially spacious rear seat way, way too many times. With me at the wheel, smirking.
Well, dear mother, yes, it really is supposed to be that loud — and I thank Mustang’s engineers repeatedly for doing so, in allowing the GT’s right proper 5.0-liter V8 to sound as muscly and macho as possible.
You may remember that my first crack at this very accomplished, all-new Mustang came in the beautiful, well-crafted but frankly Camry-sounding juxtaposition that is the standard ’Stang with the optional 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder.
Yes, the car was great on mileage and if you stomped it really hard you could get an impressive 310 horsepower, but its lack of discernible engine music was sadder than sad could be.
Mustang GT, however, changes the whole equation. For not all that much more money — provided you don’t option out the car up to the eyeballs, which is your own damned fault — you will get the car with a 435-horsepower engine of grumbly, roaring, tire-smoking fun.
We are talking $32,300, a price which may or may not include seats, but certainly includes that 4,951 cc engine, about 400 lb.-ft. of torque and all of the “yes, this time I WILL drag race you” bravado you can muster, without going all nutty and signing up for the 500-horsepower Shelby GT350, which will appear in extremely limited numbers over the next two years.
Yes, 435 earnest, American horsepower for $32,300, though the GT Performance package, navigation and the upgraded radio I enjoyed added $5,670 to that.
And yes, mom, the ride is more than just a bit sporty, what with the Mustang’s all-new, honest-to-goodness integral-link rear suspension, the move that brought the car out of the Stone Age and into modern automotive lore. That ability to feel the road and not just bounce all over the place with a live rear axle is … well, fantastic.
As for the tires mom asked about, screeching as they often did as we peeled out of second-hand store parking lots — well, yes, even with fat 19 x 9.5-inch 275/40R ZR-rated racing tires, part of the performance package, you’re still going to be able to get wheel spin in fourth gear in this baby.
It is not at all hard to get the GT very loose in the rear end, though I am sure you track aficionados are going to have a field day with your GTs when you tear out the interior and cram in a roll bar, and get to experience every single ounce of the car’s intense, modern-yet-Muscle Car-era-worthy character.
As I hoped, the GT takes the many, many positives of the 2015 platform and accentuates them. All of the car’s new wider/lower/flatter looks are amped up with blacked-out wheels, full ground-effect splitters (which are quite pronounced and curb-scratchingly dangerous up front) and an engine bay full of badness to actually justify the mean-looking dimpled hood and breather vents.
In the back, you actually pay more to get less — they remove the rear spoiler — and the whole look is pretty low-key, minus that giant GT logo, which tells everyone you’re ready for battle, at all times.
Inside, the already groovy setup gets a little jazzier with some aluminum-effect trim all over the mid console, plus analog oil pressure and boost gauges. In the car’s electronic track functions, on the mid-instrument screen, the presence of a bunch of G-force monitors and even a launch control setup speak to the car’s more decadent acts, should you be so inclined.
Some super-bolstered leather race seats, heated and cooled, keep you pretty firmly planted; the seating is, as my mother noted, still marginally brutal, and even more so for the person who does not call shotgun and ends up planted in the rear spots — which are just going to be too small for some passengers, unfortunately.
A super-notchy six-speed transmission with an old-fashioned ball shifter will provide enthusiasts with hours of pleasure. And the upgraded brakes, all the better for efficiently and safely reining in all of that ridiculousness.
The growl never gets old and the 18 real-world MPG I got (I did not emphasize the use of the sixth gear overdrive function, which will allegedly push the highway mileage up to 25, for those with great restraint) indicates that drivers will pay directly for their motoring misdeeds. Be fairly warned, as a result.
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