3 Things I Learned When I Saw the 2015 Ford Mustang

That's the current Mustang on the left, and the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang on the right. When you see them together, you realize they're quite different. Photo by the author.

Ford (NYSE: F  ) took the wraps off the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang on Thursday, unveiling its proud pony car in a series of events in cities around the world.

I was at the event in New York, and I was able to get up close with a pair of Ford's new Mustangs: a red fastback coupe and a silver convertible. I was also able to chat with several key Ford executives — including CEO Alan Mulally himself — and get insights into Ford's plan for its new pony.

By now, everyone who is interested in the new 2015 Mustang has seen the official photos Ford released on Thursday. But here are three things I can tell you about the new Mustang that might not be obvious from the photos and details that you've seen so far.

1. It's much better-looking in person
See that photo up at the top of the page? That's the current Mustang on the left, and the all-new model — the bright red one — on the right.

It's just a cell phone snapshot -- I arrived at the event early, and there it was -- but it gives a sense of what makes the new Mustang so striking in person. Compared to the current car, it's wider — and it looks quite a bit lower. 

The new Mustang's chief engineer, Dave Pericak, told me that the roof on the fastback is 30 millimeters lower than that on the current Mustang coupe. That's just a little over an inch, but it makes a big difference in the car's "stance", as the designers call it. 

And the shape of the front end is very well done. The nose slopes down to what Ford design chief Moray Callum calls the Mustang's "shark bite" grille. Yes, its shape is a riff on Ford's current pseudo-Aston-Martin corporate grille, but trust me — nobody is going to mistake this new Mustang for a two-door Fusion. (Or an Aston. Or anything else.)

Callum says that the front end's details, such as the shape of the headlight openings, were stretched horizontally to help emphasize the car's width. The overall impression is very striking, very assertive. It's new, but it's totally in keeping with the Mustang's character.

2. The interior is a solid step up, too
In premium trim, the current Mustang's interior is pretty nice. As with other recent Fords, the materials are mostly high-quality, the design is cohesive, and its executed to a high standard.

But the new Mustang looks like it'll be a substantial step up. The Mustang GT convertible we were looking at had lots of high-quality leather, an aircraft-inspired dash that honors Mustang tradition while remaining all-business, and plenty of thoughtful details, including a row of attractive metal-finished toggle switches.

At least in top-line trim, the new Mustang's interior should impress. Photos by Rex Moore, The Motley Fool.

To be fair, that convertible was probably loaded. Ford didn't give me any details about the trim lines and specs, but it's safe to say that base V6 models won't have leather like the car we saw. But still, I think it's safe to say that they'll be nicer than the current cars, and nicer than you might expect.

When's the last time you saw toggle switches like these in a new car? They're retro, but also completely modern. Photo by Rex Moore, The Motley Fool

Ford has learned a lot since the current Mustang was launched way back in 2005 — and even since it was refreshed for the 2010 model year. One key lesson: Great interiors help sell cars. 

And remember this point, which Mulally and his lieutenants hammered over and over: The new Mustang is a global Ford. It has to impress customers in places like Germany and China, where it will likely be cross-shopped against Audis and BMWs — not just Camaros and Challengers. The new Mustang's interior has to impress those folks, too.

From what I saw on Thursday, Ford hit the mark with the new Mustang's interior.

3. In one important way, the new Mustang isn't like other Fords
Ford has pushed hard to consolidate its model lineup on a much smaller set of "platforms" than in the past. A platform, in the auto business, is a set of common dimensions that allow different vehicles to share key parts (usually parts that aren't visible) and to be made on the same assembly lines. 

For example, Ford's Focus, Escape, and C-Max all share a platform. They're different vehicles with different looks and different driving characteristics, but they share key parts, which reduces costs, and they can be made on the same assembly line, which reduces costs further.

All of Ford's platforms are expected to earn their global keep nowadays. A Ford spokesman told me on Friday that Ford's current plan is to build "virtually all" of its vehicles on just nine "global core platforms" by 2016.

Ford's nine "global core platforms", from a presentation given earlier this year. (Yes, that's the current Mustang, not the new one). Source: Ford Motor Co.

Note that most of those platforms are shared among several models. The D-Platform, for instance, underpins the Explorer, the Flex, and the Taurus. 

But — at least as of right now — the Mustang's new platform isn't shared with any other Ford model anywhere in the world. According to Pericak, it was developed and optimized specifically for the Mustang.

That doesn't mean that it won't be shared with future models at some point. But at least as of right now, the Mustang has a very special status in Ford's current global plan.

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Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 2:37 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    John: WOW. This is a very fine and informative article. The odds of me being a Mustang owner are slim, BUT as an F investor, I was chomping at the bit to understand it. And get some inside pics. And get some insight. And get how it fit in the Ford strategy. You satisfied those needs all in one article.

    While it remains to be seen if Ford will eat its competitors lunch, it is very clear that they will compete very well, and have their eye on the ball.

    You just can't ask for much more from a management team than that.....

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 2:44 PM, Black13GT wrote:

    Before the great unveiling, as a current Mustang owner, I wasn't sure I'd like this car from all the talk of getting rid of the retro look. But I am quite impressed with what Ford has done. It gives me confidence that a decade from now, when I need to replace my current ride, the Mustang will probably still exist in some form of its essence.

    On the 2015, I love the wider stance and the way the roof blends into the tail. I love that you can still tell at a glance that it's a Mustang. I am going to miss the "hockeystick" line on the side, the grille-mounted fogs (on the GT), and the separate rear quarter window. The interior is a mixed bag for me. It seems a bit too jumbled, the intersecting surfaces not seeming to work together as well as the "dated" dash in my 2013, and there are still way too many buttons. Even on my current ride, I miss the no-nonsense dials for the HVAC system on my prior GT from 2000. But I do like that row of toggle switches, and the fact that you can once again get a proper oil pressure gauge and ammeter, even though it's at extra cost.

    Overall, as long as you can get a GT with a few options for mid-30s, I think Ford has a winner, at least in my mind.

    One thing that puzzles me, though - does Ford really think that this will be cross-shopped with premium European brands? Although there is a great deal of mutual respect for our respective cars, at least with the people I know, I don't feel that BMW/Audi/370Z drivers are going to want Mustangs and vice-versa. But I am not Ford's marketing department, so I am probably speaking out of turn here.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 2:51 PM, Black13GT wrote:

    P.S. A set of more aggressive wheels would do wonders for that 2014 V-6 on the left in the top picture. The current 2010-2014, while "retro" in some details, is still a striking, modern shape that gives up nothing to the new restyle.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 9:14 PM, fordchun wrote:

    Greatly informative article on what appears to be the continuation of a great American success story. I can't wait to have a NEW Mustang in my driveway! With Ford being one of the best managed corporations in America and with the innovative new Mustang and soon to arrive all new Ford F-series trucks, it is a sure bet to say that Ford's future looks very, very bright. This Mustang will appeal to so many buyers that records will be set and profits will be high. They have also beautifully addressed their commercial customer needs with the NEW upcoming E-series van replacements, which will soon be a major part of the landscape on our roadways. As a FORD shareholder(small time), it is exciting and I am confident that my broker will be getting an order call from me, to increase my share count. Ford's design team, technology team and marketing team are second to none and I for one am going to position myself to support and take advantage of this corporate expertise! Gotta love Ford!!! HW

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 12:21 AM, cobranut wrote:

    Black13GT:

    I'd still bet you that those gauges are FAKE, just like the rest of the Ford line.

    That's been my biggest complaint with Ford of late.

    The temperature and oil pressure gauges on my Mustang, Superduty diesel, and the temp gauge on my Focus NEVER MOVE after the first couple of miles of warmup. There's not even an oil pressure sending unit on the motor, just a switch that closes at about 10psi, and the temp gauge has only three positions, cold, normal, and COOKED, so there's NO WARNING that anything is wrong until it's TOO LATE to do anything about it.

    For the life of me I can't figure out a reason for gauges to work this way, they're just a more expensive warning light.

    Ford, PLEASE give us WORKING GAUGES with NUMBERS on the dial that represent the TRUE status of our engines!!! We're not ALL idiots!

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 10:22 AM, miteycasey wrote:

    Looks like a cross between a jaguar(nose), audi(body), and 350Z(rear).

    Not a fan.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 12:10 PM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    @miteycasey: No it doesn't. Not even close. If anything, maybe those cars look a little like a Mustang. It's a little lower than the current car, a little meaner, and has more of maybe a '69 fastback flavor than a '67ish flavor like the current cars, but it's a Mustang. It's not anything else.

    @Black13GT: It might well get cross-shopped with BMWs -- in Europe, and maybe in China too. Not necessarily here, though I'm sure there will be a few examples. But remember, the '15 is a world car now.

    John Rosevear

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 12:55 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    ^ JR aren't they ALL world cars now?

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 12:56 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    ^ JR aren't they ALL world cars now?

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 12:57 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    ^ excuse dupe please, some kind of delay, with an impatient happy clicker watching....

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 3:34 PM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    All the Fords? Yeah, pretty much, and the ones that aren't (like the Edge) soon will be. But the Mustang's traditional US rivals aren't so much. GM offers the Camaro in Europe, but it's an expensive import and they don't sell very many. I don't think the Challenger is sold outside of North America.

    John Rosevear

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2013, at 3:19 AM, puppybone69 wrote:

    Nobody is gonna mistake the new Mustang for a 2 door Fusion? Yeah, right, because everybody can clearly see that's exactly what it is! I no longer own a 2013 Ford Fusion, it's a 2015 Ford Mustang sedan now!

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2013, at 12:38 PM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    @puppybone69: I've seen it and touched it. You haven't. All I can say is, you're very wrong.

    John Rosevear

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