2015 Ford Mustang GT: 5.0 Mojo
March 18, 2015
Ford upgraded almost everything for the new-generation 2015 Ford Mustang. But the company must have used the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" when it came time to look at the GT's 5.0-liter V8 engine. This mill was awesome when it debuted for the 2011 Mustang and still has plenty of mojo today.
The 2015 V8 does make a little more power now. It's rated at 435 horsepower, up from 412 back in 2011. (The 2012 and 2013 Boss 302 did make 444 hp.) Torque is up from 390 pound-feet originally to 400 lb-ft for 2015. It's still the same experience, though. The Mustang's got enough power that you'll think to yourself, "Dang, this thing is fast!" when you really get on it, yet you're not necessarily paying for a bunch of extra power that you either can't use very often or will just get you in trouble if you do.
The GT is also keeping it real with natural aspiration. True, the appeal of today's turbocharged mills is inescapable. Just look at the Mustang's new turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder "EcoBoost" and its 310 hp and 26 mpg EPA combined rating. But the 5.0 "Coyote" delivers immediate power right off idle and rewards you with a sweet buildup of V8 yowl and acceleration when you keep your foot on the gas all the way to the 7,000 rpm redline.
I'm also really glad we got the manual transmission on our test car. I actually had to go and double check but, yep, this is the only car in our long-term fleet right now with a manual transmission (excluding the rarely mentioned Miata.) With the manual, there's that physical interaction between driver and car that you don't get otherwise with an automatic or automated manual.
The transmission's gearing is closely spaced and short, providing many opportunities to work the shifter (I'm sure our car's 3.73 optional rear-end gearing is contributing to that). Keep the shifts quick and around 2,000 rpm as you accelerate from a stoplight, which the Mustang is just fine doing, and you'll be in sixth gear by 45 mph or so. Another example: In our instrumented track test, Josh noted that at full acceleration the Mustang is ready for fifth gear right at the quarter-mile mark. No matter where you are, though, you get to practice the dying art of heel-and-toe downshifting. The Mustang's pedal spacing makes this easy to do.
Finally, just look at the thing. You can actually tell it's a V8 engine with cylinder heads, an intake manifold and everything! For a modern engine, it's blessedly free of sanitizing plastic wrap.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 3,706 miles