2015 Ford Mustang GT: We Got the Right Car
June 26, 2015
Recently there's been some grumbling by staffers that maybe, just maybe, we didn't order the right 2015 Ford Mustang GT. James Riswick thinks we shouldn't have opted for the GT Performance Package. Ron Montoya says he'd skip the Recaros. Kurt Niebuhr says he won't drive the car because it's orange.
Apparently everyone around here is entitled to their own opinions.
As for me, I enjoy driving this new Mustang GT, whether I'm running errands around town, cruising down the highway and even when I'm stuck in traffic. Sure, the gearing is short and the brakes can feel touchy at first, but once you get used to them they're no big deal. Recently I took the Mustang GT on one of my favorite mountain roads, and I fell in love with it even more.
It's all in the way you approach the car. If you're looking for the Mustang to be a seriously sporting machine, as I do, the GT Performance Package delivers with flying colors. Even if you don't like orange.
If you're thinking the Mustang should be more of a cruiser, and you might never purposely attack a twisty road, don't order the Performance Package.
But for this car to perform the way I want it to, it needs those upgraded brakes, the stiffer suspension, sticky summer tires and the ultra-supportive Recaro seats. Particularly without the suspension and tire upgrades, the Mustang GT feels a bit sloppy and ponderous around corners, as we learned.
On the other hand, when I did an early-morning strafing run up a thoroughly twisty two-lane, all those aforementioned "good" pieces came together, working in perfect concert. I was almost shocked how well it worked.
It was tied down and precise, even though it was running on fairly worn tires thanks to this guy. I was most impressed by the front grip. You can dive deep into corners and the front end just flat sticks. The level of feedback through the steering wheel tells you exactly what the front tires are up to, and on the way back out the right-now power from the 5.0-liter V8 lets you play with rear grip.
And that 435-horsepower five-liter is flexible. Exit a corner around 3,000-3,500 rpm? It's okay; it's got 400 pound-feet of torque to pull you back out. Yet it's plenty happy when you wind it out to redline.
I don't love the six-speed manual's linkage, as it can feel balky at times and doesn't deliver the robust feel I crave. But the pedals are spaced nicely for heel-and-toe downshifts, and that's important when you wick up the pace on a back road.
I even had a short battle with a guy on a Yamaha R1 sportbike. He caught up to me early on when I was just settling into things, so I thought, "Let's see what this guy has." I also wanted to see what the Mustang had. The Mustang had more. Especially through the tightest stuff, I was able to pull away and put a serious gap on the guy. I had to work for it a little bit, but I hadn't even started fooling around with the different stability control settings yet.
That rider, that bike, that day, the Mustang and its four big contact patches was the better weapon. Some other rider, some other day — who knows? Still kinda wonder what was going on underneath his helmet: Was he impressed with the Mustang? Or frustrated that he couldn't keep up?
Regardless, throughout the morning the Mustang performed even better than I hoped or expected. The brakes never showed a hint of fade despite heavy use on the downhill sections. And at 3,796 pounds, this isn't exactly a light car.
Only on a couple of high-speed bumpy bits did the Mustang hint that things could get ugly in a hurry. It got slightly out of shape and the suspension lost its composure. Nope, still not perfect. But it's damn good most of the time, at least in the way I like to use the car.
But here's the thing: You don't need to drive the Mustang in total anger to enjoy it. Even when I'm not on a fun road, it makes each drive exciting and something to look forward to. And isn't that what it's all about?
Mike Monticello, Senior Road Test Editor @ 7,361 miles