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Ford's 2015 Mustang Debuts, Goes Global

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NEW YORK: “We know there is a global audience for Mustangs,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s Scotland-born executive design director. And that’s why this Manhattan shindig was just one of a bunch of events for the 2015 car, which goes on sale next fall. You could also celebrate the new Mustang (born nearly 50 years ago at the New York World’s Fair) in Los Angeles, Shanghai, Sydney, Barcelona and Dearborn, Michigan.

The 2015 Mustang GT Convertible meets the press. (Jim Motavalli photo)The car, with Mustang’s first-ever independent rear suspension, is pretty cool looking, lower and more aggressive than the model it replaces. The ‘Stang will be available in convertible (the one we saw) and fastback versions, and there will be base models and GTs. Buyers will have a choice of three engines, including the expected 3.7-liter turbo (300 horsepower) and 5.0 V-8 (420 horsepower). It would be amazing if those engines weren’t offered.

But the big news here is the third engine, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four that Ford said would actually offer more power than the V-6—a projected 305 horsepower. Ford hasn’t shoehorned a four into a Mustang since the ill-fated Mustang II circa 1974. Depending on the car's weight and (improved) aerodynamics, highway MPG in the 30s seems possible. As I mentioned, the clubs were out in force, and I got the skinny from Michael Dobriner, a mainstay of the Mustang and Shelby Club of Long Island (and the proud owner, for 10 years now, of a cherry 1966 2+2 fastback).

Aggressive, isn't it? The Mustang has no bumper overhang. (Jim Motavalli photo)“I love the new one,” Dobriner told me. “It’s absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could buy one, but I’m on a fixed income.” We don’t have pricing yet, but Ford told me that at least entry-level models will be “affordable,” whatever that means these days.

Dobriner’s friend Perry Loskamp, is a long-time Mustang restorer and owns a ’64 convertible that was special ordered by Henry Ford II. He’s happy too. “It’s about as sleek and aggressive-looking as I could have hoped for,” he said. “I want to get in it and just drive.”

The tail has echoes of Mustangs past, but it's not a retro car--the aim is mainstream appeal. (Jim Motavalli photo)Unfortunately, they didn’t let us get in it and just drive. The GT convertible was a static display. They wouldn’t even let us sit in it! But since the top was down, we could see the interior very nicely—it’s tasteful, with a lot of aluminum and matte finishes. There are eyeball vents and analog gauges, which Mustang people like. Another Mustang tradition (see below) is absolutely zero rear legroom.

The interior is great--as long as you're in the front seat. Rear passengers are better off without legs. (Jim Motavalli photo)Callum acknowledged “it’s not a full four seater,” more of a 2+2, but even little kids would be better off if they were legless. This is a car for double-income-no-kids-yet (DINK) young couples, or single folk. A Ford guy told me the rear-seat-as-parcel-shelf thing is “typical of Mustangs.” He added, “It’s a sports car.”

Jacques Brent, group marketing manager for the car, said that there’s no single demographic for the Mustang—its fans crave “freedom and independence” and value “experience over assets.” Mustang has five million Facebook followers, and half of them are outside the U.S. There are 50 Mustang clubs outside the U.S., too, so maybe this car really will sell in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Alan Mulally: One of America's most intense (and effective) executives. (Jim Motavalli photo)Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally was in the room, but for some reason didn’t speak. I buttonholed him anyway and had a short audience. He’s an intense fellow, and grips your arm while talking to you. “There are three quotes I have for you about the Mustang,” he said. “Are you ready?”

I was. Here are the three quotes, which he made me read back for accuracy:

“The new Mustang pony is out of the corral to serve worldwide.”

“The Mustang is clearly an American icon.”

“There’s a global passion for this American icon.”

Gotcha, thanks Alan. Later Thursday, after Mulally said he was not leaving for Microsoft, that company’s stock fell four percent. Here's the Mustang on video:


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