Four decades ago, Ford sparked a frenzy when its little sport coupe was unveiled at the New York World's Fair then quickly introduced midyear as a 1964 model. Other U.S. automakers followed suit with such craft as Camaro, Firebird, Barracuda, Charger and Javelin. Only Mustang still stands.
After four decades on the market, Ford’s “pony car” is entering a new generation. Ford introduced the 2005 Mustang at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. Last redesigned in 1999, it’s the last of the traditional rear-wheel-drive pony cars.
The new model’s styling cues are borrowed from Mustangs of the 1960s, but it is built with a new, fully modern architecture. The Mustang comes in a 210 horsepower 4.0-litre V6 engine option and a 4.6-litre modular aluminum-block V8 delivering 300 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque.
The Mustang GT includes fog lights mounted in the grille, giving the GT a similar look to the 1969 Mustang with quad headlights.
The 2005 Mustang gets a choice of engines.
- The new single-overhead-cam 4.0-litre V-6 produces 210 hp.
- A 4.6-litre all-aluminum V-8 in the GT pumps out 300 hp and 315 pounds-feet of torque.
- a standard five-speed manual or
- optional five-speed automatic.
- A true dual exhaust system with 2.5-inch mandrel bent stainless-steel pipes is installed on the Mustang GT.
It has an electronic throttle, three valves per cylinder and variable camshaft timing. It puts out 40 more horsepower than the 2004, and 50 percent more than the comparably sized 289-cubic-inch V-8 that was used in the 1966. The result is a muscular, flexible engine that pulls like a husky and sounds like a classic push-rod V-8, only at a slightly higher pitch. The Mustang is easy to drive, with a seamless uptake to the clutch and a gradual flow of power.
A supercharger seems inevitable (the 2003 Mustang Cobra SVT was powered by a blown 4.6-liter putting out 390 horsepower). In stock configuration, the motor has excellent mid-range torque. It's punchy - "cammy," hot-rodders would say - which means that when it reaches a sweet spot on the tach, about 3,500-4,000 rpm, the car jumps at the prod of the throttle.
According to Ford, the new transmission computer can communicate with the engine electronics ten times faster than in previous versions. The new Tremec 5-speed manual transmission the shifter has a slightly stiff, slightly notchy feel that gives it direct feedback. The shift throws are short and direct and the clutch, light and progressive. The pedals are perfectly placed for heel-and-toe downshifting. Drivers who want comfort over performance will choose the automatic transmission. It's too bad the automatic doesn't have a manual sport-shift feature.
V6 Deluxe 210-horsepower is $US19,410
V6 Premium is $US19,995
V8 GT Deluxe 300-horsepower is $US24,995
V8 GT Premium is $US26,330.
Built on a 107.1-inch wheelbase, the 2005 Mustang is 187.6 inches long overall and 54.5 inches tall. The car’s signature long hood and short deck remain. The new coupe features a classic fastback profile. The new Mustang is a wonderful mix of retro chic and modern angularity. The fastback exterior carries design cues from the 1967-1970 models, yet it is totally fresh and muscular.
There are many nods to the original styling. Check out the honeycomb grille with galloping mustang emblem; tri-bar taillights; side contours that evoke faux air scoops; and rear quarter windows like those on the Shelby performance cars. While certain design elements such as the forward-leaning grille and the C-pillar windows are draw from early Mustangs, the 2005 is a modern car with the wheels pushed out to the corners and short front and rear overhangs.
The new chassis is stiff and the steering excellent, with good on-center feel, precise turn-in and consistency through corners. The overall handling inspires confidence, with very little body roll and a balanced feel that remains consistent—even on irregular pavement. Despite the rigid chassis and improved handling the ride is not rough; the new Mustang easily absorbs bumps for a comfortable ride while cruising.
Mustangs seat four occupants on front and rear bucket seats. Three design themes will be available, and they include what Ford says is the industry’s first color-configurable instrument panel, which can display more than 125 different background colors.
Aluminum dashboard trim panels can be installed. Chrome-ringed air vents are aligned across the dashboard precisely in line with the large barrel-style gauges. The three-spoke steering wheel has a black hub with the Mustang horse and tri-color logo. An optional Color Accent Package features charcoal with red leather seats, red door inserts and red floormats.
Standard equipment includes power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, interval wipers and a heated rear window. A CD player is standard, but audio options extend all the way to a 1,000-watt Shaker Audiophile system. Trunk space amounts to 12.3 cubic feet.
Still, space is tight up front, and the back seat should be reserved only for short hops when occupied by small people. With the driver's seat pushed all the way back, forget about it.
The 50-50 split rear seatbacks fold forward to open up the cargo space to the car's interior.
Options included an interior upgrade package with leather, chrome and aluminum trim, $US450; front-seat side airbags, $US370; anti-theft system, $US255; interior color upgrade of red seats and accents, $US175; wheel locking kits, $US50.
There is no air-bag coverage for rear-seat passengers, a distressing oversight. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard on the GT, but $US775 extra on the base model.
Optional on the Deluxe and standard on the Premium trim level is an upgraded Shaker 500 stereo with 500 peak watts, an in-dash six-CD changer and MP3 playback capability. Optional on all models is the Shaker 1000 stereo, which adds to the 500 version another 500 peak watts and two subwoofers.
A wide variety of colors, ranging from Lime Green, a very popular color in the '60s, to a bright lemon yellow—a color only possible with today's modern paint technology. The car looks great in every color.
The Mustang’s suspension consists of MacPherson struts in the front and a three-link live axle with a Panhard rod at the rear. Aluminum-spoked wheels hold 17-inch tires on the GT, but the base V-6 Mustang gets 16-inch rubber.
The front suspension utilizes steel lower control arms manufactured with a new technology that makes them lighter than comparable cast aluminum arms. A firm bushing is used to connect the front of the suspension arm, which improves steering response.
The rear suspension works well, but the design is the most controversial aspect of the new car. Ford decided to carry over the live rear axle from previous-generation Mustangs rather than replace it with an independent rear suspension—Ford claims previous Mustang owners requested the retention of the live axle, but it was mostly likely a cost-saving measure.
The 2005 Mustang rear suspension has a sophisticated three-link configuration that incorporates a central control arm at the top of the differential housing, trailing arms near each end of the axle and a Panhard rod parallel to the axle. The Panhard rod is attached to the body and to the axle to control the axle from moving side-to-side. While the solid axle may not soak up bumps quite as well as an independent rear suspension, the Mustang's design remains composed and confident.