The 2016 Mustang is in the second year of its sixth generation. It was a smash re-make for 2015, with a detailed exterior and interior, and excellent technology including leaps in electronic controls for steering, throttle, transmission, and stability. As well as safety, as winning five stars in all tests by the NHTSA, and Good ratings from the IIHS.
The Mustang comes in coupe and convertible versions.
The redesign brought the EcoBoost twin-turbo four-cylinder engine into the lineup, and now the iconic Shelby GT350, with a high-revving 5.2-liter 500-horsepower V8, available with a Torsen limited-slip differential, big wheels with Brembo brakes, and aero mods. It boasts the debut of Ford’s MagneRide magnetic suspension. Now the Mustang Convertible is also available with that Performance Package.
For the most part, 2016 changes are all in available razzle-dazzle: new wheels and hood striping, a black roof, and new packages: California Special Package, Pony Package, and Black Accent Package.
A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, with paddle-shifting 6-speed automatic optional.
The standard V6 with automatic is EPA-rated at 22 mpg Combined city and highway. The EcoBoost four-cylinder is rated 26 mpg Combined; and the 5.0-liter V8 at 19 mpg. The Shelby GT350 isn’t rated, but who cares?
Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment comes in 2016. It basically rewrites the previous Ford system, a good thing we think.
You can get the Mustang in the V6 coupe ($23,800) or convertible ($29,300) or the V8 GT coupe ($32,300) or convertible ($41,800). The EcoBoost engine replacing the standard V6 adds $1500.
The Shelby GT350 is $47,795, which might be a low price considering how well it does in its rarified field. (All prices are MSRP.)
Then there are the packages, from Black to Pony to Performance to California Special. Standalone options, such as the Shaker Pro audio, are also available.
With all new sheetmetal for 2015, the Mustang endures as unmistakably Mustang, with muscular yet graceful lines on a low and wide stance, and Mustang cues all around. The fastback sweep from the late ’60s Boss 302 is back.
The Mustang commands stares with its presence, but if you look too hard or too long you will begin to wonder. Thin pillars will make you think of a Pontiac Grand Prix two-door. The panel around the taillamps channels Mopar. Triple light pipes in the headlamps would be at home in the ’70s.
There are two cool appearance packages. Black Accent has 19-inch black alloys, a black spoiler, dark taillamp trim, and pony badging. If you want to go all the pony way, there is the Pony Package, with chrome that tries to turn your Mustang into a time machine that takes you back to the early days. We’ll take black. With titanium paint. Striking.
The Convertible is now available with the Performance Package, making a very special car. The multi-layer insulated top is classy and quiet. No desire to go back to the old days of flapping canvas and freezing inside, not to mention manual labor.
The cabin is young, and richer than the Camaro, with better ergonomics. Tactile knobs and switches are airplane-like, well organized, neatly fitted. The gauges are large and deep.
The Mustang is the size of a Ford Fusion with the layout of a 2+2, so there’s more space inside than a Camaro, although we wonder where it goes. The back seats are tokens, and the trunk is not good for much more than weekends. But there’s good room in the front, and with the optional Recaro seats it gets racy.
The redesign vastly improved the steering, ride and comfort of the Mustang, to the point where it outclasses the Camaro in those areas. Finally with an independent rear suspension to replace the venerable live axle, a strong limited-slip differential, and standard 18-inch wheels, the Mustang is nimble, forgiving and flat.
Base engine is a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 300 horsepower. Nowadays those numbers from a V6 are common, but it’s still impressive. Not long ago you needed a V8 for good power, but now you only need one for super power. The irony is that 300 horsepower might not be appealing enough in the Mustang, competing with the heat of the 310-hp 2.3-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder, and the thunder of the 435-hp 5.0-liter V8.
The EcoBoost four can do zero to 60 in under six seconds, as the kick from 320 pound-feet of torque comes early. But the engine feels buzzy, not at all beefy like a V8, and the feeling is exacerbated by the artificial amplified sound coming through the speakers. That’s right: fake engine noise piped through the audio system. We think Ford should try again with the acoustics.
We buzzed through Los Angeles traffic and over Malibu canyons, in a four-cylinder with the paddle-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission, using the available driving modes. We had to, because the normal mode had too much throttle lag. In Sport mode the throttle and transmission response is sharp.
If you like the four-cylinder’s 320 foot-pounds of torque, you’ll love the V8’s 400, not to mention its zero to 60 time of 4.5 seconds or its top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited). But even the V8 doesn’t grumble like we’re used to. It’s like that visceral V8 feel that comes from the rumble of the exhaust is isolated. We’ll take the similar Jaguar 5.0-liter V8.
For the track, the Performance Package offers a Torsen LSD, Brembo four-piston brakes, Pirelli P Zero tires (255/40R19 front, 275/40R19 rear), as well stiffer anti-roll bars, springs, dampers and strut towers. , and stiffens up the sway bars, springs, and dampers. It sticks to corners and handles at well as the BMW M3, and maybe even better than the M4.
The Mustang V6 has come a long way baby, with 300 horsepower and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The GT will always be a Ford V8, except not always because its sound is stifled. The EcoBoost is the future. All of the new Mustangs handle and look great.