The 2010 Mustang has been re-engineered and restyled--the pony car's first major change since the 2005 model.
"This car is a modern interpretation of the Mustang heritage," Doug Gaffka, the Mustang's chief designer, said at a media briefing this month in Dearborn, Mich. "That is what we want to get across to everyone."
The 2010 message also is about refinement in terms of ride, handling, steering, braking, vibration and noise level -- and especially the look and feel of the Mustang's interior, a hot-button issue with some Mustang enthusiasts.
"It is about upgrading materials, craftsmanship. There is real aluminum on the instrument panel. The fit and finish is so much better," said Gaffka.
For example, the new center console flows up to the edge of the redesigned instrument panel, engineered to look as if the elements are one piece.
The 2010 Mustang line has three models: a coupe, a coupe with a glass roof and a convertible. All the sheet metal except for the fastback roof is new.
The car's front styling features new headlamps and grille, lowered fascias and fenders, and a raised power dome hood, collectively designed to create "a very sort of sinister look," says George Saridakis, senior exterior designer.
There also is a lot more shape on the body side, said Gaffka. "We tucked everything in, wrapped it in tighter to the components."
One striking change is that the car's beltline was lowered.
"I think that lets the car settle on its rear wheels and give it the look that it wants to leap and move forward," said Gaffka.
Overall, the 2010 Mustang is more aerodynamic. The V-8-powered GT coupe has a 7 percent improvement in aerodynamics--the result of changes including the new front-end styling, the addition of a belly pan, the removal of the windshield wash nozzles from the hood and the redesign of the outside mirrors.
Wind noise on the coupe has been reduced 12 percent. The interior noise level also was reduced.
Tom Barnes, vehicle engineer manager, says the 2010 Mustang GT "is superior to the outgoing car in every respect." For example, Ford stiffened the springs, increasing the damping on the shocks and struts.
"What that enables us to do is that we have a very flat ride," Barnes says. "When you are turning, the car stays flatter. If you are braking, it stays flatter or during acceleration stays flatter."
The base GT now outperforms the 2009 Mustang Bullitt, one of the Mustang's performance versions.
Horsepower on the 4.6-liter V-8 is boosted to 315 from 300 on the 2009 model. Torque is 325 pounds-feet, up from 320. The engine runs on unleaded regular gasoline, although premium fuel gives the engine a boost in midrange torque. The 4.9-liter V-6 engine is unchanged.
New options include a navigation system, Sync and a rear-mounted camera. Standard equipment on all versions includes stability control, antilock brakes and traction control. Mustang production begins late in the first quarter.
(Source: Automotive News)