Fantastic speed has never felt so bittersweet.
Guard Green with the standard 18-inch alloys help the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost blend into traffic nicely. Humming along the highway with 32-mpg, you might forget what a honed sportscar the new Mustang is.
But when alone with an endless stretch of road ahead of you, this Mustang turbo delivers excellent results.
A 5.5-second sprint to 60-mph was a hugely gratifying time. Keep it nailed and the EcoBoost Mustang roars ahead at speeds to make the WRX and Scion FR-S blush with embarrassment.
Why all about that pace?
It proves the 2.3-liter, 310-horsepower EcoBoost engine upgrade from the standard 3.7-liter V6 is worthwhile, and up to its task modernising the musclecar drive experience. All this was slightly in doubt after falling in love with — but being underwhelmed by — the pace we could achieve in the built-in Mustang Track Apps 0-60 sprint timer previously.
Turns out our ~6.0-second bests in the Triple Yellow Performance Pack manual were not just operator error. It was the surface! The disused runway also featured in the above video was a big part of the problem. On fresh asphalt, even this fairly base auto EcoBoost was ripping 5.5-second benchmark sprints all day.
The times also show how effective a pairing the turbo is with its six-speed automatic option.
While the limited-production GT350 and GT350R are sucking up many headlines a half-year since the car’s launch, this affordable Mustang I4 Premium is the highlight of the non-V8 range. And a big seller among those who can’t swing V8 prices and running costs.
Let’s dive in to the details of this Mustang EcoBoost Automatic’s exterior design highlights, and performance details and pricing. 90 new photos here and a 4K drive video along the way.
This is as close to base look as the Mustang test cars get for 2015. All models, including the V6, have standard bi-xenon lighting and standard LED daytime running lights. LED fogs and a trunklip spoiler are the only tweaks to the test car over the bone-stock 17-inch-wheeled style of the V6.
So is it a let-down?
Versus every other car on the road? Not at all!
The gorgeous lines of the Mustang shine through even on the ultra-subtle dark green shade here. Only the small wheels and high tire sidewalls lose the HOT look and mood of the sportier models. That, of course, and the GT badge on the trunklid.
Dual exhausts with integrated rear diffuser are still mighty impressive for a base-ish Mustang. This is one detail not included on the standard V6 or EcoBoost — just coming on the EcoBoost Premium or the V8.
A few sacrifices to style on the Mustang’s exterior, however. These include no external release for the trunk (besides the keyfob button), and also missing external unlock keypad from many Fords. The frameless doors and glass B-pillar/rear quarter window just leave no room for the useful Ford features. (More on locking troubles below).
And while Guard Green is perfect for flying under the radar — even while way above the speed limit — it really undersells the Mustang on the road. Without the new triple LED slashes front and rear, you might have trouble knowing this is the new model.
For some, though, this evolution of Highland Green will appeal to their sense of Q-car chic. And while it is a dark color in most lights, there is a terrific gloss and metallic sheen to the color in sunlight.
The EcoBoost Premium with its $29,300 base price is a big cabin and equipment upgrade inside. The extra $4k over the base EcoBoost is put toward standard power leather seats, MyFord Touch, brightwork for the gauge bezels, aluminum sport pedals and fancier dash accents.
LED cabin lighting in a dozen configurable colors, a Homelink garage-door opener, illuminated sills, Mustang globo puddle lights and a variety of other upgrades are also bundled into the Premium trim. Interestingly, the adaptive cruise and $800 Navigation functionality are only optional on the Premium versus the base EcoBoost, as is the $1800 Shaker 12-speaker audio system. SiriuxXM trial and HD radio are also Premium exclusives.
The Shaker audio system is definitely stellar — and sounds great thumping deep all the way to max volume without distortion. Regretfully, it was rattling something in the trunk violently and gave us flashbacks to the 1990s subwoofer craze. A rattly license plate at stoplights in those days was a major buzzkill, and still is.
Anyway. The Premium is the one to go for if you demand the most tech-savvy features. We would skip the Active Security package for $400. It actively locked the keys in the car — and us out — during its visit. No OnStar-style cloud unlocking possible on the Ford if that happens, by the way.
The very desirable Recaro sport seat upgrade is optional on both Mustang turbo models — coming in cloth on the base model, and leather for the Premium.
Finally, into the back seat. As you expect, the legroom in back is minuscule. This is a trait shared with the Camaro, Cadillac ATS Coupe and the BMW 228i as well — but worth considering if you regularly have more than one passenger. The Dodge Charger R/T from $34k with 370HP, by the way, has a giant backseat thanks to its four-door bodystyle. Even the two-door Challenger is pretty giant in back versus the new Mustang.
A lack of driver-side seat folding was also an irritant. No way to pop a backpack inside easily as a result.
How does all this boil down on the road? The features of the EcoBoost Premium are deeply impressive for any pony-car. The adaptive cruise and Shaker audio were fit on the test car, each adding big jumps to the window sticker. Coincidentally, these are the two Premium-only options we would skip to get the best bang for your buck.
We’d put the $3k saved on those options toward the EcoBoost Performance Pack in a heartbeat. (Or, in fact, the V8….. discussed below.)
The reasons are anything but superficial: the Mustang is a vastly better drive with the below upgrades.
At first, we thought this Mustang drove much baggier and looser than the stick-shift due to the automatic transmission. And that is definitely a part of it. But really, the lack of handling sharpness is all up to the missing Performance Pack — which brings the drive manners up to V8 standards or better. The much lighter nose in the turbo versus the V8 helps all the tweaks perform doubly well at buttoning-down the handling, steering and traction setup.
As it was, the automatic was certainly rapid — especially with the recommended Premium fuel — but it was much looser. The whole experience felt much less focused than the Performance Pack car, yet the ride felt about the same in smoothness. The Guard automatic was much wobblier at speed, and even felt a bit spooky on hard throttle. The automatic is massively potent through the rev range, and especially on full throttle passing maneuvers. Keeping the pedal floored lets the turbo boost build nicely in the brief upshift pauses — like you are always flat-floot shifting in the stick. A great surge of power as the next gear engages.
The wheel paddles are also delightful to use for engine braking and locking the car into second or first to slide the tail around on command.
That being said, the drive modes of standard, Sport, Track and Winter are helpful at firming up the steering and throttle response. No setting felt as precise as the stick Perf Pack, however. There is just much more slop in the low-speed manners. It was an unwelcome throwback to old-fashioned musclecars, shimming over bumps with lateral body float galore.
So, despite nailing a mid-5’s sprint by the Track Apps timer, every other aspect of the Mustang EcoBoost Premium Automatic’s drive charm is dulled — drastically.
And at the risk of just slamming the EcoBoost, we had a bit more fun with a V6 Convertible last year. Just five extra ponies separate the V6’s 305HP from the EcoBoost’s 310HP. But at least with the EcoBoost, you do not have to tell people it is a V6 Mustang.
Here is the rub: this anonymous-looking Mustang looks and drives like a base model, but is loaded with tech and priced like a V8.
Not a happy combo if you are power-mad and willing to take the MPG hit of the 5.0-liter unit. From a base price of $30k including destination, the test Mustang added $5700 in options.
A grand total of $35,795 is decent value for a rear-drive sports car loaded with equipment and premium features. Until you think of what you gave up to have leather seats, nav and all that Shaker bass.
But versus the $32,300 base for the GT V8?
We’d happily skip all the EcoBoost Premium features to have the extra 125 horsepower of the GT.
435-ponies through the standard six-speed manual is deeply tempting, even after extensive testing of other engines.
2015 Ford Mustang – Pricing by Trim
Coulda had a V8!
Much as we want to love the EcoBoost as a technical step into the future for the Mustang, the nagging sense of V8 regret is very, very powerful.
On the road, the sloppy road manners of this Guard Green automatic were really underwhelming — particularly versus the very tight and planted Camaro RS V6.
32-mpg on the highway is nice versus the 28-mpg in the V6 or 25 in the V8.
But as a musclecar fan, you’ll never regret the V8 decision — even if you are at the gas station twice as often.
If driving hard is your priority, the V8 is the one to get. Even with a 5.5-second sprint to 60 on the board for the EcoBoost automatic, the car plays its value equation too fast and loose.
The best Mustang trimline has always been thew GT. And despite a 310HP EcoBoost option, the GT is still the one to pick.
Check out the color visualizer below and price out your Mustang over at this Ford builder link.
2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Automatic Review
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.