The Ford Mustang – an American icon of muscle car performance and style – has lost its swagger in recent years. Even with the return of the 5.0L engine the Mustang just couldn’t compete with the stylish new Chevy Camaro. Ford is hoping that a more aggressive looking Shelby-esque bumper cover and grille and a list of smart features for the 2013 Mustang, signal renewed life popular pony car before the redesigned 2014 50th Anniversary Mustang goes on sale.
This is not the first time Ford Motor Company has copied over design features from a Shelby Mustang. The rear quarter windows that first appeared in the 1966 Shelby GT350 became a standard feature on the 2005-2012 Ford Mustangs. The 1969-1970 Shelby GT350 & GT500 (built by Kar Kraft Engineering) feature a long front fenders and open grille, styling cues that Ford used from 1971-1973. Rear brake scoops from the Shelby Mustangs became faux copies on the 1969 Spoortsroof Mustangs. Dual racing stripes? Yep, you can thank good ‘ol Carroll Shelby for those “Le Mans” stripes. The question is can Shelby save the Mustang again?
More aggressive design
The new model Mustang, which goes on sale in spring (April) 2012, offers a more aggressive design with a significantly more prominent grille. A more powerful splitter adds to that appearance. Functional heat extractors on the hood of the GT were specifically placed and designed to help move hot air out of the engine compartment and cool the engine. The honeycomb still grille design gives a nod to the 1965 and 1973 Mach 1 grilles that used a similar pattern.
“We are delivering a more distinctive and emotional design presence that celebrates the total performance of Mustang,” said Darrell Behmer, Mustang chief designer. “This latest Mustang design is very respectful of its heritage while continuing to look forward with a more powerful and modern look.”
Rocker panels running along the car are now body-color, making for a more premium appearance. The rear tail panel is now high-gloss black instead of body colored. Ford is keeping the sequential turn signal tri-tail lights that the Mustang is known for, The are recessed and LED ring in a manner that mimics the rival Camaro tail lights.
Also new for Mustang design are standard high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps on both V6 and GT cars. Signature lighting plays into the technology upgrades for 2013 as well, with two individual light-emitting diode (LED) bars accentuating the front headlamps and three LED ropes forming the iconic three-bar rear lights.
The new Mustang offers a revamped wheel lineup, ranging from the standard 17-inch wheels for V6 all the way up to 19-inch optional wheels on the GT and V6 Performance Package. With updated designs, the wheels also offer new finishes and touches for a more powerful appearance.
There are two different finishes on the 17-inch wheel – machined-aluminum and painted. Three optional V6 wheels include an 18-inch polished aluminum set, an updated 18-inch painted aluminum and a 19-inch painted wheel design, with a new theme for the V6 Performance Package.
The standard 18-inch painted aluminum wheel on both GT and premium GT is an evolution of the five-spoke design. The 19-inch optional GT wheel comes with a gloss-black finish with machined face for a more sinister look.
The new car also offers mirrors with pony projection light, which casts the image of Mustang’s famous pony emblem on the ground when the unlock button is activated (think Batman). New colors – Deep Impact Blue and Gotta Have It Green – join the existing sporty colors for 2013.
Also new on V6 and GT are optional leather-trimmed or cloth Recaro® seats that are currently available on the Shelby GT500 and Boss 302. Designed to enhance the high-performance driving experience, lateral bolsters in the cushion and seatback are used to ensure drivers have the support needed on the track during hard cornering and to deliver a comfortable ride.
The seats also come complete with integrated head restraints with ample room for drivers and passengers wearing helmets when at the track. Openings on the seatback are included for customers looking to create performance setups for their car on track days. The Recaro seats are the result of a global team effort led by SVT along with the Mustang engineering group in North America, Team RS in Europe and Recaro.
New driving technologies
The 2013 Mustang with 5.0-liter engine will now deliver 420 horsepower, up from 412 ponies. Based on learnings from developing the high-output 444-horsepower 2013 Mustang Boss 302, the team was able to adapt several of the designs to the 5.0-liter.
The new Mustang can be specified with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission. This advanced control strategy offers the driver a choice between fully automatic operation and manual control. The system is controlled with a selector button on the side of the shifter. The shifter has been upgraded for 2013 with more modern style and improved accessibility.
“This lets owners take an automatic out on a track day or whenever they want to drive sportier, and lets them have the convenience of switching to manual control,” said Tom Barnes, Mustang vehicle engineering manager. “It’s a significant improvement to our powertrain offerings that lets the driver take control.”
This capability makes the Mustang experience sporty yet smooth. Unlike some competitors’ transmissions, SelectShift won’t second-guess the driver with an override shift. With SelectShift, manual control is truly manually controlled.
A new option, the GT Track Package, debuts for 2013 for customers who want to push their Mustang even further at the track. Available only on manual GT Mustangs with a 3.73 axle, the package gives track enthusiasts an engine cooler, upgraded radiator, performance friction brake pads and the same Torsen® differential that’s on Mustang Boss 302. The package includes everything in the current Brembo™ Brake Package, with 14-inch vented front discs, unique 19-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires.
Other optional package updates for 2013 include offering the Brembo Brake Package on both manual and automatic transmissions on Mustang GT. The V6 Performance Package is now available on automatic Mustangs for the first time.
Hill start assist makes its debut on manually equipped Mustangs. This feature helps keep the car from rolling backward, making it easier to pull away when on a slope or hill. With the brake pedal pressed, if sensors detect the car is on a slope, the system is automatically activated. Brake pressure is held in the braking system and the car remains stationary on the slope for up to two seconds after the driver releases the brake pedal.
A new 4.2-inch LCD productivity screen that lets customers access information related to fuel economy and vehicle performance also makes its debut on Mustang. The screen is navigated through a five-way control button located on the steering wheel and offers Track Apps, which delivers performance metrics for drivers right from the factory. The app measures g forces, shows acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-60 increments, and displays braking times, complete with automatic and countdown starts.
The 2013 Mustang also offers customers two new audio systems for even better sound quality for incredible clarity and crispness. The optional Shaker™ system comes with eight speakers and pumps out 370 watts of power. The upgraded Shaker Pro offers nine speakers and delivers 550 watts of power.
The 2013 Ford Mustang will continue to be built at AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.