Update 08-02-06: Read our latest news on the next Mustangs here!
2-15-06:Rumours that engineering mules of the 2009 Mustang have been testing in Arizona have recently surfaced in more than one place. Aimed to hit the market just in time for the 45th anniversary, the new 2009 Mustang has a major challenge ahead with coming competition from GM and Chrysler.
The Dodge Challenger has been given the go-ahead and Camaro is a car that GM just has to build. Ford is working on a new Mustang that is planned to meet that challenge, but there are many hurdles in that. They are budget poor and as history has always shown the Mustang has had few friends in the bean counter department. So a complete ground-up re-design is out. Instead we will see a sweet evolution of the Mustang we have today, but a one that should address the weak points of today’s car and then some.
So what is the 2009 Mustang going to be? More retro? More power? A true coupe? The following words represent our best soothsaying predictions based on market knowledge, our product strategy experience, educated guessing and a little bit of rumour.
2009 Mustang Body and Exterior:
Bold. The 2005 Mustang was openly accepted by the Mustang faithful because of its heritage design , but many die-hard Ford Mustang fans often critique the current car as being a little plain and lacking excitement. Ford reads the web forums, the magazines and the tea leaves. The 2009 Mustang will be more daring and bold in its styling.
We don’t look for the wheelbase and overall dimensions to change much. However more pronounced front and rear flanks combined with a proportionally smaller glass area is sure to make the 2009 Mustang look more “buff“. Retro throwback cues will continue to rule the theme of the car, but 21st century details are going to come back into the mix like projector beam headlights for example. Many Mustang pundits say the car will follow history and evolve toward a ‘69-70 Mustang look. Marketing gurus say the ‘70s are BIG with our Generation Y buyers.
That is who the next Mustang needs to hook in. The 2009 Mustang will be more muscular and bolder in form and is indeed likely to take styling DNA from ‘69 to 70’s models. It will have sharper and pronounced lines that are perhaps more modern however. Up front we certainly see a more contemporary facial expression with menacing eyes. One needs only to see the Camaro and Challenger concepts from the 2006 Detroit Auto Show to see where this could be headed.
Further, the notion that a full-blown notchback coupe is coming is not all that far off. The current convertible Mustang shows that the envelope can work from both a styling and packaging standpoint.
2009 Mustang Engine and Drive-train:
Evolution. The new 3-valve 4.6 litre V8 will likely soldier on as the standard 2009 Mustang GT power plant. It has already proven to be a winner both on the track and on the street. What is sure to be new for Mustang is displacement-on-demand (DOD) technology that will shut down 4 of the 8 cylinders while coasting or cruising at speed.
When you step on the gas, the computer will provide seamless power delivery when the full cylinder count comes back on line. Because of the added efficiency afforded by DOD, a more aggressive tune will be feasible offering up to perhaps 325-340 hp. The 4-valve version of the 4.6 and 5.4 are also likely to return in either supercharged or naturally aspirated forms for higher performance models. A 3-valve 5.4 litre V8 is also a possibility as it is less costly than a supercharged engine with similar power.
For the base power plant in the 2009 Mustang we believe the new 3.5 litre DOHC V6 built in Ohio should replace the decades-old German built 4.0 litre truck engine that the current car uses. The new 24-valve power plant offers more standard power at around 250-260 and is a far more refined and happy revving engine for the Mustang.
Will a six speed transmission ever become standard in the 2009 Mustang? Perhaps, but it is more likely to be a six-speed automatic that is available at first. Unless the competition warrants otherwise, our bet is on the 5-speed manual to stick around except on hi performance models like the Cobra. A true manu-matic sequential gearbox with shift paddles on the wheel is an expensive proposition that might be in the cards for the upper line Cobras, but we aren’t holding our breath.
2009 Mustang Chassis:
The “DEW-lite” chassis the 2005+ Mustang rides on was a significant investment for Ford even though it was derived from the existing floor pan that carried the Lincoln LS, Thunderbird, and Jaguar S-Type. Significant changes had to be made to lighten up both the weight and cost to fit within the Mustang’s needs.
We see an evolution of the current chassis to continue under the new Mustang but with a few key changes. An independent rear suspension (IRS) was initially planned for the 2005 Mustang but notably missing when it arrived on the showroom floors. Why? It costs too much.
While Ford has said that customers “don’t want it”, and that “it is not necessary, blah, blah”, they are well aware that the competition from GM and Chrysler are going to have it. They are aware that customers want it and that it’s a necessity to win over import buyers that would otherwise shop for a Nissan 350Z or other comparable sports cars. Thus, the next Mustang will have IRS if it is to be taken seriously among its peers both stateside and from abroad.
2009 Mustang Interior:
While it has earned high marks in fit and finish, design quality, and overall execution the 2005 Mustang’s interior has been much maligned for its cheap feeling hard plastics. We look for both visual and tactile improvements in the surfaces that the driver touches and has in their immediate sight lines.
A new steering wheel, instrument cluster and door panels should take on a bolder more deeply sculpted theme to compliment the new exterior lines. Bolder, less retro touches with a simpler more “fun” feel will be implemented to help the 2009 Mustang appeal to a younger audience. Think of the interior in the BMW Mini Cooper S. The “My-Colour” instruments will likely see the trash heap as it was a costly and unnecessary feature that in the end was more trouble for Ford than it was worth.
Our impression at this point is that Ford will continue to develop the Mustang in ways that exceed their efforts throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s as the success of the car in the showroom has their attention. While a number of special edition Mustangs will be coming our way in the meantime such as the upcoming 2007/2008 Mach 1, the 2009 Mustang might just be the one to wait for.