2015 V6 Mustang - Still Just A Rental Car?
For years the V6 Mustang has been the ugly stepchild of the Mustang lineup. Mustang fan-boys will go on to say “It’s not a real Mustang unless it’s the GT” or “Pony cars only have V8s”. To which I respond “Why?”. So when I reached out to David to drive his V6 Mustang for the day, it made me quite excited.
When David bought his car, he wanted to know how much car you can get from the Mustang lineup at entry-level cost. This is the base Mustang. When Ford advertises the Mustang starting at $24,145, this is the car they are talking about.
Upon first impression, the ride is smooth and absorbs most of the bumps in the road. For everyday commuting, it feels right at home. The cloth seats are soft, yet supportive. More so than I was expecting from a $25k domestic product. Yes, leather seats can feel nice, but I personally don’t find them necessary like others do. Compared to the interiors from other American car companies, this feels well sorted and coherent. The buttons were in easy reach and I never felt lost navigating the functions. Plus, in the base car you still get a backup camera and Bluetooth audio.
Unlike its younger brother, the V6 doesn’t pull as hard as the Ecoboost at higher rpm. Once you get above 5,500 rpm, the engine just dies away. Peak torque (270 lb. ft.) comes on at 3,500 rpm, and peak horsepower (300 hp) comes at just a hair above 6,000. But by the time you’re hitting 6000 rpm, your torque is crashing in a ball of fire. Sure, you can rev to well over 6,500 rpm, but it serves no real purpose. So if you find yourself behind the wheel, just drive between 3-5,000 rpm and you’ll be a happy camper.
The engine didn’t ever surprise me with actual performance, but the sound of it had definite presence. With this Mustang in particular, the muffler was actually removed, and the exhaust pipe was given the 4” tip treatment from Simple Performance. The exhaust work was definitely a highlight to driving this car. Any time I drove under an overpass, passed a biker, or drove next to a wall, I felt the need to roll down the windows, and downshift at least a gear or two to hear the raw 3.7 liter V6.
The gear shifter and gearbox feel great with a very notchy feel. This Mustang takes notes from Honda in its delivery of very crisp and notched throws. Like in the Ecoboost, the clutch prefers to be driven hard. When you’re hustling through the canyon, or in a hurry to get up to freeway speeds, the clutch pedal is happy and in its comfort zone. But when you are driving around town, it can be tedious persona due to its on/off characteristics that demand extra attention. That aspect was tricky to get around initially, but I got used to it.
Unlike in the Ecoboost and GT, you only get one driving mode. Normal. Quite frankly, that is a strike against the car. You get performance gimmicks such as a 0-60 timer, 60-0 timer for braking, etc. But, there aren’t any different modes for suspension stiffness, throttle mapping, or anything else. Once in the canyons, this became more irritating. It’s not that the car isn’t capable either. There just isn’t any given way to improve steering feel or chassis rigidity.
The brakes were another hard-driving liability. Driving this car around town and in traffic, they are fine and predictably stiff like many new cars. But when applying the brakes for a fast corner it becomes damn near impossible to heel-toe. Any amount of rotation with your foot on the brake pedal and the balance of the car is ruined and thrown onto the nose as if you stood on the brakes. Having brakes this sensitive and lacking in feel really undermines the canyon carving experience for me.
On sharp canyon corners there is significant body lean, and the electronic steering rack gives absolutely zero feedback as to what the front wheels are doing. The lean comes from a non-sporty suspension and tires with thick sidewalls. I’m reminded that this car is typically sold to three different demographics:
1. Rental Fleets
2. People who aren’t car enthusiasts, but want a Mustang because it’s iconic..
3. People like David who want a base Mustang as a place to build from.
Going into this review, I really wanted to like the V6 Mustang. After hearing the hate thrown at the car, I wanted to root for it as an underdog. But the 4 cylinder Ecoboost comes with more power, a better torque-curve, and is better equipped in base form. To be honest, it just doesn’t make sense to buy the V6 option. If your budget tops out at twenty-five thousand, there are better ways to spend your money.