Inside, loads of tech and efficient use of space

On the inside, circular gauges, plus knobs and controls that give tactile feedback
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DETROIT -- The Ford Mustang is all about the visceral driving thrills of the open road, not the newest electronic gizmos. But Ford says the new generation of prospective Mustang owners is eager for the high-tech systems introduced in other Ford vehicles, such as the Fusion.

"The newer customers said they wanted the latest technology," says Steve Ling, Ford's U.S. car marketing manager.

So with the 2015 Mustang, Ford is opening the technology floodgates.

All 2015 Mustangs will come with push-button start. Ford will offer other systems including blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert and selectable driving modes that include normal, sport, track and snow and rain.

The Mustang will be the first mainstream Ford offered with launch control, an electronic system that helps drivers launch from a standing start on a racetrack or on the street. Ford has offered launch control, but only on the limited production Shelby GT500.

The Mustang is the last Ford brand car nameplate in the United States without the much-maligned MyFord Touch infotainment system available. That's about to change. The new car will get the latest version.

Lest Mustang fans think the new pony car will be overloaded with digital gadgetry, they needn't worry, says J Mays, Ford's chief design officer who is retiring at year end.

"This is an analog car. It's not a digital car," he said last week on the sidelines of the Mustang unveiling in Dearborn, Mich.

Below the MyFord Touch screen will be two large knobs for controlling the volume and tuning of the radio. Toggle switches that select the driving modes will operate with a satisfying, tactile click-click, he says. The instrument panel will be dominated by two large aircraft-inspired circular gauges.

Carrying on with the aircraft theme, the dash will have a molded aluminum panel in the shape of a wing that runs from above the glove box to the instrument bezels.

Ford will use soft-touch materials on the door panels and seats.

Previous Mustangs have been criticized for inefficient use of space, says Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer.

For instance, customers who bought the Mustang GT with the high-end sound system couldn't put two golf bags in the back because the subwoofer intruded, he says.

But Ford spent a lot of time on efficient use of space, Pericak says, and now those golfers can take their clubs to the course.

Map pockets and cubbyholes will be expanded, and there will be room for other things, he says.

"Believe it or not, there is no place to put sunglasses" in the current car, an omission Pericak says will be fixed on the new car.

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.

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