DETROIT -- The Mustang's formula for success for 50 years has been basically this: good looks coupled with low-tech powertrains and suspension systems and an attractive starting price.
When the redesigned 2015 Mustang goes on sale globally in early 2015, the good looks will remain, but the technology will make a dramatic leap into the 21st century. There's no word yet on prices, but every new Mustang has been more expensive than the last, and the sixth generation is the most technically sophisticated yet.
Ford officials dodged questions about the new Mustang's overall weight. The 2015 car will have an aluminum hood and fenders, but any weight savings there might be canceled out by the new suspension system and revamped interior, which will add features and higher quality materials. Ford has said that its goal is to reduce vehicle weight at each redesign.
Frank Davis, Ford's North American engineering director, says everything from the tone of the exhaust to the tuning of the independent rear suspension system has been geared to enable the Mustang to seriously compete with BMWs and Porsches.
Three cars, he says, were benchmarks for the 2015 Mustang: the Porsche 911, BMW M3 and last year's Mustang Boss 302.
Here's a look at Ford's efforts to improve the 2015 Mustang's cachet among global buyers.
Suspension system: The live rear axle that has been part of every regular production Mustang since 1964 -- and used today mostly on trucks -- will be replaced with a compact independent rear suspension system mounted in a subframe that attaches to the rear of the car.
The advantage: Each rear tire can react individually to the road surface, and tire grip is improved in high-speed cornering.
Says Davis: "The chassis team is very, very good. They took the live axle as far as it could go. But we really wanted to take a huge leap forward and be world class."
The disadvantage: The independent rear suspension has more moving parts and is usually heavier and more expensive than a live axle.
The front suspension uses MacPherson struts and, in a first for Mustang, two ball joints. The result is a quieter ride on bumpy roads, Davis says.