Headed for Hotlanta
Blasting down the highway in a Triple Yellow S550 bound for the NMRA
By Steve Turner
It had been a hot minute since yours truly was behind the wheel of a 2015 Mustang GT. In fact, it had been far too long. Sadly, I donâ€™t have one of these machines in the driveway just yet, so snagging the keys to one for a week was a treat. Scheduling the car for the week around the NMRA Ford Nationals race outside Atlanta, Georgia, was part of the plan. The 7-plus-hour drive would provide plenty of opportunity to get a feel for what the car would be like as a daily driver.
The first thing you notice about driving a Triple Yellow S550 is that it gets looks. This shouldnâ€™t really be a surprise, though. Itâ€™s fresh styling and bright paint make for a fetching combo, and the cars still arenâ€™t commonplace enough that people are bored by seeing them. The first stop after acquiring the car was a local college with a really unique building on campus, and the people still on hand didnâ€™t bat an eye as I set up and shot the car on the campus. It was as if a car like this deserves some special treatment.
Most of my S550 experience was in Performance Pack-equipped cars with Recaro seating. Certainly this is a good problem to have, but it was great to spend some time in a car with a standard suspension and seats. The seats are relatively supportive in the turns, and the suspension does pretty well too. Neither the suspension nor the seats are as grippy as their Performance Pack cousins, but they might just be a bit more livable for daily use.
The day after snapping the photos you see here we had a trip to SCT Performance on the schedule. This meant traveling through Orlando, Florida, during Spring Break time, so the traffic was even denser than usual. Being a manual-trans car, this meant having the opportunity to see how lots of clutch work treated a calf muscle. It actually wasnâ€™t too bad. With a forgiving clutch, hill assist, and V-8 torque, the 2015 Mustang is a lot more livable in traffic than its predecessors.
In the midst of our other testing at SCT, our friend Matt Alderman was kind enough to strap down the GT to one of the companyâ€™s in-house Dynojets to see what kind of power it was putting down to the pavement. After the second pull, we couldnâ€™t believe our eyes. It pumped out 400 horsepower and 379 lb-ft of torque in stock form. Neither of us had ever seen those kind of numbers from a stock 2015 Mustang, so the new engines must really like being broken in. This example had over 9,500 hard miles from unforgiving auto scribes on the clock and it liked it!
On the way back I made a point of leaning on the car to enjoy those 400 horses, and it felt good. Donâ€™t get me wrong. The latest Mustang GT is a fun car. However, it reminded me how power-jaded Iâ€™ve become over the years. There was a time when a car with 400 horsepower was serious business. Now it just feels pretty good. My how times have changed.
What has also changed is the Mustang is all grown up these days. The new suspension with its double-ball-joint front and IRS rear is definitely an upgrade in the turns. It puts down the power quite well, and the base brakes are essentially what Cobras used to run and they work well to reel things in as well. Even the remote-shifting MT-82 has gotten a bit more precise over the years. It still doesnâ€™t offer the precision most of us would like, but itâ€™s not bad.
It was a true pleasure wheeling the car up to the NMRA race and back, and I felt right at home in the latest Mustang. When I arrived at the event, one of the staff complemented me on the car and tried to direct me to the car show to show it off. Thatâ€™s not something you often get when driving a stock Mustang.
All told, a week with the new Mustang was too short. The car pulled down around 23 mpg in mixed driving. It looked and felt great doing it, as well. In short, the time put me in a better headspace for what kind of 2015 Mustang Iâ€™d want for a project. If I could, I would definitely start with a Premium GT and level up the performance from the aftermarket, but I like all the toys.
Of course, those toys donâ€™t cheap. This Premium GT carried an additional $6,565 in options, including navigation, adaptive cruise control, reverse park assist, Triple Yellow paint, and, of course, the one-year-only anniversary package. The grand total on the window sticker was $42,665, which is about what my loaded GT500 stickered at back in 2008. Granted you are getting a lot of car these days, and you donâ€™t have to check all those boxes. The base sticker price was $36,100, so choose those options wisely.