Ford has regained some momentum in the pony car wars, but diehard Mustang fans will have to wait until 2015 for an all-new model to take aim at Chevrolet’s resurrected Camaro.
It’s a long wait but there could be some much – and long-awaited – good news coming with that complete update, including the shift to independent rear suspension.
Our veteran spy photographer, Jim Dunne appears to have lent credence to those earlier reports with a pair of spy shots he’s nabbed of a Ford Mustang mule that is here seen testing the next-generation pony car’s suspension.
At least that’s the impression you get from this rear view of the Ford Mustang test vehicle.
Taillights, upper panels and license mount are the same as current Mustangs, so why cut out the lowest panel? A quick reading of the underside of the car reveals a missing part – the rounded differential, a common fixture of solid axle drive designs.
Reports in the press indicate that Mustang will upgrade this muscle car version of its lineup with the bonus features of the independent layout. Of course coil springs are part of the package.
Independent suspension for each rear wheel offers a number of advantages over solid axle layouts: smoother ride, more tire traction. But higher costs involved in the multi-part independent versions have, up to now, been a prime drawback in their use. The fact that the Chevy Camaro adopted an IRS design, however, appears to have nudged Ford to go with the technology.
But there’s another factor: as part of its near-term plans for the revival of the Lincoln brand, Ford is planning to introduce four new models by 2014, starting with the new 2013 Lincoln MKZ. But longer-term, there will be other products coming — including one or more rear-wheel-drive models. At least one of those will share platforms with the 2015 Mustang.
While company officials won’t discuss specifics, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally this week told TheDetroitBureau.com that this second wave of product, including rear-drive model or models, has already been approved and is now in the development process.
(Click Herefor more on Lincoln’s product plans.)
There are a few other puzzles in this picture, such as the strange cover over the gas cap. We may have more to reveal in the near future.
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