The next generation 2014 Ford Mustang is well into is development phase in Dearborn. Internally referred to loosely as the Mustang III by a few of the people we have talked to in the past year, the designation is actually somewhat scary. Last time Ford gave a car a name like that it was the Mustang II, and we all know how that turned out. But rest assured, we aren’t getting a gussied up Pinto this time around.
But the internal moniker comes because the next Mustang will be a departure in some significant ways from the car we have today just like the Mustang II was back in 1974. The 800 pound gorilla in the room for the current Mustang is its sheer size and weight. The 2011 Mustang pictured above weighs in the neighborhood of 3500-4000 lbs depending on the model you select. Consider that against the 1965 Mustang which only weighed about 2450-2800 lbs.
While new engines are still providing excellent mpg with all that weight, the next pony car will still have to be significantly lighter to meet the strangle hold of tougher CAFÉ regulations that will phase in during its life cycle. Mileage will have to increase at minimum of 5-8% each year on average during the Mustang III’s lifetime.
Our sources indicate the 2014 Mustang will be both lighter and smaller than the current car. While that sounds disappointing, keep in mind that the current Mustang is a tank. It’s one of the largest and heaviest Mustangs built in the history of the car. Weight savings will be achieved not only by a modest downsizing but use of lighter materials in the body structure. This will at minimum include high strength steels and aluminum.
We have been hearing that finally a modern independent rear suspension will be part of the next platform generation. Yes, the Mustang will finally join the 21st century club for contemporary chassis tech. This comes in part because of the One Ford plan where all platforms need to be shared around the world. The Mustang can no longer have its own platform to itself, too expensive.
The next generation RWD platform will have to be utilized in other products to make it pencil in a world where Mustangs are selling at or around 100,000 unit’s a year. What may ride on such a platform is unknown, but Australia is sure to take a piece for future Falcon derivatives. There may be hope for an American sedan perhaps for Lincoln to share as well, but we’re not betting on that just yet. We actually should be counting our lucky stars the Mustang is to remain a RWD car at that.
Powertrains are an open question. With hundreds of millions just invested in the 2011 3.7 liter V6 and 5.0 liter V8 it is unlikely that these engines will go by the wayside. The possibility of a four cylinder naturally aspirated or turbocharged engine in the Mustang is still out there for a base model to get the price down enough to put the 2014 Mustang credibly back into the entry level market.
In the speculation of styling, it is well to early to start soothsaying on that front. Nothing has been seen in the way of engineering mules or mock ups just yet as Ford has kept the car well under wraps. We would expect evolutionary styling with enough heritage DNA to keep it “family”. But retro might well have run its course, giving way to a modern interpretation of the pony car.
Ford design guru Jay Mays recently said of the 2014 Mustang, “”We can’t lose the Mustang DNA, which is really important, but we’ve got to signal that Mustang has got another 50 years of life left in it. In order to do that we are going to have to take a bit more of a stretch with the car, bring all of our Mustang faithful along with us.”
The good news is that the group of people that make up Team Mustang at Dearborn are true blue Mustang enthusiasts. While the future with change always seems a bit scary, we can assure you that our beloved pony car is in good hands. It is unlikely we will be disappointed.
When we have more to share, we will.