S550 Mustang: The Complete Breakdown
Hit the rewind button back to the first half of the previous decade, and it was easy to see that the fifth generation (S197) Mustang was getting a bit stale. Competitive pressures from the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger and that the S197 Mustang launched in 2005 meant Ford had to step up to the plate for the next generation.
Welcome The S550 Mustang
The Blue Oval certainly knocked it out of the park when the sixth-generation (S550) Mustang was announced in 2015. This new Mustang embraced its roots by bringing back a Fastback body style yet added new design elements, like a sharper angled windshield to make the car more sleek and streamlined. Compared to the previous generation, this new Mustang does a good job of showing off its lower and wider appearance.
The S550 Mustang is noteworthy for numerous improvements and refinements. The all-new platform features a 28 percent stiffer chassis due to advanced steel components. Of course, no discussion of the Mustang is complete without talking about what’s under the hood. Especially for the sixth-generation ‘Stang. And Coyote Mustang history continues with the modular 5.0L DOHC V-8 remaining the centerpiece of performance for 2015. Coyote output now reaches 435 hp (from 420 hp in 2014) and 400 lb-ft of torque (unchanged from the previous year). The engine’s reworked components include a new crankshaft and connecting rods, not to mention an updated intake manifold, valvetrain, and cylinder heads for improved airflow.
The 3.7L Cyclone (Duratec) V-6 returns as the base powerplant for the S550 Mustang. Horsepower drops a bit to 300 hp (a 5 hp drop from 2014) while torque remains the same at 280 lb-ft. Most significantly, the 2015 Mustang was available with an all-new turbocharged four-cylinder, the 2.3L EcoBoost. As the most sophisticated four-cylinder ever put into a production Ford, the EcoBoost’s advanced engineering enabled output numbers reaching 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque--besting the Cyclone V-6.
What Is An S550 Mustang?
The S550 Mustang denotes the generational nickname for Mustangs from 2015-present model years.
At long last, the sixth-generation Mustang finally receives an independent rear suspension (to match the front), which was noticeably absent from earlier versions. Upfront, S550 suspension improvements include a new MacPherson strut setup. Even the base Mustang benefits from these changes allowing for a pony car like no other.
Another Mustang first is that from the outset, the S550 platform was designed for global distribution. Sure, you can find earlier Mustangs worldwide, but these are primarily one-off cars imported by dedicated collectors or enterprising enthusiasts. With the S550, the Mustang could easily be built in a left- or right-hand configuration, making the vehicle more attractive to customers in England, Australia, and Japan. Ford’s export goals included China and Europe as a whole (where the EcoBoost four-cylinder is the base engine).
Here’s some interesting trivia. What’s the best-selling sports car in Germany? A Porsche? Nein (that’s German for no). What about an Audi TT? Nope. It’s the Ford Mustang! This sales trend kicked in as early as 2016, and Ford hasn’t looked back since. Of course, compared to a Porsche, the Mustang is a bargain. The sound and power of the Coyote V-8 only sweetens the deal.
S550 Mustang: Through The Years
With a review of S550 Mustang history under our belts, let’s explore the year-by-year details of the sixth-generation Mustang and S550 Mustang specs. This will be especially interesting as the S550 remains in production today.
2015 Mustang: Details
2015 Mustang - 50th Anniversary Edition
Along with all the Mustang changes with the S550 generation, Ford made a solid effort to upgrade the convertible Mustang. The chassis and engine improvements extended to this model as well. At the same time, engineers reworked the convertible top that now includes a full headliner with thicker insulation making for a much quieter enclosed cabin experience. The convertible’s power-folding mechanism switches to an all-new system that cuts the opening and closing time in half.
The first year of a new generation Mustang is never exciting when it comes to special editions, and 2015 was no different except for the 50th Anniversary Mustang. For this occasion, Ford produced 1,964 (do you see the significance of this number?) copies of Mustang GT fastback in either Wimbledon White or Kona Blue, exclusive colors for this special edition and anniversary badging. The cars included the GT Performance Pack and could be ordered with either a manual or automatic transmission.
2016 Mustang: Details
Shelby GT350 Debuts
As can be expected for the second year of a new Mustang, changes are evolutionary. The archaic MyFord Touch infotainment system is swapped for the much improved SYNC 3 system, fulling bringing the Mustang into the 21st century. On the outside, GT and EcoBoost (the mid-tier trim) Mustang couple be ordered by a black painted roof, mimicking an industry trend.
2016 is notable for the return of special editions to the Mustang stable. It begins with the Shelby GT350 and its monster 5.2L Voodoo DOHC V-8 making 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque--this is Ford’s first production V-8 with a flat-plane crankshaft. Interestingly, at 4.3 seconds for a 0-60 run, a Voodoo-equipped Mustang is only .2 seconds faster than the GT, but top speed reaches 175 mph. This performance far exceeds the GT’s 155 mph top end. Of course, Ford engineers can’t leave well enough alone, so a more track-oriented Shelby GT350R is also available.
And, almost seeming like an afterthought, Ford launches the Shelby GT-H to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1960s-era Rent-A-Racer partnership with Hertz Rent-a-Car. For 2016 only, Ford produced 140 Shelby GT-H models that were available exclusively for rental at select Hertz locations.
2017 Mustang: Details
2017 Mustang In Shadow Black
The S550 Mustang’s third year carries on with minimal updates. Perhaps the most significant change is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now compatible with the SYNC 3 infotainment system. The base V-6 continues to be the starter trim for Mustang, while both the EcoBoost and GT models can be equipped with a sub-trim Premium Package upgrade. As with earlier EcoBoost models, a Performance Package could be added to upgrade the brakes and chassis.
For special editions, the Shelby GT350 and GT350R continue with minimal changes. Most notably of which is offering the coolers from the 2016 GT350 Track Package cars on all GT350s due to some pushback from early GT350 owners overheating their cars on track. Interestingly, seeking to bolster Mustang’s success in Europe, Ford offers a Shadow Black Edition Mustang (a limited-edition appearance package) that’s only available on the Old Continent.
2018 Mustang: Details
2018 Mustang Performance Package - Level 2
Ford wisely chose not to delay a mid-cycle refresh for the Mustang in light of competition from its domestic rivals. The front fascia, headlights, and taillights are updated outside, with other significant changes taking place under the hood. Notably, the Cyclone V-6 is dropped, and the EcoBoost four-cylinder becomes the base powerplant. While horsepower remains the same for this turbo-four, EcoBoost torque is increased by 30 lb-ft to 350. Of course, the Coyote is not ignored either, as the V-8 receives an output upgrade to 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque on the Gen 3 Coyote. For all Mustangs equipped with the Performance Package, MagneRide is also available. Ford also introduced a suite of advanced driving aids (distance alert, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, and a pre-collision assist system).
The special edition Shelby GT350 and GT350R carry on with no major changes.
2019 Mustang: Details
Mustang Bullitt Returns!
The 2019 Mustang soldiers on primarily unchanged from the previous year. The EcoBoost serves as the base powerplant while the Coyote V-8 offers performance on the top end for the GT.
For special editions, the Shelby GT350 and GT350R also continue with some aerodynamic upgrades and improvements to the chassis and suspension. But, the big news is the return of the Bullitt Mustang as Ford celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic movie Bullitt. In terms of price and performance, think of the Bullitt as more than a GT but less than a Shelby. As such, the Bullitt Mustang receives an upgraded 5.0L Coyote with output rated at 480 hp (20 more than the GT). At 163 mph, the Bullitt’s top speed also bests the GT’s performance (by 8 mph).
Other Bullitt enhancements include a performance exhaust system and an intake manifold from the Shelby GT350. On the outside, the Bullitt features a unique grille and other subtle accents to differentiate it from ordinary Mustangs. The paint is either Shadow Black or the vintage Dark Highland Green.
2020 Mustang: Details
GT500 with Carbon Fiber Track Pack
The new decade brings changes to the 2020 Mustang. It begins with the EcoBoost engine receiving a 20 hp upgrade when combined with the High-Performance Package (HPP). New 2020 Mustang colors include Twister Orange, Grabber Lime, Iconic Silver, or Rapid Red. Yet, this year is noteworthy mainly for what happens with special-edition Mustangs.
Sadly, 2020 marks the final year for the Bullitt, the Shelby GT350, and the Shelby GT350R. Yet, this sense of loss is muted by introducing the Shelby GT500--the most powerful car ever produced by Ford. It’s a simple formula. Throw every bit of available automotive technology at a Mustang and see what happens. A cross-plane crank version of the Voodoo V-8 gets supercharged and becomes the Predator engine making 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque. These are supercar numbers without the six-figure price tag. Although, a fully loaded GT500 will come close.
Equally important is how the GT500 handles all this power, so the car receives a dual-clutch transmission, track-tuned chassis, and advanced driver control technologies.
2021 Mustang: Details
Mach 1 with Handling Package
While enthusiasts debate whether an all-electric four-door hatchback is really a Mustang, Ford’s first all-new electric vehicle (EV), the Mustang Mach-E, debuts in 2021.
As the S550 Mustang enters its final years, Ford mostly makes minor tweaks and upgrades for 2021. This includes making the Co-Pilot360 driver aid system standard on all EcoBoost and GT models.
The most significant change to the 2021 lineup is the return of the storied Mach 1 Mustang. This special edition takes the place of the Bullitt and slots in between the GT and the still-available Shelby GT500. Mach 1 engine specs are identical to the Bullitt’s at 480 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. MagneRide is standard, and Mach 1s can be upgraded with an exclusive handling package.
Image Source: Ford Media