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Preproduction model shown. Available late 2017.

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2018 Mustang fans will delight in its standout performance, styling and technology.

READY TO POUNCE

Its designers set out to amp up an icon—and in the process created a modern masterpiece

By Joe Angio
Photographs By DW Burnett

Artists often draw inspiration from unlikely sources: Gothic gargoyles, for example, or the striations of a steep cliff … even canned-food labels. The same holds true for the innovators behind the 2018 Mustang. “As long as you’re living life, design is all around you, whether it’s fashion, architecture or product design,” says Mustang design manager Melvin Betancourt. “So if you’re constantly aware of your surroundings, you’re always pulling ideas from everywhere.” The latest result? A stunning update to an iconic sports car long known for its styling and performance. Here’s how it happened.

Future Perfect

The Shelby GT350®– inspired Active Valve Performance Exhaust* will maximize the Mustang’s signature rumble.

When it came to refreshing the Mustang for 2018, lead designer Chris Stevens took his visual cues from a galaxy far, far away. “I’m very into scifi,” Stevens says. “I love movies that explore futuristic space travel. I’m always looking at interstellar vessels and starship fighters—and I bring a lot of that into my car design.”

Stevens had a particular aesthetic in mind when he put pencil to paper. “I looked at the 2015 Mustang as being the nice-guy hero,” he says. “I wanted the 2018 to be more like a villain, like the guy you don’t want to bring home to your parents. If you look at the air curtains in the lower corners of the fascia, they point toward the wheels, making the vehicle look lower and wider—like it’s grabbing the road. These are visual cues that lend a villain aspect to the design.”

Stevens achieved this “sinister” look largely by dropping the nose 20 mm lower than its 2015 sibling—a result made possible by a switch to LED headlights, which take up less room than conventional bulbs. “This made the rear end more dominant,” he adds. “It looks ready to pounce.”

To Stevens, it makes sense to turn to the big screen for ideas. “Much of what we see in movies will be on the road one day,” he says, “so why can’t we design things to look like they do in movies? When someone sees the new Mustang, you don’t want it to seem like something from right now, you want it to look like the future.”

Lean and Mean

High-performance cars are in Melvin Betancourt’s blood. Betancourt, Design Manager, Mustang Specialty Cars, collected Hot Wheels as a child. While attending Brooklyn’s Automotive High School, he would spend hours tinkering with cars to better his chances in the weekly drag races on the long straightaways behind JFK airport. And when his dad brought home a mustard-colored 1970 Boss 302 Mustang, he fell in love.

For a time, Betancourt seriously considered a career as a fashion designer. Fortunately for Mustang enthusiasts, his abiding passion for cars carried the day—and his wide-ranging interests enhanced his work.

With the 2018 Mustang, Betancourt took the term muscle car literally. “If you look at the legs of athletes, their muscles and the way their bodies are sculpted, there are a lot of undercuts, shadows, highlights, tension,” he says. “I look at cars the same way—for the muscular tones, I try to get those taut surfaces.” Behold the lithe contours of the sleek 2018 Mustang.

The Most Powerful Pony Yet

Wild Horses

The legendary 
5.0L V8 Coyote 
engine has been 
thoroughly reworked, providing more power and higher revs than any Mustang GT 
in history.

Take a Stance

A redesigned, aggressive body gives the 2018 Mustang a stronger-looking stance.

Into High Gear

The new 10-Speed SelectShift® transmission—available with both EcoBoost® and V8 engines—means even quicker shift times.

Classy Cockpit

The Carbon Sport Interior Package* adds Alcantara® trimmed seats and 
a Carbon Fiber 
appliqué.

Ultimate Face-off

The 2018 sports 
a new grille, lowered hood with vents, 
and widened front end highlighted by LED technology, which powers the redesigned headlamps.

 

A 12” LCD instrument cluster* is the first all-digital display offered on a Mustang. It can be reconfigured to three different screens (Normal, Sport or Track) and customized with your favorite colors through MyColor.

A New World

Cues from sci-fi in the air curtains bring a villainous aspect to the 2018’s front end.

Creating from a blank page can be daunting; just ask Craig Sandvig, Interior Design Manager for the digital experience across the entire Ford product line. As this was the company’s first foray into creating an all-digital instrument display for the Mustang, it was up to Sandvig to come up with the template from which all future ponies would evolve. And because the display was reconfigurable, Sandvig decided to up the ante and create three distinct views to correspond with the Mustang’s Normal, Sport and Track drive modes.

Sandvig investigated the history of Mustang and took cues from cutting-edge design in other technologies. “We were heavily influenced by heads-up displays in fighter jets and helicopters,” Sandvig says, “along with what you see in certain electric vehicles, websites and smartphone interactions.”

Sandvig, who says he was “drawing cars as soon as I could pick up a pencil,” studied fine arts en route to earning a BFA in industrial design. “It expanded my experience and aesthetic,” he says. “Abstract painting taught me a whole different understanding of how color, space and textures influence look and feel.”

The upshot? An interior that “is modern, sophisticated, human— and still feels like a Mustang.”

Tough Crowd

Redesigned taillamps on the timeless 2018 propel the classic well into the future.

The pressure can be intense when you’re dealing with some of the most passionate folks on the planet: Mustang owners. “When people buy a Mustang, they feel like they’re buying a piece of history,” Betancourt explains. “Mustang owners just love to talk about their Mustangs. And everyone has an opinion.”

That’s why the entire team pays close attention to customer feedback, says Mustang Vehicle Integration Engineer Keith Daugherty—whether that’s through Mustang clubs, dealer feedback or other channels. Invariably, owners’ interests boiled down to three key attributes: technology, performance and styling.

“Mustang always has been pure and bold,” says Stevens. “I really tried to keep that mind-set of Mustang history when I was sketching. It’s either Mustang or it’s not. I wanted something that was timeless.”

Daugherty agrees. “We’re always challenging ourselves to do more and do better,” he notes. “We want the customer to say, ‘This is the best Mustang ever. I want that Mustang.’"

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Tags: Mustang

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