Thanks to our crack spy photographers, we have the first visual evidence that the next-generation Ford Mustang will ditch its retro duds in favor of a more modern design inspired by the Fusion sedan. The new Mustang is expect to bow in 2014 as a 2015 model year vehicle.
Update: A series of photos shot inside Ford's design studio give an even better look at the new Mustang.
Ford successfully emulated the styling of the 1964 Mustang when it redesigned the iconic pony car for 2005, but buyers have since cooled on the Mustang's retro look. Ford sold 166,530 units of the Mustang in 2006, but just 70,438 Mustangs found new homes in 2011. As such, Ford has decided to give the Mustang a fresh look for the 2015 model year.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the next Mustang will adopt many of the styling cues found on the new Fusion in a bid to attract younger buyers. Those that have seen the 2015 Mustang say it looks nearly identical to the Evos concept and has a distinct Aston Martin flair to it.
There is clear evidence of that new styling direction on this early mule. Although the prototype spotted today is pretty much standard Mustang from the A-pillars back, the front end wears the hood, bumper and fenders of the all-new model (notice how the body work doesn't line up with the front of the doors). It may be covered in camouflage, but the shape of the next-generation Mustang is certainly coming into focus.
Despite its total overhaul, the Mustang will retain a few of its current design cues. Those in-the-know say the car new will keep its shark-nosed grille and round headlights.
Our spy photographers were also able to snap a shot of the engine bay of one prototype, revealing cramped quarters. Although a 5.0L V8 will still fit between the fenders of the 2015 Mustang, it remains to be seen if Ford will be able to shoehorn in a larger motor. What that means for the Shelby GT500 isn't exaclty clear. However, we've heard both turbocharged four and six-cylinder engines could be on tap for lesser Mustang models.
The underside of the 2015 Mustang is also in line for a major overhaul. Recent spy shots have revealed that the next 'Stang will be ditching its archaic solid rear axle for a modern independent setup, which should translate to a more compliant ride.
Of course the 2015 Mustang won't be the first version of the pony car to employ an independent rear suspension as the 1999-2002-era SVT Cobra also used an IRS.
Look for the next-generation Ford Mustang to make its first public debut sometime in 2014.