The Internet rumor mill may have you convinced that a four-cylinder Mustang and a next-generation pony car with an independent rear suspension are a sure thing, but Ford has yet to officially confirm either. We took advantage of our seat at a dinner table with president and CEO Alan Mulally, marketing chief Jim Farley, and product development head Derrick Kuzak to pin Ford’s top executives with the questions on every Mustang enthusiast’s mind. While not quite an official confirmation, the answers from Kuzak and Mulally, word-for-word, are below. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Automobile Magazine: Will the next-generation Mustang have an independent rear suspension?
Derrick Kuzak: I think it’s a bit early to talk about the next-generation Mustang, but I think recognizing our commitment to product excellence, it will probably give you a sense of what direction we have.
Automobile Magazine: What year will Ford be ready to sell a four-cylinder Mustang?
Derrick Kuzak: Let me put this in context. When we talked about downsizing to six-cylinders in F-series trucks several years ago, people looked at us like we were crazy. You can take the same view about Mustang.
Alan Mulally: This is one of the coolest things about EcoBoost. You get all that torque at the low rpm so you not only get all the bandwidth, but you get a machine that’s even more fun to drive. We didn’t know how everybody was going to accept that, but wow have they ever accepted that.
Ford’s stable of Ecoboost powertrains—turbocharged, direct-injected engines with variable valve timing—includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque in the Edge crossover that is well-positioned to slot below the Mustang’s current V-6 and V-8 engines. In an earlier interview on Monday at the 2012 Detroit auto show, Ford’s executive director of global product programs, Hau Thai-Tang, confirmed that the next Mustang will be designed under the company’s new Kinetic 2.0 design language. The next-generation Mustang is expected to arrive in 2014 as a 2015 model.