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Ford departed from the charming retro-styled pony car when it introduced the S550 Mustang in 2015. Gone was the familiar angular fascia, and in its place, Ford unveiled a modern grand tourer-style car reminiscent of the X150 Jaguar XK. It was a controversial move but an important step in the evolution of the modern Ford Mustang. Moreover, the S550 had at least four significant advantages over its predecessor, the S197. 

How fast is the S550 Mustang?

The S550 is faster than many of its predecessors across trim lines. The latest entry-level S550s, the EcoBoost, produce 310 horsepower and 330 with the High Performance package. That allows the turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder pony car to hit 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, 0.7 seconds faster than the 2014 V6 with a Performance Package. The V8 trims were a little more similar.

A Ford Mustang EcoBoost is an example of an S550 Mustang with more power and efficiency than the old S197 cars.
Ford Mustang EcoBoost | Ford

The first pre-facelift S550 GTs packed the 5.0L Coyote engine with 435 horsepower. The result was near identical acceleration between the 2014 and 2015 GT, but the later S550s were much quicker, with a 2018 GT Performance Pack hitting 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Of course, both generations offer blacktop-bashing special editions. Savvy shoppers who love the S197’s styling might even find a pantomimic 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302, which Car and Driver tested at a 4.3-second sprint to 60 mph. 

What kind of suspension does the S550 Mustang have?

Ford didn’t just redesign the exterior with the newer car; they introduced one of the pony car’s most significant refinements in ages: integral-link independent rear suspension. For the first time, the Mustang’s entire lineup ditched its live rear axle for a more advanced setup. Car and Driver says it not only improves the livability of the ride quality but also allows for 0.95g of lateral grip with Pirelli P Zeros in testing. 

That’s a pretty steep advantage compared to the S197 Mustang. The older pony car retained its antiquated suspension design through 2014, even in special editions like the Boss. In fact, Dodge and Chevrolet adopted independent suspension years earlier in their modern muscle cars

The Ford Mustang Boss 302 is one of the best S197s, aside from the Shelby models.
Ford Mustang Boss 302 | Scott Olson, Getty Images

What is the most efficient S197 Ford Mustang?

The most fuel-efficient S197 Mustangs are the 3.7L V6-powered base models. According to TrueCar, the 2014 V6 Mustang could manage 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg at highway speeds. While that’s not bad for a naturally aspirated V6 coupe, it’s not quite up to S550 Mustang EcoBoost standards. A 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost manages 21 mpg in the city but the same 29 mpg highway. The newer GTs are thirstier than the S197 GTs; it’s understandable, considering the extra horsepower. 

How modern is the S550 Mustang?

The S550 isn’t just more modern from the outside; its cabin is much more refined than the previous S197 pony car. The newer Mustangs feature more contemporary controls, with Ford Sync infotainment systems, push-button start, and a more trendy layout. Some of the latest S550s offer a digital dash and the Sync 3 system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Of course, shoppers shouldn’t expect BMW luxury in even the newest pony cars.

The S550 Mustang's interior is more refined than the old S197.
Ford Mustang interior | Ford

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Which car should you buy?

The S550 might be more potent, have a more refined ride, and have a more modern interior than the S197, but the older Mustang isn’t without its charms. The S197’s retro styling and old-school suspension are reminiscent of pony cars from the 1960s. Still, if you want more out-of-the-box performance, technology, and possibly an intact warranty, choose a newer Mustang. 

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