Hello all. This is my first post, but I am a LONG time Mustang fan, previous owner, and pending 05 owner. Having grown up in Dearborn, and now working for a large firm as a designer and previous engineer (at a big three outfit I will not mention here) I can tell you exactly what happened to the 05 Mustang. The majority of the changes are proportion, due to package and requirements. Thet interior and detail of this car are PHENOMINAL! I mean, they finally got a clue that the console and dash will NEVER LINE UP (My dad has owned three mustangs 99-01 and NEVER has that loopy line that goes from the dash brows into the console and around the shifter lined up across the assembly plane between the console and IP. Hooray to Ford for making a design where it doesn't HAVE TO. Beyond that, here is what happened: Considering the demands of impact, safety (general) federal regs, lighting, CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), and packaging requirements, I can say that the new Mustang is a COMPLETE SUCESS given the rigorous requirements.. 1) Front End. Given that the front of the car is smashed with a GVW weight (car + cargo = 3450+1500(est) ~ 5000lb) load at the center of the car, and NOTHING CAN BE DAMAGED, the sharknose is EXTREMELY WELL HANDLED. This test usually dictates 35-50mm (1.5-2in) offset between the most forward point of the nose to ANY DAMAGEABLE S/MTL ETC. The concept's nose simply would not pass this test. The FOGS in the grille are a result of both design and cost. Early mustangs had fogs in the grille (heritage), and the size of the fogs dictates cost. The large diameter of the fogs is dictated by reflex, and the smaller the parabola, the higher intensity the bulb=more cost. The 30deg offset hit requirement probably also aced the fogs from the lower fascia, due to the 5000lb load that hits the corner of the car- which would require the fogs to be set far back into the fascia, reducing diameter (due to mold flow of the fasica hole needing to be tapered 5 deg) and therefore increasing costs. I personally LOVE the grille mounted lamps, since they evoke more heritage. Considering all that, PLUS Federal Frontal 35mph impact requirements and 5* crash ratings, etc, it is amazing that the Front Overhang (distance from front spindle to tip of front end) is so short! In an impact scenario, it takes distance to dissipate the load of the car over time. If the car accepts too much load too quickly, the G forces on the occupant can cause death. There is no amount of structure that can make up for air space (sounds wierd, but basic physics here). It looks like Ford has chosed to put the crush space behind the motor instead of in front a la BMW, to give a shorter nose appearance, and more drama in the porportion BRAVO This is the first American RWD car to do this! While the Concept front end looks shorter, it would certainly not pass impact standards. 2) Roofline / IRS: Ford claims that the IRS was lost to "Keep the drag racers happy" OK. There are plenty of FAST/QUICK straight line cars with independent rear suspension!!! (Viper, Corvette, Porsche GT3, Audi S4, and the list goes on and on) The REAL reason, is that Ford Design (I gaurantee) wanted the roofline lower than the LS (which the platform was based on) so what does that do to the package? With the lower roofline, the occupants HAVE to move down to keep the 2+2 package (for customer and INSURANCE COSTS - (Mustangs already cost a fortune to insure, if Ford wants to sell them, they can't have Corvette price insurance on a Mustang) Once the occupants are reduced in height to form acceptable (not comfy) packaging, the seat buckets (guess what!) run right into the IRS Package space (Hence the contorted structure of the current Cobra IRS subframe to fit the old Live axle pickups) So Ford had a decision, 1) Raise the roofline, keep LS package and IRS susp (no investment cost option) 2) Lower roofline to design request (to keep the theme), and develop a new IRS (this equals LOTS of investment, Piece cost, and DELAYS launch probably by a year for development) or 3) (what they did) Lower the roofline, and place a more sophisticated live axle setup in which is significantly lower cost, is easier to develop (since they already have one) and "old school" Mustang enthusiasts will likely be OK with I personally think Ford is missing out on a conquesting market share with a lot of foreign sports car buyers (350Z, Infiniti G35 cpe, BMW 3, etc) and settling for just current owners that want an upgrade, but what the hell do I know? I mean, how cool would it be if Ford finally trumped BMW, etc in perception and appeal, and magazines wrote good PR instead of "We love the chassis....except it seems a bit dated already in comparison to the competition" Those words are like poison on the launch of a new product line. You can never shake that perception once it is out there, so to me it is worth the investment. sigh... After owning 15 cars (83 Mustang GT 5.0L, Ford Ranger,79 Thunderbird,97 Neon ACR,87 Audi 4000Q, 85 Golf GTI, 93 Audi S4 Stage III+, 79 Merc Capri 5.0, 66 Fairlane GTA 390, 86 Mazda RX7 GenI, 01 Ford Focus, 00 Dodge Neon ES, 02 Jeep Liberty, 03 Jeep Wrangler, 88 BMW M5) and having driven MANY competitors, I hate to say it, but the Japanese and Germans ALWAYS kick our ass in handling and stering refinement. I have been impressed with two American cars' handling though - 97 Neon ACR (a GOKART! ) and the Ford Focus. I hope the new Mustang will be as nice (lets wait and see!- maybe the live axle is tuned well enough) 3) Rear end Overhang: Given that the Mustang is a 300HP V8, and a 2+2 package for insurance, the car is very size inneficient. If Ford did not make the rear end long enough, and trunk big enough, the car would fall under "Economy" class with the likes of Civic, Corolla, Neon, Focus etc, making its V8 a little "thirsty" for the class, and thereby causing LARGE FINES for the corporation, making it IMPOSSIBLE to PRODUCE A GT or COBRA, which WE ALL LOVE AND WANT! So, if you don't like the rearend, at least thank if for being big enough to make the business case solid to give you a 300Hp V8... YEAH BABY! ...Plus, there is a new impending rear impact requirement that says the car must withstand a 50mph rear hit at Curb load...3450lbs going 50mph, you do the math.... crush space is a beautiful thing. All in all, if you consider that Fords has been able the improve the package (seven inches longer wheelbase means more room for rear seat passengers - aka no broken ankles for the little chickies you pick up in your phat ride, lower insurance rates, and better room for drivers), and STILL make the car fster to 60 (5.2 secs!) with MORE HORSEPOWER AND TORQUE, with BETTER FUEL ECONOMY makes for a winner! Only thing I am waiting for is to read the highlights in "real" not studio photog lighting, and "Feel" the car's chassis in September to see if it delivers as they say on steering feel and handling. I can already tell that the panhard rod has made a difference in lateral axle slop because the stance to the car is MUCH BETTER than the previous. The wheel to body (distance between the sidewall of tire/wheel an the fender lip, laterally) is more like a BMW = AWESOME! Lets all wait and see what the Detroit show brings! I, for one, am encouraged to be back in the Mustang buyers circle!