Feature: Steeda 2015 Mustang GT

0 Steeda 2015 Mustang Featured

Drive Time

Taking Steeda’s 2015 Mustang test bed for a quick spin around Valdosta

By Steve Turner

One of the best parts about covering the world of Ford performance is experiencing the wide array of performance automobiles in the real world. When we are following along with the installation of parts, it’s not always the case that we get to drive the cars involved. However, the crew at Steeda has always been good about throwing us the keys to its vehicles.

From the back, the Steeda Mustang is pretty stock. However, with Triple Yellow paint and the company’s Sidewinder graphics, this car doesn’t need much extra to stand out from the crowd.
From the back, the Steeda Mustang is pretty stock. However, with Triple Yellow paint and the company’s Sidewinder graphics, this car doesn’t need much extra to stand out from the crowd.

From Mustangs to Foci, your author has driven a few Steeda vehicles in his day. Moreover, many of the project cars in my driveway have ridden on Steeda suspension parts. It’s the company’s ability to sharpen a vehicle’s handling without degrading its drivability that often made the company’s gear the right fit for those street-performance rides.

“Our goal is to take it to the next level of performance, without sacrificing ride quality and NVH,” Dario Orlando, president of Steeda, explained. “We started with the IRS because that is the weak link when you add performance. We knew we had to add additional control and adjustability to the rear alignment.”

Knowing the company’s strengths, I was definitely excited to get behind the wheel of its 2015 Mustang. We know that the latest Mustangs have taken another giant leap in refinement and handling from the factory. Sharpening that handling without losing too much of the car’s smooth demeanor is a definite challenge, so after Jamie Bell installed the performance parts for our camera and drove it for our action shots, he handed over the keys and offered a drive.

In front, the Steeda Mustang is equipped with the company’s street S550 front splitter, which is designed to reduce lift and improve traction at speed. It looks sharp too.
In front, the Steeda Mustang is equipped with the company’s street S550 front splitter, which is designed to reduce lift and improve traction at speed. It looks sharp too.

Our first move was to do a few laps around the Cul-de-sac that served as our photo location. We didn’t quite use it as a full-on skid pad, but a few quick circles showed that the Steeda Mustang stayed pretty flat and was easily controlled in a tight-radius turn. Rolling out of that, we came to a stop and banged quickly through First, Second, and Third gears. The car spun a bit, but smoothly transitioned into traction as it leapt forward.

Steeda technician Jamie Bell sat calmly in the passenger seat as my chaperone.

“Did you notice anything?” he asked.

If you followed our installation of the Steeda Pro Flow cold-air intake, you know the only go-fast mods on this Steeda Mustang are the aforementioned CAI, a Steeda performance calibration, and a Steeda after-cat exhaust. The car has a fat power curve in the midrange, and it was fun to get into that range and wind it out.
If you followed our installation of the Steeda Pro Flow cold-air intake, you know the only go-fast mods on this Steeda Mustang are the aforementioned CAI, a Steeda performance calibration, and a Steeda after-cat exhaust. The car has a fat power curve in the midrange, and it was fun to get into that range and wind it out.

I hesitated. I was having such a good time enjoying the acceleration offered by a new-school Coyote with modest modifications, that it took me a minute to figure out what I was missing. It really is amazing how these modern engines still respond to the same tried-and-true hot-rodding techniques. However, what I overlooked is something I would never truly miss…

“No wheelhop,” he said flatly.

That’s right, laying into the Steeda Mustang produced none of the ill-effects you might associate with a rear-drive car with an independent rear suspension. However, it’s one thing to tame the suspension, it’s another thing to have the car still ride nicely. As we rolled onto the streets on the outskirts of Valdosta, Georgia, I followed the same loop that Jamie took me on. The car was clearly tighter than a stock Mustang but it was completely livable and quiet. Only the burble of the exhaust and a bit of communication from the shifter would penetrate the cabin.

A base GT, this Steeda Mustang features are relatively stock interior. Only a set of floormats and Steeda billet pedal covers deviate from the stock theme. While the company is hard at work on a Tri-Ax shifter for the latest Mustang, the car still wore a stock shifter during our drive. It was, however, augmented by the company’s urethane shifter and transmission mount bushings. They did add more shift precision when we banged through the gears.
A base GT, this Steeda Mustang features are relatively stock interior. Only a set of floormats and Steeda billet pedal covers deviate from the stock theme. While the company is hard at work on a Tri-Ax shifter for the latest Mustang, the car still wore a stock shifter during our drive. It was, however, augmented by the company’s urethane shifter and transmission mount bushings. They did add more shift precision when we banged through the gears.

“Ford did an outstanding job isolating NVH. With our experience we know what will and will not introduce NVH,” Dario said. “We are constantly learning and fine-tuning this aspect in our development programs.”

Whipping it around the streets, it was clear that the Steeda ethos of adding performance but making it livable was in full effect on the company’s 2015 Mustang. However, the final test came as we returned to the company’s manufacturing facility. As we approached the railroad crossing I maintained a steady speed. The car glided over the tracks with no clunking or vibrations.

Keep in mind this car is not a fully realized Steeda Mustang just yet. It has served as a test bed for the company’s ongoing product development, having worn numerous bushings, sway bars, and springs as the company’s engineers have dialed in the performance-to-NVH ratio. In the future, the company is turning its attention to the front of the car, the dampers, and maybe even some power-adder options.

If you read our suspension install story, you know this car still wore the stock wheels. However, before it left Valdosta and headed to the NMRA season opener, the car received a fresh set of the company’s black ST-R wheels with Nitto tires. This wheel and tire combo really brought the car’s looks to the next level.
If you read our suspension install story, you know this car still wore the stock wheels. However, before it left Valdosta and headed to the NMRA season opener, the car received a fresh set of the company’s black ST-R wheels with Nitto tires. This wheel and tire combo really brought the car’s looks to the next level.

For now, however, we can say the company is definitely on the right track with its S550 product development, and we look forward to see where the company takes the latest Mustang platform from here.

“Eventually this car will be used to develop our more hardcore line of parts for the people who will be pushing their vehicles on various road courses and drag strips around the world,” Dario teased.

With a few power bolt-ons and a revamped suspension, the Steeda Mustang was a complete blast to drive. It featured nice power and sharper handling without paying any real NVH penalty, although the shifter bushings to cause the transmission send some signals into the cockpit.
With a few power bolt-ons and a revamped suspension, the Steeda Mustang was a complete blast to drive. It featured nice power and sharper handling without paying any real NVH penalty, although the shifter bushings do cause the transmission send some signals into the cockpit.

The Mod List

Powertrain

Block: Stock Coyote 5.0-liter aluminum
Crankshaft: Stock, forged steel
Rods: Stock, sinter-forged connecting rods
Pistons: Stock hypereutectic
Camshafts: Stock
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Intake: Stock w/ Steeda Pro Flow cold-air intake
Fuel System: Electronic returnless
Exhaust: Stock w/ Steeda after-cat
Transmission: Stock Getrag MT-82 with Steeda urethane shifter and transmission mount bushings
Rearend: Stock IRS Super 8.8

Electronics

Engine Management: Tricor PCM w/ Steeda calibration
Ignition: Stock

Front Suspension

K-member: Stock
A-arms: Stock
Struts: Stock
Springs: Steeda Sport
Sway Bar: Steeda
Brakes: Stock
Wheels: Steeda ST-R, 20×9.5-inch
Tires: Nitto Invo, 275/35R-20

Rear Suspension

Shocks: Stock
Springs: Steeda Sport
Control Arms: Stock w/ Steeda adjustable toe link and billet vertical link
Sway Bar: Steeda
Brakes: Stock
Wheels: Steeda ST-R, 20×11-inch
Tires: Nitto NT-555R, 315/35R-20

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