The Ford Mustang is a resilient beast.
It’s survived gas crises, the malaise period, a number of monetary crashes and, extra just lately, a worldwide push to euthanise gasoline guzzling, peace disturbing internal-combustion vehicles in favour of whisper quiet electrical vehicles.
Chevrolet is killing the Camaro, Dodge is asking time on the Challenger and Charger, and the likes of Pontiac and Buick… nicely, the much less mentioned about them the higher.
Ford simply retains on conserving on, although. Now into its seventh era, the Mustang remains to be powered by a great old style V8 engine (we’ll give the EcoBoost as a lot time as most patrons do on this evaluate), and nonetheless affords the choice of three pedals and a persist with correctly take cost.
That’s to not say the newest Mustang is caught previously.
It’s crisper to take a look at on the skin, and the inside has been completely overhauled with a dual-screen show that’s extra Stuttgart than Alabama.
Ford has additionally fiddled with the mechanical bits to squeeze extra energy from the engine, and to enhance the journey and dealing with from the final automobile; it is a heavy overhaul of the earlier Mustang somewhat than a ground-up new mannequin.
Sitting atop the vary is the 2024 Ford Mustang Darkish Horse, a extra driver-focused pony with extra energy, a stiffer suspension setup, and a novel gearbox relative to the Mustang GT.
We headed to North Carolina to learn how it stacks up.
We don’t know but. In the mean time, we’re anticipating the worth to rise throughout the vary relative to the earlier Mustang.
The Excessive Efficiency (EcoBoost) beforehand kicked off at $52,950 earlier than on-road prices, and the Mach 1 topped out at $83,365 earlier than on-road prices.
We’re banking on the newest Excessive Efficiency kicking off across the $60,000 mark, with the Darkish Horse topping out someplace between $90,000 and $100,000 earlier than on-road prices.
Rivals for the Mustang are… nicely, they’re non-existent at this level. Chevrolet is within the technique of killing the Camaro globally, the Chevrolet Corvette operates in a really completely different area, and the Chrysler 300 not exists in Australia.
Globally, the Dodge Challenger and Charger are on the way in which out as nicely. Ford actually does have this area to itself in Australia, and globally issues are headed that approach as nicely.
The final Mustang tugged laborious on the guts strings with its retro-inspired cabin, nevertheless it fell brief on the standard entrance. That’s in all probability placing it evenly; it was low cost and nasty in there.
The brand new one represents a giant step ahead.
No, it’s not a Mercedes-Benz S-Class in there, however the shift to a widescreen infotainment setup and a extra trendy inside structure has paid dividends. The brand new Mustang appears to be like and looks like a high quality merchandise in a approach the final one by no means did.
It’s nonetheless very accomodating by the requirements of two-door coupes, too. The place a Nissan Z doesn’t have the headroom or legroom for six-footers to get snug, the Mustang has area for long-legged drivers to stretch on lengthy journeys, or to suit with a helmet on.
Though the usual consolation seats are extra accomodating, even the elective Recaro bucket seats are broad sufficient for giant Australian drivers to get snug. We prefer to make enjoyable of American vehicles, however vehicles designed for American folks additionally work for Australians.
A bit extra help from these Recaro seats would come in useful on the monitor, however the trade-off is less complicated day-to-day driving. That’s a trade-off we’d wager most homeowners shall be prepared to make.
The ergonomics are good. The flat-bottom steering wheel is smaller than earlier than and feels nice in your arms, and the titanium gear knob on the handbook appears to be like and feels costly. You continue to get cupholders on the transmission tunnel, and bottles in there nonetheless get in the way in which when you’re making an attempt to shift the handbook.
USB-A and USB-C ports characteristic, and there’s a wi-fi telephone charger on the base of the dashboard.
The infotainment system is a large step ahead from earlier than. The central display is working a model of Ford’s newest Sync software program, and feels correctly trendy. The graphics are flashy, it responds rapidly to inputs, and it has loads of efficiency pages to play with.
Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto characteristic. Gone are the bodily local weather management dials, changed with contact buttons on the base of the show. They’re not as straightforward to make use of as old style buttons, however you don’t want too many swipes or prods to regulate the fan pace for instance.
Additionally gone are the plastic-chrome toggles on the base of the dashboard from the outdated automobile, changed with a pod of shortcuts that really feel a bit bit low cost. They’re an enchancment, however they’re nonetheless not fairly as much as scratch.
The digital dashboard is superb, with a spread of layouts based mostly in your drive mode. The elective Fox Physique gauges are a neat contact, though it’s a disgrace you may’t couple them with a digital speedometer.
Rear seat area is… the identical as earlier than, which is to say very tight.
You’ll should be versatile or very small to get again there, and as soon as they’re again there the sloping roofline and brief seat base make it a fairly uncomfortable place to spend time. There are not any air vents, no USB ports, and no cupholders.
Claimed boot area is 375 litres, which is very large for a two-door coupe. You’ll get a correct suitcase in there, or a set of golf golf equipment.
Energy within the Mustang Darkish Horse comes from a 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8, hooked as much as the rear wheels with the selection of six-speed handbook and 10-speed automated transmission.
The V8 engine – Coyote, in Ford communicate – pumps out 373kW of energy and 567Nm of torque, up from 358kW within the common Mustang GT. A variable exhaust is customary, permitting you to toggle from Quiet Mode (which isn’t all that quiet) to Monitor Mode (which is flat out obnoxious).
There’s extra engine, transmission, and differential cooling within the Darkish Horse in comparison with the Mustang GT; touches debuted on the earlier Mach 1 in a bid to cease vehicles getting too scorching on the monitor, heading into limp house mode, and sending homeowners house disillusioned.
There’s extra to the handbook than meets the attention. Fairly than the Getrag MT-82 unit within the common GT, the Darkish Horse will get a Tremec TR-3160 designed to higher deal with the rigours of monitor use.
It additionally will get a No Elevate Shift characteristic, which lets you dip the clutch and slam house the following gear with out lifting off the throttle above 5000rpm at 90 per cent throttle or above, and rev matching permitting clumsy drivers to keep away from the embarrassment of a botched heel-toe.
The ten-speed automated is a growth of the transmission debuted on the final Mustang. Claimed gas economic system hasn’t been locked in for Australia.
Prod the beginning button and the Mustang explodes to life with a bassy flourish that instantly outs it as a great old style V8.
The sixth-generation automobile was too quiet at launch, earlier than Ford fastened the issue with a variable exhaust. The Blue Oval hasn’t made the identical mistake this time round.
With comparatively gradual steering, a heavy throttle, and a shifter that takes a agency hand to fit into gear, the Mustang nonetheless feels a bit old-school – which it’s, regardless of how trendy the inside. It’s nicely behaved, although.
There’s a lot torque from the Coyote V8 which you could lope round a gear or two increased than you’d often must within the handbook, and the 10-speed automated has so many gears you’re by no means removed from a strong shove within the again if you put your foot down.
On the highway, the common Darkish Horse is a fairly relaxed cruiser. It feels tauter than the earlier GT on the open highway, however not by all that a lot. Which means it does a pleasant job filtering out potholes and enlargement joints, and doesn’t shake you relentlessly on North Carolina highways; whether or not or not that’ll carry over to Australia stays to be seen.
The final Mustang was a beautiful grand tourer, and this one seems no completely different. It’s the right automobile to swallow two baggage and take you someplace scenic over a protracted weekend, which – anecdotally at the very least – is how quite a lot of homeowners use their vehicles in Australia.
The one caveat is the dealing with pack, which received’t be coming to Australia at launch anyway.
The place the common Darkish Horse has a suspension setup that’s barely extra aggressive than the common GT and wider 250mm entrance/275mm rear tyres, the Dealing with Pack has had its stiffness cranked up once more and rides on 305/315mm huge Pirelli Trofeo RS semi slick tyres.
Despite the fact that it’s greater than able to lengthy stints on the highway, however its entrance finish is keener to comply with cambers within the highway, and it thumps more durable over bumps.
No matter spec, the Coyote V8 engine is a masterpiece. In a world dominated by turbocharged, small-displacement engines bursting with low-end torque however strangled for character, the way in which its builds from burbling round low within the rev vary, roaring by means of its mid-range, and snarling to the 7400rpm redline is immensely satisfying.
It sounds offended in Regular mode, with a brassy snarl that feels a step nearer to the demonic wail of the flat-plane crank V8 within the Shelby GT350 than was beforehand the case, and in Monitor it struts round shouting on the high of its lungs.
Mated with the six-speed handbook transmission, it’s a superbly easy and old-school . You may depart it in second and even third gear round city with out an excessive amount of stress, however the superbly weighted clutch, Honda-esque titanium shift knob, and chunky shift motion imply you’ll need to work by means of the gears regardless.
The six-speed transmission within the outdated Mustang wasn’t dangerous, however the Tremec within the new Darkish Horse is healthier once more.
Its electrical assists are additionally good, and make it simpler than ever to extract one of the best from the three-pedal ‘Stang.
No Elevate Shift means that you can hold the throttle pinned on upshifts (supplied you’re above 5000rpm, with greater than 90 per cent throttle), making it straightforward to tear from first to second gear at full noise, and the rev match system makes it straightforward to tear down the gears and provides pedestrians or different vehicles a bit blast of V8 thunder as you come to a cease.
Additionally improved is the 10-speed automated transmission… however that doesn’t imply it’s the one you must have.
Sure, it’s quicker and extra environment friendly. And sure, it’s extra decisive than the 10-speeder within the final Mustang. However you simply don’t want 10 gears in a automobile with as a lot torque because the Mustang, and there’s nonetheless a bent for the gearbox to attempt each single gear, only for a second, on its method to the fitting one.
Put your foot down and, somewhat than a satisfying surge from low within the rev vary, you get a barely stilted downshift, or two, or three, because the automobile’s digital mind takes a guess at how a lot efficiency you need. Utilizing the paddles is a method round it, however you’d should be loads smarter than me to trace what gear you’re in whereas flicking from eighth or ninth right down to second underneath braking.
That’s additionally the case on the monitor. We put the Darkish Horse by means of its paces on the Charlotte Motor Speedway in, you guessed it: Charlotte, North Carolina, on a hybrid oval and highway course.
Ford has executed track-focused Mustang specials previously, and little doubt will do them once more sooner or later. Regardless of that, the badge isn’t actually related to monitor day warriors. The common Darkish Horse isn’t going to essentially change that, though it’s quite a lot of enjoyable to punt laborious.
It’s approachable, with strong front-end grip and loads of traction on the rear making it straightforward to let free all 500 raging horses, and the rev match and No Elevate Shift techniques are a godsend when you’re making an attempt to upshift at 170km/h, utilizing the incorrect hand in a left-hand drive automobile on a banked speedway monitor – or making an attempt to cease from 210km/h with the partitions closing in.
There’s nonetheless a way it is a heavy automobile, however the brakes are greater than as much as the duty of hauling it up from excessive speeds. Our take a look at vehicles have been pounded in humid, 35-degree climate by unsympathetic journalists all day and didn’t miss a beat.
For those who do need to trouble costlier metallic on monitor days, the Dealing with Pack is price a glance. It looks like a distinct automobile, with considerably extra grip from its sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS rubber and higher physique management once more than the Darkish Horse.
It may be thrown into corners extra confidently, and places its energy down higher once more on a scorching monitor. On a frosty morning at Winton or Jap Creek? You’d need to actually make certain they’re scorching, and if there’s standing water round then you definitely’d greatest overlook it.
Last specs for the Darkish Horse haven’t been locked in for Australia, however we all know the Recaro seats and Look Bundle (detailed beneath) shall be elective.
We additionally know the Dealing with Bundle received’t be supplied right here from the manufacturing facility, though Herrod Efficiency has already confirmed it’ll provide it for present homeowners.
Within the US, Mustang Darkish Horse highlights embrace:
- 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres
- MagneRide adaptive dampers
- Energetic valve exhaust
- Twin-zone local weather management
- Heated seats and steering wheel
- B&O sound system
- LED headlights and daytime working lights
- Wi-fi telephone charger, USB-A and USB-C ports
- 13.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- 12.3-inch digital driver show
- Wi-fi Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Manufacturing facility satellite tv for pc navigation
- Titanium shift knob (6MT)
- Paddle shifters (10AT)
- Flat-bottom steering wheel
The elective Look Bundle contains:
- Black roof
- Infamous Blue end for brake calipers
- Distinctive bonnet graphic
Ford wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not it expects the brand new Mustang to enhance on the final mannequin’s disappointing security.
The outgoing mannequin had a two-star security score from ANCAP, and the brand new mannequin is a growth of the identical chassis – albeit with some significant modifications, somewhat than a stylistic nip-and-tuck.
Commonplace security gear within the US contains:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Lane departure warning
- Lane conserving help
- Blind-spot monitor
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Auto headlights
- Auto high-beam
The brand new Mustang shall be backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre guarantee in Australia.
Service pricing hasn’t been locked in, however the earlier mannequin supplied the primary 4 providers capped at $299 a pop, with intervals of 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
Every little thing it’s essential know in regards to the Mustang is summed up by the younger Dodge Charger driver, who pulled right into a rural Virginia service station as we have been refuelling the Darkish Horse.
He watched it from a distance, after which drove round and began asking questions, instructed us it was “clear as heck”, after which very politely requested to movie a startup and rev.
Some muscle automobile homeowners are non secular about manufacturers, however he confessed he’d fortunately personal a Mustang as a result of “it sounds cool as heck!”.
In all places we went within the Darkish Horse, somebody needed a glance; from present Mustang homeowners, to muscle automobile followers, to individuals who simply needed to know extra in regards to the low-slung beast burbling by means of their city.
It’s been 58 years and 7 generations because the Mustang debuted, nevertheless it nonetheless speaks to folks like few different vehicles.
The most recent is greater than only a present pony, too. It’s been refined in a lot of key areas, from the inside know-how and end (largely) to the way in which it stands as much as abuse on monitor.
Sure, you’re going to pay extra for it – particularly in Darkish Horse guise – nevertheless it’s grow to be a extra full automobile than earlier than with out promoting its soul.
I’ll take mine with a handbook, thanks.
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