Ford has unveiled the seventh generation of the iconic American muscle car, the Mustang, in Detroit. Its exterior design has undergone an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary one while packing a lot more tech into the cabin. Most importantly, it has arrived with zero dilution of the Mustang spirit because you can still find a throbbing 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 under its long bonnet.
Still gets a V8 and a manual
The fourth-gen Coyote V8 for the all-new Mustang will be in its most powerful tune from the factory to date thanks to a new dual-throttle body design. Official performance figures are not yet detailed, but Ford states a target output of 480 horses out the gate with the potential for plenty more to unlock from the fourth-gen Coyote V8. There’s also an all-new 2.3-litre turbocharged four-pot for the EcoBoost variants said to be more powerful than before (maybe around 360hp) while also being more efficient. Both engines will be available with a 6-speed manual as standard with the choice of the 10-speed automatic.
Other mechanical updates for the all-new Mustang include a reworked steering setup for increased agility and better cornering. Choose some of the optional extras like the Performance Pack, and your Mustang gets upgrades like a Torsen limited-slip differential, MagneRide active suspension, bigger and better brakes, along with fatter tyres.
Sharper exterior styling
In terms of design, the new Mustang looks chiselled as opposed to beefy. There are sharp and clean edges all around, with no excessive creases or folds in the metal body. The result is a wider and meaner look for the all-American pony car. Its brow and the new grille design lend it a sense of mature aggression for the front end. This time, Ford has made two distinctive front fascias to differentiate between the EcoBoost and the GT V8 models, aside from the bonnet vents on the latter.
The tri-bar LED lighting units front and rear are still iconic shapes, just sharper and more modern in their styling. The most noticeable design aspect at the back of the new-gen Mustang is the rear deck that seems to extend over the rest of the bodywork, accentuating that chiselled appearance. The rear bumper looks chunky and somewhat rugged which suits the status of most Mustang buyers who are going to take the car to fields and ranches as well. You can identify the EcoBoost variants with the single-exit dual exhaust layout as compared to the dual-exit quad exhaust setup in the V8-powered GT.
As always, the Mustang Convertible looks the cleanest and most relaxed with the top down, while the coupe looks angrier. In profile, the seventh iteration looks a lot like the previous-gen S550, especially in the shape and curve of the roofline, but there are differences. For instance, Ford has lowered the beltline on the new Mustang to match the new look, while also redesigning the roof such that drivers can get in and out of the cabin without having to take off their track-day helmets.
An all-new interior
Inside the cabin, Ford fans will likely feel a mix of emotions. The traditional sports car dashboard, with analogue dials in the instrument cluster, is replaced by a modern layout with two large displays housed in a single piece of curved glass on top of the dashboard. In front of the driver’s new flat-bottom steering wheel is a highly customisable 12.4-inch digital display. The 13.2-inch central touchscreen for the infotainment system is angled toward the driver for a cockpit-like experience. Ford is also offering a high degree of personalisation for the different drive modes of the new Mustang from the SYNC 4 system.
The new centre console layout moves the dual AC vents below the display with just one array of physical controls. This includes the engine start-stop button in red, a volume adjustment dial, hazard lights, and a few more vehicle functions. In terms of comforts, the Mustang is available with a host of features like a premium B&O sound system, ADAS tech, built-in Alexa, wireless charging pad and power-adjustable seats. Speaking of seats, there are various finishes and looks to choose from depending on the trim. The top models come with proper leather upholstery while the lower variants are closer to the Mustang’s roots as a working person’s sports car. Even the plastics for the buttons around the cabin and the steering-mounted controls don’t exactly have a premium look to them.
Next to the drive selector/ gearknob and the cupholders lies a new special feature for the seventh-gen Mustang. It may look like a regular handbrake lever, but the new pony car comes with an Electronic Drift Brake function for drivers to masterfully control their tyre-burning slides with the stock handbrake. This feature was developed in close partnership with Ford-affiliated competitive drift teams.
Another cool new feature for the new Mustang is the ability to rev the car using the keyfob itself. It’s completely childish and we love it and we want all noisy cars to offer this feature. This might also be a safer way for Mustang owners to show off the sounds of their V8s at car meets.
As always, the Mustang has a 2+2 seating layout with two small seats behind the optional Recaro seats in the front. While not comfortable for anyone bigger than a child over long journeys, you can still technically squeeze your friends in there for a short drive. That combined with an adequately-sized boot, the Mustang continues to be a somewhat practical sports coupe.
Ford will begin sales for the new Mustang only in summer 2023, starting in the USA before taking it worldwide. In the meantime, we expect more updates to fill in the gaps regarding some of the performance details of the seventh-gen icon.
Dare to tame the Dark Horse?
For the first time in over two decades, Ford has introduced an all-new performance line for the Mustang. Following in the footsteps of the Mach 1, the Boss 302 and the Shelbys, we now have the Mustang Dark Horse.
The Dark Horse is the track-focussed version of the Mustang GT without the insanity associated with a Shelby model. It gets a host of visual changes to the front bumper, the grille with the nostril-like vents, different side skirts, a more aggressive rear spoiler, blacked-out details and a new Dark Horse badge. There are functional upgrades too, such as improved cooling for various mechanical parts, a lighter radiator, optional carbon fibre wheels, bespoke chassis tuning with increased stiffness, and track-focussed suspension.
The 5.0-litre V8 gets tuned up to around 500hp with a TREMEC 6-speed manual as standard while the 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters is also on offer. The rear wing, as part of the Handling Package, also features an integrated gurney flap inspired by the aerodynamics of the GT supercar. Ford also equips the Dark Horse with more appropriate shoes in the form of Pirelli P Zero tyres and optional Pirelli Trofeos for increased grip and handling.
There are also some changes to the Mustang’s digital displays and infotainment system, specific to the Dark Horse.
It’ll go racing (worldwide)
Ford is also offering more extreme derivatives of the new Mustang Dark Horse for track-only purposes to support grassroots-level motorsports. These will be the Dark Horse S and Dark Horse R. Additionally, the Blue Oval will be taking part in various top-level racing formats with GT3 and GT4 iterations of the seventh-gen Mustang, including a run at LeMans for a class win. There will be more factory-backed racing versions of the pony car for different formats, such as NASCAR and the Australian Supercar series.
What do you make of the all-new Ford Mustang? Are you a fan of the looks? Or are you simply glad to see the big V8 survive a little bit longer? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons blog for more cool updates from the car world. You can also follow us on Instagram for more automotive content.