2024 Ford Mustang Preview – New EcoBoost, GT, Dark Horse & Performance Racing Models

By Steve & Tamami Laser

When Ford rolled out the all-electric Mustang Mach-E last year, we wondered what the next Mustang® car might look like? Would it go bolder and deliver a totally new look? Or would it go retro, and bring back styling cues from the past? With the reveal of the 2024 Mustang this week in Detroit, the answer is, well, both.

We imagine the conundrum that designers faced when drafting the styling for the seventh generation models. If they took a radically different design approach, would Mustang’s huge fan base approve? (We remember the Mustang II launch in 1974).

As it turns out, designers did embark on a bold new road, without losing sight of Mustang’s amazing heritage. Meanwhile, the new Mustang stays true to its roots and continues with a rear-wheel-drive platform, powered by turbocharged and naturally aspirated gasoline internal combustion engines, and offers a choice of two-door coupe and convertible body styles.

This video, from the Ford YouTube channel, highlights the debut of the all-new 2024 Mustang during “The Stampede” event in Detroit. (video: Ford)

“Investing in another generation of Mustang is a big statement at a time when many of our competitors are exiting the business of internal combustion vehicles,” said Jim Farley (above right), CEO of Ford Motor Company (joined by Bill Ford, Executive Chairman). “Ford, however, is turbocharging its ICE growth plan, adding connected technology, opinionated derivatives, and hybrid options to our most profitable and popular cars – all in the Ford Blue family – on top of investing $50 billion in electric vehicles through 2026.”

Design Analysis – Creating the Seventh Generation

The illustrations below (courtesy of Ford), call out key design elements for the new Mustang EcoBoost® coupe and GT convertible (both wearing optional 19-inch wheels).

  • A lowered beltline in the side view balances the Mustang with less wedge and more muscle
  • The all-new bodyside offers a sheer, chiseled section with no undercuts between shelf and lower door
  • Horizontal brow emphasizes frontal visual width
  • Grille periphery between harkens back to original Gen 1 ’64-’67
  • The shark-nose grille allows a long hood, emphasized by the chamfered corners in plan view
  • GT has a unique, aggressive fascia with larger side outboard grilles
  • Both EcoBoost and GT front fascias have wider corners which enhance visual width and improve aerodynamics

  • A sharp undercut at the rear deck and fascia amplifies the sharp, chiseled edginess, while maintaining the heritage inspired design
  • The light catcher section gives extra prominence to lower door/rocker feature

  • Tri-Bar taillights are neither ornate nor discrete; this no-nonsense execution harkens back to the Mustang’s straightforward “pony-car” roots

  • Sharpness and attitude of rear fascia feature line enhances side view drama and adds visual width from a rear view

“Both the EcoBoost and Mustang GT have unique styling cues that deliver on their promise of Mustang Performance,” said Christopher Walter, Ford Mustang design manager. “The new Mustang is more chiseled and edgier, leaning into Mustang’s classic brawniness and timelessness.”

The new Mustang Dark Horse™ model, shown above in design development, gets its own unique look, with bold shadow graphic surrounds on darkened LED headlights, a gloss black grille with “trapezoidal nostrils,” a special lower front bumper with high-gloss “fangs,” lower side skirts, a fixed rear wing, race-inspired diffuser, and darkened quad exhaust.

“It’s more than a new name. Dark Horse brings a new design language to Mustang that is refined yet perfectly suited to its dual purpose of street and track performance,” said Joel Piaskowski, global director, Ford Design. “The visual changes, both inside and out, message that Dark Horse has a directed performance focus. The mechanical changes reinforce the purpose of Dark Horse, providing the driver with increased confidence and competence.”

What’s Under the Hood?

In the powertrain department, Mustang offers a new EcoBoost 4-cylinder, 2.4-liter, turbocharged engine, while the GT features a new generation 5.0-liter Coyote™ V8.

Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual (with rev-matching on GT), or 10-speed automatic, with Drive Modes. An optional Performance Pack includes a front tower brace, Torsen® Limited Slip differential, MagneRide active suspension, and larger Brembo™ brakes.

“We’ve taken the all-new Mustang, the best of our new 5.0-liter V8 performance, and added power, improved the aero, tires, steering and provided an interactive cockpit to create a Mustang that goes beyond any 5.0-liter Mustang before it,” said Ed Krenz (above), Ford Mustang chief nameplate engineer, regarding the Dark Horse.

Ford says the Mustang Dark Horse V8 is projected to offer 500 horsepower. When fitted with an available Handling Package, it’s said to be the “most track-capable 5.0-liter V8 street-legal Mustang ever,” thanks to improved aerodynamics, upgraded hardware, new software and tuning, with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The 10-speed automatic includes sport paddle shifters.

New High-Tech Interior

The new Mustang’s interior goes high-tech with a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and customized displays. For the ultimate digital cockpit, it can be optionally configured to flow with a 13.2-inch SYNC® 4 center display, both positioned behind a single pane of glass. A B&O® Sound System and wireless mobile phone charger are also available.

Cool features include the ability for the instrument cluster to display various animated designs, including drive-mode visuals.

“We knew what customers wanted and designed the most digital Mustang ever while retaining the all-important driver-focused cockpit,” said Ricardo Garcia, Ford interior design manger. “Removing some of these physical buttons, such as radio and climate control, and integrating them into a digital display was popular in research with Millennials, Gen-Z and traditional Mustang drivers alike.”

Ford says that based on the same Unreal Engine 3D creation tool used in video games, when selecting personalized drive mode settings, the Mustang’s current setup is displayed in real-time graphics.

“We’re taking advantage of every pixel,” said Craig Sandvig, Ford Mustang integration design manager. “We can be creative in showing necessary driving information and give the driver control of selecting colors, classic Mustang gauges or even a ‘calm’ screen where only minimal details are displayed.”

By selecting the GT Performance Pack, customers can opt for the comfort and support of Recaro® front seats. Mustangs are equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360™ driver assistance features, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering Assist, Evasive Steer Assist, Reverse Brake Assist, and Speed Sign Recognition.

2024 Mustang street models are expected to begin U.S. sales in the summer of 2023.

Dark Horse Leads New Track Models

Ford says that the intro of the Dark Horse includes a broader launch for six new racing models planned to compete on the track and in global racing events such as GT3, GT4, NASCAR and NHRA Factory X races.

“We’re taking this all-new Mustang to competition racing and the very definition of a Dark Horse is the perfect fit to introduce this vehicle to the Mustang brand,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “With our race program development underway, we’re confident we have the right car for success.”

Track-only Mustang Dark Horse S is designed for track day enthusiasts, with “non-essential” parts removed. An FIA-certified safety cage, safety nets, racing seat, safety belts and race steering wheel with quick disconnect are installed. Meanwhile, Dark Horse R gains serialization for racing, plus strategic seam welding, a fuel cell, and Ford Performance Parts wheels.

This additional video, from the Ford Performance YouTube channel, offers a preview of upcoming Mustang racing models planned for track use and global competition events. (video: Ford Performance)

Also slated to roll out during the next year is an all-new Mustang GT3 IMSA. Built by Ford Performance and Multimatic, the racing car is powered by a 5.4-liter Coyote-based V8. In addition, a new Mustang GT4 is also planned for the 2023 season, and offered for global GT4 classes in IMSA, SRO, and FIA GT.

Ford adds that a new version of the Mustang will debut next season in the Australian Supercars series. And new models are also planned in the years to come for the NASCAR Cup series and NHRA Factory X racing. Ford also plans a return to Le Mans, with the Mustang GT3, said to be eligible for racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2024.

“Mustang is raced at all the great tracks around the world, but there is no race or track that means more to our history than Le Mans,” said Bill Ford (above). “It’s where we took on Ferrari and won in the 1960s and where we returned 50 years later and shocked the world again. Mustang will go back to Le Mans. Once again, we will Go Like Hell.”


For more product information visit Ford.com and FordPerformance.com

Note: Preproduction models with optional equipment, along with development vehicles and design illustrations are shown above. Features, specifications and launch timing for future U.S. regular production and special racing models is subject to change without notice

News sources, photos and videos courtesy of Ford Motor Company and Ford Performance

Story (intro and commentary) © 2022 CarNichiWa.com