GRR

New Ford Mustang keeps V8 and manual

15th September 2022
Ethan Jupp

Exactly a year on from when Ford CEO Jim Farley reassured us the 2023 Ford Mustang would live on as we know and love it during our chat at last year’s Revival, the new S650 generation 2023 car is here. There’s good news all around. He wasn’t bluffing. It looks good, it keeps the V8 and it keeps its manual gearbox – praise be!

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Let’s get to the meaty stuff. The V8 returns in a gently modified guise compared to before, with the biggest change being the addition of an extra throttle body and dual intakes, for reduced induction losses and higher flow rates. Effectively, it now has twin inlets, one for each bank of cylinders, almost like an old-school Ferrari. Power numbers aren’t yet known, though a figure in the region of 470PS (346kW) is expected. Ford claims this is the most powerful Mustang GT ever. Gearbox options are as above, a Tremec six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic, which Ford shares with Chevrolet. Obviously, there is the option of the EcoBoost four-cylinder engine too, which is now an automatic-only variant.

Like the engine, the underpinnings of the new Mustang are a gently massaged version of what came before, which is entirely unsurprising. There’s a new steering rack and refinements to the structure and geometry, but the wheelbase and footprint are the same.

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As with the last car, a Performance Pack can be had to tighten up the driving experience, with optional magnetic dampers. As standard, you get 19-inch wheels in a number of designs, red or black calipers, a clutch-type limited-slip diff and an active exhaust. New for the Performance Pack, however, is a manual-look handle for the electronic hand brake, with the system itself refined by none other than Vaughn Gittin Jr, for drifting. The non-performance pack just gets a switch, as in any other car.

There are up to six interactive and customisable drive modes for the new Mustang, including Normal, Sport, Slippery, Drag and Track. These will optimise engine character and response, chassis dynamics, steering and levels of electronic assistance. Line-lock returns in the aforementioned Drag mode.

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The Performance Pack isn’t the most Mustang you can get, though. There’s a new track-ready version coming right out of the box, called the Dark Horse. It ups the power of the already upgraded 5.0-litre V8 to around 480PS (353kW), thanks to new cams and custom tuning. To handle the power, there’s improved cooling, a torque-sensing limited-slip differential and a bespoke Tremec six-speed ‘box too. Chassis wise there’s also upgraded suspension and beefed-up bracing, to suit wider stickier Pirelli rubber.

You won’t mistake a Dark Horse for anything else, with more aggressive Shelby-esque looks, that incorporate improved aero. Ford’s heavy lean on track performance for this new Mustang is perhaps unsurprising, given it also provides the basis for the Blue Oval’s new GT3 car, but we’ll get to that in the next article.

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What about the looks of the standard Mustangs? You could best sum them up by saying it’s what the 2015 model would look like if it were launched in 2022, because that’s exactly what it is. There are more angles, deeper furrows, more aggressive vents and twinklier LED lighting. There’s actually a whiff of the Giugiaro Concept about it.

The biggest changes however are on the inside, where the classic double bubble Mustang dash is gone, in favour of a twin-screen setup. Ford has leant hard on the digitisation of the Mustang’s cabin to appeal more to younger buyers who grew up playing racing games.

“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 manager.

“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.”

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Behind the new flat-bottomed simplified steering wheel is a new highly configurable 12.4-inch digital cluster and alongside that is a driver-oriented 13.2-inch SYNC 4 infotainment system, which comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The digital cluster has drive mode-specific displays, as well as further customisability including the option of a Fox Body Mustang-style instrument layout. Retro. The new larger screen to its side now also allows peripheral data to be displayed, to free up the driver’s cluster for the essential stuff.

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Happily, the option of some Recaro bucket seats remains and even better still, the new Mustang should represent a jump in customisability and perceived quality for the cabin. In short, it should be a nicer, more expensive-feeling place to be.

So what do you think of the new Mustang? No, it’s not all-new, though every panel has been changed on the outside. But we reckon it looks good and packs a punch, with serious performance hardware to match Ford’s ambitions for the new Mustang in motorsport. We’re all for a V8 with a manual gearbox that lives on in 2023 and beyond and we’re especially all for that Dark Horse version.

  • Ford

  • Mustang

  • V8

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