This is something that doesn't happen often. At an event in Detroit Wednesday, Ford unveiled the 2024 Mustang, the seventh generation of its defining Pony Car, the best-selling sports coupe on the planet, and perhaps, America's most beloved car.
Wearing the chassis code S650, this new Mustang isn't entirely new, using the platform that debuted with the S550 Mustang in 2014. So, the hard points and the greenhouse are the same as before, but there are a lot of tweaks that add up to make the S650 look and feel different than its predecessor. "We're starting from a really strong place with the current generation car," Mustang lead engineer Ed Krenz tells Road & Track. "Specifically, the platform is really fit for what we're trying to do. Let's upgrade everything a little bit where we can, but do it smartly."
The base 2.3-liter EcoBoost is all new and benefits from a dual-fuel system that uses both port and direct injection and a new twin-scroll turbocharger with an electronically controlled wastegate. The 5.0-liter V-8 is the fourth-generation version of Ford's beloved Coyote engine, now sporting a dual-throttle-body intake system fed by openings on either side of the larger front grille. Ford isn't providing numbers for either engine yet, but the EcoBoost will offer an improvement over the 330 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque of the previous model, and the V-8 should offer at least 480 hp.
Transmissions are carryover, a standard six-speed manual with auto rev-match functionality from Getrag, and Ford's own 10-speed automatic. With automatic cars, the Mustang is fit with a new feature called "Remote Rev," whereby the engine can be started and revved by pressing a button on the key fob. (It's not available on manual Mustangs for obvious reasons.)
While the strut front and integral-link rear suspension are largely the same—save for new links on cars with 19-inch wheels—Ford promises that this is the most "athletic" Mustang yet. Eddie Kahn, the vehicle engineering manager for this new Mustang says weight should be right around the same as the S550. A new steering rack with a faster ratio (15.5:1 vs 16:1) and stiffer mounting points is said to improve on the S550's (already excellent) steering feel. "It only takes 15 seconds to feel the difference in the steering between this generation and the prior generation," remarks Krenz. "In a blind taste test, it's a massive difference. There's nothing subtle."
The Performance Pack also makes a return for both the EcoBoost and GT and brings with it a strut-tower brace, a Torsen Limited-Slip Differential, staggered tires, and bigger Brembo brakes and optional MagneRide dampers. Notably, the GT Performance Pack uses six-piston Brembo calipers up front with massive four-piston calipers in the rear.
Like a lot of modern cars, the Mustang has ditched its mechanical parking brake for an electronic switch. But, some S650 models come equipped with an "Electronic Drift Brake," which progressively locks up the rear wheels alone depending on how far the driver pulls the handle. Co-developed with drift star Vaughn Gittin Jr., the EDB looks like a small traditional parking brake, though the bolts on the side can be removed for customers to fit a vertical handle.
Shared hard points make for a design that feels familiar, though Ford went for an "edgier" overall look. The biggest changes are at the extremes, with new and unique front fascias for both EcoBoost and GT models, and at the rear, with a sharp, angular taillight design and a deletion of the black plastic panel that connected the two. Expected Mustang hallmarks are present and accounted for, including the triple-segment front and rear lights, and U-shaped grille.
Inside, the S650 Mustang is dominated by its large screens for gauge cluster and infotainment system. Base models have separate screens for each, while higher-trim versions have both integrated into a shared housing. As you'd expect, there are all sorts of configurations for the gauge cluster, even including a Fox-body display. The infotainment system is a version of Ford's Sync4, though there's a Mustang-specific drive-mode menu powered by Unreal Engine used by many video games.
Pricing won't arrive until closer to the 2024 Mustang's on-sale date sometime next year. We're also eagerly anticipating performance figures.
This new Mustang comes at an interesting time for American performance cars. Just last month, Dodge showed off the Charger Daytona SRT Concept, a preview of an upcoming electric muscle car while announcing the end of the line for the current Charger and Challenger . The Mustang's oldest rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, likely won't survive beyond this current generation. Soon enough, the Mustang could be America's only internal-combustion sports coupe. Given the typically long lifecycle for Mustang models—this is only the seventh generation in nearly 60 years—and the fact that Ford, and the world, is headed towards an electric future, this could also be the last internal-combustion Mustang.
"Are we going to be able to do it forever? I doubt it," says Krenz. "But we're going to do it for now."