New 2023 Ford Mustang keeps atmo V8 and manual gearbox

Ford Mustang GT 2023 front quarter tracking

The iconic Mustang returns for its seventh generation. This, the V8 GT, gets aggressive styling

Seventh generation of iconic car to hit UK next year with meaner look – but it could be the last

Ford has unwrapped its new seventh-generation Ford Mustang, which could be the final model in its 58-year history.

Launched at a huge outdoor event following the opening of the reborn Detroit motor show, the Mustang will hit the UK next year.

A bolder, edgier take on the classic Ford icon, the new 2023 Mustang remains on the previous generation’s S550 platform rather than being based on Ford’s latest CD6 architecture that underpins the current US-spec Ford Explorer.

This means the new Ford Mustang (codenamed S650) is more of a comprehensive reskin of the current car and that it will miss out not only on long-rumoured electrified powertrains but also the American brand’s next-generation autonomous driving aids.

Under the bonnet, both the 2.3-litre twin-scroll turbocharged Ecoboost four-cylinder and 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ V8 are carried over, although the former has been comprehensively updated with a new bore and stroke design and a fresh turbo.

The naturally aspirated V8, meanwhile, gets less dramatic updates, but does come with a new dual cold-air intake.

Both engines are claimed to push out more power and torque, while being more efficient.

Like before, a six-speed manual will be offered, but only on the most powerful Mustang GT with the 5.0-litre V8. An updated version of the 10-speed torque-converter automatic is optional in the V8 but is standard for the 2.3-litre Ecoboost.

Performance figures have yet to be released, but the fastest V8 version is tipped to launch from 0-62mph in around 4.0sec and top out at more than 170mph.

For the first time, Ford’s designers have provided strong visual cues to differentiate the V8 version from the Ecoboost.

Of the two, it’s the four-cylinder turbo that gets less shouty styling, including a new grille inspired by the original 1964 Mustang flanked by a pair of slimmer headlights, featuring new tri-bar LED daylight-running lights. 

The GT, meanwhile, gets more aggressive cues such as a gloss black grille surround plus a pair of nostrils within the grille that feed air to the new intakes.

Other changes are a new lower front bumper and a large bonnet extractor that not only vents hot air, but also channels high-pressure air from the front air intakes to reduce lift over the front axle.

At the rear, the V8 receives a larger diffuser and quad tailpipes in place of the turbo four’s dual pipes.

Within the cabin, the base models get twin screens, but mid-grade and above trims gain a new ‘continuous’ screen combining a 12.3in digital instrument cluster and a larger, 13.2in infotainment screen running Ford’s latest Sync 4 software.

Capable of being updated over the air, this new system enables a huge level of customisation that Ford hopes – along with the car’s styling – will attract younger buyers. One party piece is the ability to swap the modern gauge graphics for a digital recreation of the ‘Fox body’ (1979-1993) Mustang’s clocks.

Under the skin, the new Mustang carries over its MacPherson-style strut front suspension and the independent rear suspension introduced on the sixth-gen coupé in 2015. Both mounting points and linkages have been stiffened and new springs and dampers added.

A performance pack is also available, adding stickier rubber, 20mm-wider 275-section rear tyres, Magneride adaptive dampers, larger 19in rims (18s as standard) plus bigger Brembo six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers.

All models have a Torsen-style limited-slip differential and, for the first time, the Mustang gets a ‘drift brake’ that employs an electric handbrake to help coax the rear axle into huge slides, but only in Track mode. A line-locking burnout mode is also available.

Confirmed for right-hand-drive production for markets including Japan and Australia, where deliveries will begin before the end of 2023, there is still no word when, or if, the new Ford Mustang will return for another generation.

One of a select few cars to have remained on continuous sale since its introduction in 1964, the Ford Mustang has racked up more than 10 million sales and remained the world’s best-selling sports coupé for the past seven years, beating its key rival, the Chevrolet Camaro.

Commenting after the Mustang’s unveiling, Ford CEO Jim Farley said: “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.”

Ford reveals track-focused Mustang Dark Horse with 500bhp and handling upgrades

The Blue Oval has also unwrapped a new 500bhp Dark Horse performance variant that’s been created for those who will use their car on track.

Said to be the first new performance nameplate since the Bullitt was introduced 21 years ago, the new variant has been created to bridge the gap between the Mustang Mach 1 and the wild Shelby GT350 and GT500 twins.

Sharing the same 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ V8 as the standard Mustang GT, the Dark Horse gains a software remap plus forged internals – that include the connecting rods from the 760bhp GT500 – to help it produce 20bhp more than the standard lump.

To improve durability and keep it cool during hot track sessions, the Dark Horse bags NACA brake cooling ducts, an auxiliary engine cooler, a rear differential cooler and a lighter radiator that, combined with more powerful fans, boosts thermal efficiency.

A Handling pack is also available, adding stickier Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS rubber, stiffer springs, thicker front and rear anti-roll bars, and different dampers. Brembo six-pin callipers clamp down on 13.9in discs.

Pricing is tipped to be priced from $60,000 (£52,000), but there’s no confirmation that it will be offered in the UK.

In the US, two track-only versions – the Mustang Dark Horse S and Dark Horse R will also be offered.

The S is stripped of all its luxuries, getting an FIA-certified roll cage, safety nets and a fire suppressant system in their place.

Under the skin, a race-spec exhaust and adjustable suspension have been added. A new rear spoiler features at the rear to boost downforce.

The R goes a step further, introducing rigidity-increasing seam welds around the body shell, as well as a motorsport-derived fuel cell.

John Mahoney

Source: Autocar

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