A sense of melancholy is hard to shake when gazing upon the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse. Even as we stand at Charlotte Motor Speedway, anticipating our drive on the Roval circuit, the impending departure of the V-8 pony car looms like a somber cloud on this sweltering day.
Yet, amidst the heavy air, the end signals a new beginning.
Draped in dark and moody shades, the Dark Horse exudes an appropriately ominous aura. Colors like Vapor Blue Metallic serve to diminish contrasts, harmonizing with the black elements on the hood, and creating an almost goth lipstick aesthetic around the headlights and grille. Mirroring the alterations found in the 2024 Mustang EcoBoost and GT, the car’s exterior styling and the freshly designed interior boasting a dual-screen dashboard stand out as the most significant modifications to this seventh-generation Mustang. How you perceive these changes is inherently tied to your age and the reverence you hold for this legendary nameplate.
The starting MSRP for the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is $96,895. This is for the coupe model. The convertible model starts at $100,395.
View the Dark Horse as a progressive step forward from the awe-inspiring predecessor, the Ford Mustang Mach 1. This outgoing vehicle, a standout in the Lightning Lap LL2 category (for cars under $65,000), provides an excellent foundation. While the evolution primarily revolves around exterior and interior enhancements, the chassis and powertrain receive tweaks that, although modest, are undeniably welcome.
Unveiling the engine bay reveals the prominent “5.0” emblem atop the double-overhead-cam 32-valve V-8. This powerplant features new dual-throttle-body intakes that elegantly traverse down to the enlarged openings in the bumper. Noteworthy improvements, akin to those found in the GT, include forged connecting rods sourced from the GT500. This upgrade, combined with fortified camshafts and distinct engine tuning, results in an output of 500 horsepower—a figure that strikingly aligns with the 2007 GT500’s, which was propelled by a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 engine.
The presence of every individual facet of the pony car legacy is profoundly palpable. The resounding, fierce symphony reverberates against the walls of the Roval as these horses gallop, effortlessly thrusting this near-4000-pound coupe into triple-digit speeds. Within the standard active exhaust’s four modes—Normal, Sport, and Track—sound levels span from “Very Loud” to “Even Louder.” We candidly admit to engaging the “Quiet” mode during our road drive to minimize any lingering drone.
When it comes to transmissions, the standard six-speed manual takes the spotlight, and it’s the choice that truly captures the spirit—nay, the duty—of a red-blooded American when driving a rear-wheel-drive car blessed with a V-8. As a continuity from the previous generation, the transmission landscape remains divided between the GT and the track-oriented trims. The GT retains the Getrag MT-82, while the Dark Horse dons the Tremec TR-3160, a transmission akin to the one in the Mach 1 and the dearly departed Shelby GT350. Both transmissions offer automatic rev-matching (which can be deactivated) and allow for no-lift shifting, permitting uninterrupted acceleration during rapid upshifts.
Opting for the 10-speed automatic transmission ($1595) trades off a measure of driving engagement for quicker acceleration and lap times. During our evaluation, the logic within the Track mode adeptly kept the car in the optimal gear for most turns, with the transmission delivering swift gear changes at 7500 rpm. (It’s worth noting that the manual has a soft limiter that kicks in 250 rpm earlier than the indicated redline.)
The resemblance to the Mach 1 becomes apparent, and for good reason. While a handful of differences exist, including larger anti-roll bars, varied chassis tuning, and the suite of upgrades applied throughout the Mustang lineup, the familiarity remains. This includes enhancements to the steering ratio, as well as improvements in overall system rigidity.
Standard-fit 19-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires measuring 255/40 at the front and 275/40 at the rear already leave an impression. However, the most significant transformation is brought about by the optional Pirelli Trofeo RS tires, accessible via the Handling package ($4995). With dimensions of 305/30 in the front and 315/30 in the rear, these tires are a game-changer. Noteworthy for being an optional tire for the McLaren Senna and standard on the Camaro Z/28, the Trofeo R tire’s evolution, the Trofeo RS, focuses on delivering remarkable traction while maintaining longer tread life. An illustrative comparison: The Trofeo R boasted a treadwear rating of 60, whereas the RS version raises the bar to 180. We’re eager to observe how this new Pirelli contender stands up subjectively.
Equipped with these tires, the Dark Horse radiates confidence effortlessly and rapidly. Within a mere lap or two, we find ourselves maintaining full throttle while negotiating the banking, soaring beyond 100 mph. The development team attributes much of this confidence to the tires, which also contribute to enhancements in on-road comfort and refinement.
Approaching 135 mph as we approach the significant braking zone that precedes the infield section, the Brembo six-piston front calipers seize onto 15.4-inch rotors. Working in harmony with the four-piston rear calipers clamping 14.0-inch rotors, these brakes deliver immense stopping power. Assisted by the standard magnetorheological dampers, the Dark Horse’s composure remains solid and controlled.
Nonetheless, we do note a couple of instances where the auto rev-matching didn’t activate during three-two downshifts. It’s important to mention that the vehicles we piloted were pre-production models, and no fellow attendees raised similar concerns. This hiccup in the trust-building exercise of learning a new track introduced a moment of hesitation.
Similarly, while tire grip is ever-present, the steering’s communication seems to lack precision during turn-ins or midcorner adjustments. While the steering wheel remains precise and responsive to the intended direction, it falls short in conveying vital information about the behavior of the front tires. Discerning their limits and interpreting road texture often requires listening to the tires (unless, of course, the exhaust drowns out that sound) or feeling it through the seat.
The Torsen limited-slip rear differential effortlessly channels power to the ground, resulting in a Dark Horse that generously indulges in its limits. In Track mode, Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability-control system permits a controlled degree of slip, providing a reassuring balance that can be maintained and corrected. This tool proves particularly valuable for newcomers to the track, especially on the Roval, where walls replace traditional runoff areas.
Any criticisms are minor. First, the base and optional Recaro seats ($1650) lack adequate lateral support for leaner drivers, making a kneepad or a risk of bracing against the rigid door armrest necessary to prevent knee discomfort. Second, those unaccustomed to the nuances of the manual transmission’s no-lift-shifting may find the feature somewhat delayed. Ford representatives assert this is a deliberate design choice to ensure stability when there’s minor steering input. However, some drivers may prefer controlling the shift during midcorner maneuvers and aiming for rapid shifts on straight stretches. Additionally, the Track mode gauge-cluster configuration includes a bar-style tachometer that extends to 9000 rpm, even though shifts occur around 7000 rpm, leaving a two-inch section of unutilized red space.
here is a table of the features of the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse:
|Safety, Security & Locks
|8 airbags, including dual front airbags, side airbags, side curtain airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag.
|Seat Belt Warning
|Audible and visual seat belt warning for all seating positions.
|Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
|Helps prevent wheel lockup during braking, which can help you maintain control of the car in an emergency.
|Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD)
|Distributes braking force to the wheels that need it most, helping to prevent skidding.
|Prevents the car from being started without the correct key.
|Comfort & Convenience
|Front and rear parking sensors to help you avoid obstacles when parking.
|Doors, Windows, Mirrors & Wipers
|Side mirrors with anti-glare coating to reduce glare from headlights.
|Power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps.
|Power-operated trunk lid with hands-free opening.
|Illuminated door handles.
|Interior Door Handles
|Leather-wrapped interior door handles.
|Door pockets with bottle holders.
|Headlight Height Adjuster
|Manual headlight height adjuster.
|LED tail lights.
|Ambient cabin lighting.
|Seats, Upholstery & Storage
|Choice of cloth or leather upholstery.
|Driver Height Adjustable Seat
|Power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support.
|Front Passenger Seat Adjustment
|Power-adjustable front passenger seat.
|Rear Passenger Seats
|60/40 split-folding rear seats.
|Choice of black, red, or white interiors.
|8 cup holders.
|Entertainment, Information & Instrumentation
|12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
|Standard Warranty (Years)
|3 years/36,000 miles.
|Standard Warranty (kilometers)
|5 years/80,000 kilometers.
|12-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Ford SYNC 4A.
|Available navigation system.
|Driver assistance features:
|Pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection
|System that can detect pedestrians and vehicles in front of the car and warn the driver, or apply the brakes automatically if necessary to avoid a collision.
|Blind spot monitoring
|System that uses radar to detect vehicles in the car’s blind spots and alerts the driver with a visual and audible warning.
|Rear cross traffic alert
|System that uses radar to detect vehicles crossing behind the car when backing up and alerts the driver with a visual and audible warning.
|Lane departure warning
|System that uses cameras to detect if the car is drifting out of its lane and alerts the driver with a visual and audible warning.
|Lane keeping assist
|System that can automatically steer the car back into its lane if it starts to drift out of lane.
here is a table of the specs of the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse:
|Dimensions & Weight
|No of Seating Rows
|13.3 cubic feet
|Fuel Tank Capacity
|Max Power (BHP)
|Max Torque (NM)
|6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic
|No of gears
|6 or 10
|Fuel Tank Capacity
|No. of Seating Rows
|13.3 cubic feet
|Suspensions, Brakes, Steering & Tyres
|Independent MacPherson struts
|Front Brake Type
|Ventilated disc brakes
|Rear Brake Type
|Solid disc brakes
|Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion
|Wheel Size (inches)
|Tyre Size Front
|Tyre Size Rear
|2024 Chevrolet Camaro SS
|2024 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
|2023 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
|2023 Toyota GR86
|2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Here are some of the pros and cons of the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse:
There are many reasons why you should buy a 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse. Here are a few of the most important ones:
here is a table of the reviews and ratings for the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse:
|“The Dark Horse is a Mustang that’s all about performance, and it delivers in spades.”
|Car and Driver
|“The Dark Horse is the most powerful Mustang yet, and it’s a blast to drive.”
|Road & Track
|“The Dark Horse is a muscle car that’s not afraid to show its teeth.”
|“The Dark Horse is a great choice for a high-performance muscle car.”
|“The Dark Horse is a great value for a high-performance muscle car.”
Here are some frequently asked questions about the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse:
The main difference between the Dark Horse and the GT500 is the engine. The Dark Horse is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 500 horsepower and 418 lb-ft of torque, while the GT500 is powered by a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine that produces 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque. The Dark Horse is also not available with the same level of performance features as the GT500, such as the carbon fiber wheels and the adjustable suspension.
The 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is not a good car for beginners. It is a powerful car with a lot of torque, which can be difficult to control for inexperienced drivers. The Dark Horse is also not as comfortable as some other muscle cars, and it does not have as many safety features.
The fuel economy for the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is not very good. The EPA estimates that the Dark Horse gets 14 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
The 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is expected to be available in dealerships in the fall of 2023.
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