It is laborious to keep away from feeling melancholy upon seeing the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse. Overlook for a second that we’re at Charlotte Motor Speedway and about to drive the Roval; the looming extinction of the V-8 pony automotive hangs like a black cloud on this scorching, humid day.
Hey, no less than the top is simply starting.
The Darkish Horse appears appropriately ominous painted in darker hues, like Vapor Blue Metallic, which reduces the distinction with the black parts on the hood and within the space engulfing the headlights and grille that appears like goth lipstick. As with the 2024 Mustang EcoBoost and GT, the outside styling and the brand new inside with its dual-screen sprint characterize probably the most important adjustments to the automotive, now in its seventh era. Your reception to each is probably going tied to your age and reverence for the long-lasting nameplate.
We’ll push that debate apart together with the melancholy as a result of, as we talked about, we’re at Charlotte Motor Speedway and about to drive the Roval.
From Mach 1 to Darkish Horse
Contemplate the Darkish Horse an evolution of the spectacular outgoing Ford Mustang Mach 1. And that automotive, the quickest in our Lightning Lap LL2 category (for automobiles underneath $65,000), is not a foul place to begin. Other than the outside and inside, the adjustments to the chassis and powertrain are comparatively minimal however welcome.
Pop the hood and the “5.0” badge sits prominently atop the double-overhead-cam 32-valve V-8 with its new dual-throttle-body intakes that snake right down to enlarged openings within the bumper. Together with enhancements additionally seen on the GT, the Darkish Horse engine good points cast connecting rods from the GT500. Along side strengthened camshafts and distinctive engine tuning, the engine makes 500 horsepower, neatly matching that of the 2007 GT500, which used a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8.
Driving the Mustang Darkish Horse
Each single pony feels current and accounted for. Their livid sound echoes proudly off the Roval partitions as they propel this practically 4000-pound coupe simply into triple-digit speeds. Of the usual energetic exhaust’s 4 modes, Regular, Sport, and Monitor begin at Very Loud and progress to Even Louder. We sheepishly admit to placing it into Quiet mode on the highway drive to attenuate droning.
A six-speed guide is customary, and it is the transmission it’s best to get—contemplate this your responsibility as a red-blooded American when it is supplied in a rear-drive automotive with a V-8. As with the previous-generation Stang, a transmission divide exists between the GT and the track-oriented trim ranges. Whereas the GT retains its Getrag MT-82, the Darkish Horse makes use of the Tremec TR-3160 from the Mach 1 and the dearly departed Shelby GT350. However, each transmissions characteristic automated rev-matching (that you may disable) and allow no-lift shifting, the place you retain the gasoline pedal pinned throughout a fast upshift.
When you’d slightly abdicate a level of driving enjoyment, the 10-speed automated ($1595) will definitely produce faster acceleration and lap occasions. Throughout our drive, the shift logic in Monitor mode was good sufficient to maintain the automotive within the right gear for many corners, and it made satisfyingly fast gear adjustments at 7500 rpm (the guide has an annoying delicate limiter 250 rpm sooner than the indicated redline).
If that’s the case far this sounds just like the Mach 1, that is as a result of it’s. A smattering of adjustments contains bigger anti-roll bars, completely different chassis tuning, and the opposite upgrades made throughout the Mustang line, like rushing up the steering ratio and enhancing the system’s total rigidity.
Whereas 19-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4s measuring 255/40 entrance and 275-40 rear are the usual fitment, the largest influence comes from the brand new Pirelli Trofeo RS tires, out there optionally as a part of the Dealing with bundle ($4995) and sized 305/30 up entrance and 315/30 on the rear. You could recall the Trofeo R tire for famously being elective on the McLaren Senna and customary on the Camaro Z/28. The RS is an evolution of that design, specializing in delivering excessive traction however with longer life. For instance, whereas the R’s treadwear score was 60, the RS’s is 180. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S and Cup 2 on the previous Mach 1 had been fairly magical. We’re curious how the brand new Pirelli will subjectively examine.
So geared up, the sheer traction means the Darkish Horse delivers confidence rapidly and simply. Inside a lap or two, we’re capable of hold the gasoline pinned via the banking whereas accelerating above 100 mph. The event group additionally credit the tires for enhancements in on-road refinement, primarily a big discount within the tramlining that was so prevalent on the GT350 and Mach 1.
Nearing 135 mph on the huge braking zone main into the infield, the Brembo six-piston entrance calipers chunk laborious on 15.4-inch rotors (the four-piston rear calipers clamping 14.0-inch rotors assist too), delivering great stopping pressure that, along side the usual magnetorheological dampers, retains the Darkish Horse steady and managed.
Twice on this spot, although, the auto rev-matching did not activate throughout the three-two downshift. The automobiles we drove had been pre-production, and nobody else on the occasion voiced an identical criticism. However, this failure within the belief fall that comes with studying a brand new observe added some hesitancy.
Equally, whereas tire grip is ever-present, the steering lacks essential communication when delivering or adjusting midcorner. Whereas the wheel is direct and correct to the route it is pointed, it tells you little in regards to the entrance tires’ conduct. You discover their limits and sense the highway texture by listening to them (assuming you are not being deafened by the exhaust) or by feeling it via the seat.
The Torsen limited-slip rear differential transmits energy to the bottom effortlessly, and the Darkish Horse’s limits are beneficiant whenever you do stumble via them. In Monitor mode, Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability-control system permits for small, encouraging quantities of slip that you may keep and proper. It is a good device to lean on for novices or observe first-timers, particularly on the Roval, which favors partitions in lieu of runoff.
Complaints are minor. First, neither the bottom nor the elective Recaro seats ($1650) present adequate lateral help for skinnier drivers, which means you will need to put money into a kneepad or threat bruising your knee from bracing it towards the unforgivingly ridged door armrest. Second, these with out mechanical empathy may discover the guide’s no-lift-shifting characteristic a contact sluggish. Ford reps say that is intentional, in order to not upset the rear when you’ve gotten a small quantity of steering in. We might choose to manage the shift ourselves midcorner and shift as rapidly as doable on the straights. And there is this: Within the Monitor mode gauge-cluster configuration, the bar-style tachometer goes to 9000 rpm, though you are shifting round 7000 rpm, leaving some two inches of ineffective crimson bar staring again at you.
Mustang Darkish Horse pricing
The Darkish Horse begins at $60,865 (together with vacation spot), or roughly the place a Mach 1 loaded with its Dealing with bundle, Recaro seats, and some different choices ended up. And really very like that automotive, the Darkish Horse performs on observe whereas delivering pleasing on-road manners. Whereas the opaque comms from the entrance finish imply it lacks the poise and sharpness of the also-not-long-for-this-world Chevy Camaro and its 1LE variants, no matter dynamic shortcomings exist do not actually matter. The Mach 1 was already faster at Lightning Lap, and the improved Darkish Horse is—and this bit is essential—truly on sale.
Whereas the top could also be coming for V-8 pony automobiles, the Mustang Darkish Horse is right here now.
2024 Ford Mustang Darkish Horse
Automobile Sort: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port and direct gas injection
Displacement: 307 in3, 5038 cm3
Energy: 500 hp @ 7250 rpm
Torque: 418 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
6-speed guide, 10-speed automated
Wheelbase: 107.0 in
Size: 189.7 in
Width: 75.5 in
Top: 55.2 in
Passenger Quantity, F/R: 55/30 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 13 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 4000–4050 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 3.8–4.3 sec
100 mph: 8.3–8.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.9–12.3 sec
High Pace: 165 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 16–17/14–15/22–23 mpg
Deputy Editor, Video
From promoting them to testing them, Carlos Lago has spent his total grownup life consumed by automobiles. He at present drives the inventive behind Automobile and Driver video.