The most customizable and greatest Pony car ever may also be the very end of the legendary icon! The 2024 Ford Mustang is celebrated to be the all-American muscle car for the modern age. As the lone media representative from our region, I had the distinct privilege of testing three all-new 7th generation Ford Mustang models, the not so entry-level EcoBoost, the GT fastback, and the GT convertible.
Everyone was wonderful and in good spirits, especially the Ford USA team naturally as they confidently and vibrantly discussed every new aspect and feature in the all-new model series during their presentations under the beating sun on location in Arcadia, California at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. Arcadia was chosen because of its proximity to the Irwindale Speedway for the autocross and drift exercises as well as the brilliant mountain roads of the Angeles Crest Highway, particularly the newly applied tarmac sections.
Traditionally, if a manufacturer retains the basic chassis and drivetrain, we would not concur in describing an updated model as “all-new”. In fact, the evolution to the 7th generation model was so expertly done that quite a few car experts would have to really pause, focus, and study the exterior aesthetic nuances to distinguish the old from the new. Once you do though, without even stepping into the cabin, you will recognize the profound changes. The new Mustang’s chief exterior design manager Chris Walter did an incredible job restyling the new S650 from the outgoing S550. The evolution does not orphan its predecessor but instead builds on the character while adding genuine aerodynamic performance and refinement improvements. The hard points, chassis, and the windows may be carried over, but there was so much exhaustive work done on almost every other component that I now completely agree that the new model is indeed “all-new” and should be recognized as such. With all the reengineering, modifications, and updates, even the chassis has fractionally decreased in length.
The feeling of pride, confidence, and accomplishment was more than palpable even before stepping into the test vehicles. And after testing the three models, those feelings from the Ford team are completely justified. It truly is a whole different situation when a product is created by the same people who love it and enjoy it in real terms. For example, I can easily say that you can feel and see the passion and dedication of the people working in the halo brands of Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, and Pagani. I’ve experienced it firsthand many times over the years when I visited the factories, but how many of the same people get to actually own and drive their products as end-users/consumers? Realistically, the more mass-produced Porsche would have the most in-house car owners of the four brands that I just mentioned because of its relative affordability and attainability.
The newly revised 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is more efficient yet more vibrant with 315 bhp @ 5500 rpm (only 5 bhp more than the previous stock powerplant) using a dual-fuel system and a new twin-scroll turbocharger with an electronically controlled wastegate combined with a sweeter sounding dual exhaust system mated only with the 10-speed automatic transmission. The thirst for a manual with RevMatching and No-Lift-Shift is only quenched with the V8 engine GT’s where it is offered. As good and engaging as the Getrag MT-82 6-speed manual is though, I ultimately prefer the efficiency, higher performance, and effortlessness of the 10-speed automatic.
The Drift Brake system, enabled exclusively in track mode, is standard on all Performance Packages on the new Mustangs and was co-developed with RTR drivers Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chelsea DeNofa, which allows novices to expertly drift through corners “with the ease of a professional drift car while maintaining the performance, comfort, and design characteristics that define the Mustang.” It is a novel and physically more attractive feature intended to entice new and younger car buyers to the Mustang world. When you don’t engage the drift brake, the digital good-looking hand brake functions normally. The Drift Brake is one of many new and unique engagement features of the new Mustang to level up personal entertainment.
Another cool new function purely for showing off to friends and family aside from the basic remote engine start and window functions using the key fob or FordPass App is the new RemoteRev feature which literally allows you to blip your throttle remotely accompanied with just the right amount of exhaust burble from outside of the car before it settles back to idle (specifically: the engine will rev three times in increasing engine speeds up to 5000 rpm according to the preprogrammed engine rev profile). However, not all Mustangs have this feature, for the EcoBoost cars they need to have the optional Active Exhaust, and only automatic transmission V8’s would have it.
The distinction between V8 and force-fed inline-4 powerplants are less obvious now due to the depth of customization. Ford showcased a sampling of the different available new exterior and interior colors, the more expansive choices of interior materials, more numerous wheel design and specification choices, and for the new prolific Brembo brake options, you get multiple color choices too with the inclusion of a minute detail, the signature galloping horse, as part of the fun Easter-egg hunt. Yes, the Mustang has an abundance of neat extra design features from the obvious like the silhouettes of every generation discreetly found in the bottom of the rear windshield glass, to a favored instrument functional design theme of the Fox Body, to the odd extra lights in the corner recesses of the front grille to meet pedestrian safety requirements.
The overall new design of the new Ford Mustang is elegant, purposeful, and emotionally charged. I love it! The new GT has a functional trapezoidal cooling outlet in the center of its aluminum hood, while the EcoBoost doesn’t. I like the new lines so much that I prefer the look without the big rear wing despite its dynamic purpose and would settle for the tiny version if I had to have one on a GT Fastback coupé.
I was certainly sold on the very handsome exterior aesthetics and was very confident with the promise of mechanical greatness of the latest 4th version of the Coyote V8 built on the magnificence of the outgoing Mach 1 powerplant which now revs higher all the way to the 7500 rpm rev limiter and is able to breath even better thanks to two throttle bodies, a new steel oil pan, hotter cams, and more resulting to 480 bhp @ 7150 rpm and 415 lb-ft of torque @ 4900 rpm or even better with the optional Active-Valve Exhaust system, 486 bhp @ 7250 rpm and 418 lb-ft @ 4900! 0-100 km/h is dispatched in 4.3 seconds with a governed top speed of 250 km/h. But what I was worried about most was the interior and hoped that it would finally get the attention that it requires and deserves. And man, the team exceeded expectations. The team have produced not only the very best interior packaging for a Mustang ever but set a whole new standard for maximizing automotive screens.
The cabin experience begins with not just the most attractive interior that a Mustang has ever had, but it is also the most comfortable with the very best NVH ever. While on the test routes, I was astonished and thankful for every new detail and enhanced old details. The cabin area is mostly the same but the redesign maximizes and optimizes it. The rear seats are still an acoustic sponge and visual delight for very young children at best. The 10-degree angled driver-centric screens are wrapped in a unified bezel using a 12.4-inch display above the steering column and a 13.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system over the center console powered by the Unreal 5 Gaming system to create its in-system data, animations and graphics. The sharp and crisp Mustang screens are the absolute best in the business by a long shot. Finally, a company optimizes the potential of using the screens for maximum driver enjoyment, literally giving the user all the options available to configure what they want to see. Bravo Ford!! And the infotainment system has full connectivity to both Apple and Android without compromise combined with a wireless phone charger and supported with the outstanding 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker audio with Sync4.
A universal and important functional improvement across the model range is the new electric steering rack with a faster ratio (15.5:1 vs 16:1) combined with stiffer mounting points which makes the all-new excellent steering wheel come alive with pronounced better feel and precision. The standard new Mustang GT comes with 13.9-inch (352 mm) vented discs with 4-piston Brembo calipers in front and 13.8-inch vented (350 mm) discs at the rear with single-piston calipers, but our test unit had the larger Brembo system from the Performance Pack (front 15.3-inch [390 mm] ventilated discs Brembo fixed 6-piston calipers / rear 14-inch [355 mm] vented discs with Brembo fixed 4-piston calipers).
The Mustang EcoBoost test unit we drove had very good driving dynamics with a compliant ride despite not having the adaptive suspension. The new standard suspension is finely tuned with balanced sportiness and comfort. It definitely hugged corners and behaved very similarly to its more potent brother. But frankly, especially if this generation is truly the very last of the breed, I highly recommend a bespoke 10-speed Ford Mustang GT Fastback with the Performance Pack and keep it for future generations to enjoy. I look forward to seeing, driving, and hearing the last of the American musclecar in our archipelago soon!