2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: A Galloping Speedster with Track-Ready Charisma

Ford Mustang Dark Horse (motorautorithy.com)

Ford Mustang Dark Horse (motorautorithy.com)

A Review of Ford’s ultimate seventh-generation Mustang performance model

As I plant my foot on the gas pedal, the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse roars to life, and I find myself hurtling around the banked curves of Charlotte Motor Speedway. With the ferocious V-8 engine providing the soundtrack and a stadium seating simulation, I feel like a NASCAR driver. But this isn’t just about straight-line speed; I’m about to take the Dark Horse on a thrilling ride around the track’s infield course.

Unlike its predecessors, the Dark Horse doesn’t rely on the Mustang’s heritage for its name. Instead, it introduces a new performance moniker. However, this car could just as easily be called the Mach 1, as it’s essentially an evolution of the 2021 Mustang Mach 1, with increased power and a comprehensive set of suspension upgrades for the S550-generation Mustang.

An even 500 Horsepower

Under the hood, the Dark Horse is powered by the fourth-generation Coyote 5.0-liter V-8, generating an exhilarating 500 hp. It benefits from a dual air intake feeding dual throttle bodies, port injection alongside direct injection, and it features the robust connecting rods from the 760-hp Mustang Shelby GT500. These enhancements result in an additional 14 hp, pushing the total power output to an even 500 hp. This V-8 engine is a powerhouse, providing not only immense speed but also an addictive symphony of exhaust notes. While Ford hasn’t provided an official 0-60 mph time, it’s likely to be around or below 4.0 seconds.

Transmission opetions for nthusiasts

The Dark Horse offers two transmission options for driving enthusiasts. The standard choice is a Tremec 6-speed manual, which replaces the GT model’s Getrag unit. Both transmissions come with downshift rev matching, precise shift points with short throws, and a responsive clutch. However, the Tremec transmission is more robust, allowing for additional transmission cooling, making it ideal for track driving. The manual transmission adds an engaging element to the driving experience.

For those who prefer an automatic, there’s a 10-speed automatic transmission, updated for 2024 to hold gears longer during spirited driving. This automatic offers seamless shifts and doesn’t necessitate frequent use of the paddle shifters, providing a hassle-free experience on the track.

An excellence in performance that goes beyond straight Lines

The Dark Horse isn’t just a dragster; it excels in the corners, thanks to its enhanced chassis and a host of performance upgrades. The S650-generation Mustangs benefit from minor chassis refinements, improving the already sporty driving dynamics. The Dark Horse, like its GT counterpart with the Handling Package, features a stiffer under-dash K-brace, quicker steering, a stiffer steering column, and firmer rear lower control arm bushings. Additionally, it comes with the Handling Package, including Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer-performance tires, a strut tower brace, and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential.

The Dark Horse receives unique tweaks such as stiffer front springs, wider wheels, and custom-tuned magnetic dampers and stability control. It also generates more downforce due to design elements like the front fascia, lower side skirts, a fixed rear wing, and a rear diffuser.

For even more track capability, the Handling Package comes with wider wheels and super-sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS tires, adjustable front strut top mounts, front tow hooks, a larger rear wing with a Gurney flap, stiffer front and rear springs, and a solid rear stabilizer bar.

This combination of enhancements allows the Dark Horse to carry more speed through corners, reducing lap times and providing exceptional grip. The Trofeo RS tires offer improved performance, softer ride, better wet handling, and greater track longevity compared to previous models.

Balancing track performance with daily comfort

While the Dark Horse boasts numerous performance upgrades, it remains a practical daily driver. The magnetic suspension, referred to as generation 3.5, has been retuned to accommodate the suspension tweaks and offers a comfortable ride on normal roads. The suspension system can adjust the ride firmness based on different modes—Normal, Sport, and Track—ensuring a pleasant daily commute.

On the road, it handles abrupt bumps with ease and maintains comfort even with the road-grader Trofeo RS tires. These tires, while providing exceptional grip, can be sensitive to road imperfections and seams. Overall, the Dark Horse balances the high-strung performance with an enjoyable daily driving experience.

High-tech cockpit with retro touches

Inside the Dark Horse, the cockpit combines modern technology with retro-inspired elements. While the cabin is largely similar to the Mustang GT’s, it features unique touches such as a titanium blue-anodized shift knob, a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in synthetic suede, and blue accent stitching throughout. The available Recaro bucket seats provide excellent support during spirited driving.

The car is equipped with a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and a 13.2-inch center touchscreen, offering entertainment, performance monitoring, and controls for various driving features. While the screens may contrast with the car’s nods to Mustang history, they offer a user-friendly experience and quick responsiveness.

Priced starting at $60,865, the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse represents a significant upgrade over the GT model with the Performance Package. Given its substantial enhancements, including a robust 500-hp V-8 engine and a plethora of track-focused features, the Dark Horse justifies its price tag. It’s a track-ready powerhouse with everyday practicality, and it leaves the door open for even more potent Shelby versions in the future. For a NASCAR-inspired thrill or a high-performance daily driver, the Dark Horse has all the capabilities to make you feel like a pro, with your talent being the only limit.