2023 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is the new king of pony cars

Despite the ongoing electric car revolution, Ford has managed to keep the traditional pony car alive with the debut of the all-new seventh-generation S650 Mustang. While the new version of the world’s best-selling sports car is already exciting on its own, the all-new Ford Mustang Dark Horse promises to be the most powerful race-oriented car with a 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood with 500 horsepower. . There are some serious tools you can get with this thing.

Funny name aside, Dark Horse has arrived as the first all-new special edition Mustang since bulit It was first introduced in 2001. While nameplates like the Mach 1 or the GT500 hold a certain amount of historical expectations from customers, global design director Joel Piaskowsk explained to R&T The move to the S650 generation opened a new opportunity for the Mustang team. More specifically, the new platform has allowed the automaker to push the boundaries of what a Mustang can be.

Piaskowski said in an interview with R&T. “ We have a great heritage, but that leaves the door open for future opportunities. This is where we see understanding our customer base, knowing that we want to attract a new customer. We know the current customer well, and we have a GT that really resonates with that customer, but we feel Dark Horse is this new entry that we really feel brings a different customer into the mix. He’s more focused on the track.”

That focus on circuit readiness begins under the hood, where the familiar 5.0-liter Coyote V-8, now in its fourth generation, sits. For the Dark Horse, it’s packed with several unique components meant to improve performance, including a tougher set of camshafts, as well as a forged crankshaft and connecting rod setup borrowed directly from the outgoing GT500. Combined with the unique engine calibration, the Dark Horse promises to deliver as much horsepower as a 5.0L Coyote engine. Ford hasn’t given us an exact number, but we have an idea. At the reveal event, Ed Krens said Ford is targeting at least 500 horsepower.

The powerful V-8 can be paired with either a 10-speed automatic transmission, or a six-speed manual sourced from Tremec available in Mach 1. The latter gearbox is a welcome addition in this case, as the standard MT82 manual gearbox from Mustang has He often regretted her lack of finesse on the right track. The Dark Horse team also wanted to celebrate manual customers by introducing the gearshift knob inspired by the titanium exhaust found on the car. mid-engine GT super car. The transmission itself is topped with a 3D-printed blue titanium oxide piece, which has a unique texture underneath to help cool the surface.

While the S650 generation is already largely based on the outgoing S550 chassis, Krenz notes that about 85 percent of the car is new. Automakers tend to use a different definition of this word than the rest of us, but Dark Horse specifically packs some chassis modifications for use on the track. Every Dark Horse Mustang comes equipped with MagneRide shock absorbers, which have been recalibrated for the S650. An auxiliary engine oil cooler, a rear axle cooler and a lighter radiator work together to improve cooling capabilities. Choose the Performance Package, and you’ll receive more chassis tuning tweaks, larger sway bars for the rear, and a set of heavier shocks up front. Ford Performance’s unique strut tower strut and K-strut help improve handling and chassis feedback. A Torsen rear differential arranges things when out of a corner, while 19-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero PZ4 tires combined with a set of massive Brembo stoppers.

If you still need more capability, Ford will also offer the Track Package, which also offers a unique rear spoiler with integrated Gurney flap. This aerodynamic package provides more downforce than any new Mustang on offer. Stiffer springs are also part of the package, as are upgraded front and rear sway bars, and Pirelli Trofeo tires. You can even select a set of carbon wheels from Carbon Revolution, which marks the first time it has been shown on a model other than Shelby.

“There is part of the main idea in this product of what are the best things from the previous Shelby that we can put together,” Krenz said. “One of our company’s strategies has always been to develop technology on top of our cars, and then lower them and make them more accessible. That’s also why when you introduce a new series like Dark Horse, you want them to be on top.”

Some Shelby traits continue with the Dark Horse’s design, which is reminiscent of the current GT500. The front end is more horizontal than before, reflecting the squared-back profile of this 760-horsepower beast. The aerodynamic beams only stress this family relationship, as the front splitter and side skirts come close to the current width. The rear diffuser and dark black exhaust set look menacing, meant to hint at the performance on offer from the Dark Horse. As you’d expect, there are plenty of unique Dark Horse decals around the car, which features plenty of detail work we haven’t yet seen on a Mustang. The same can be said about the Blue Ember metallic paint, which turns from bluish-gray to customs orange depending on the light. The effect is almost similar to the famous Mystichrome hue effect found in SN95 generation than a Mustang, albeit more mature in its execution.

Like every S650 Mustang, the Dark Horse features an interior that’s more tech-packed than before. That starts with the 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and 13.2-inch center stack, which now powers Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment system. This brings in fine details like over-the-air updates and wireless CarPlay functionality. The system is also powered by the Unreal 3D Engine, which delivers a suite of new on-screen graphics that will look right at home in 2022. The darker pieces will replace the brighter units in the rest of the set, while they will replace 12 speakers whose B&O stereo plays melodies. Blue stitching comes standard, while the deep indigo seats are part of the Dark Horse look package.

Leaning into the track-focused nature of the Dark Horse, Ford will be releasing two different track types known as the Dark Horse S and the Dark Horse R. The S gets a full FIA-certified seat cage and safety nets, a racing seat with seat belts and a racing steering wheel with Quick separation. It also comes with a set of multiple DSSV dampers and Brembo Racing brakes. The Dark Horse R model is much tougher to date and includes all of the above content, but it will be serialized by Ford for use in proper motorsports events around the world. These cars also receive some spot welding for more power, as well as a racing fuel cell and Ford Performance wheels.

The Ford Mustang Dark Horse will arrive as the range-topping pony car sometime next spring, as long as Ford is able to keep its supply chain problems in check. While pricing information has yet to be released, expect the Dark Horse to be priced higher than the current Mach 1 offerings. We’ll learn more about pricing and actual performance metrics as the sale approaches.