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Latest and most tech-rich Mustang to date remains one of the cheapest ways to get a V8 coupé

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With more than 10 million cars sold across a production run stretching more than 60 years, the Ford Mustang has a firm spot in popular culture. Which means almost everyone has their own idea of what it should be. 

Whether it’s a boulevard cruiser, something to lazily rumble its way down a motorway or simply a way to wake the neighbours on a Sunday morning, it probably is to me what it isn't to you. But there has always been one constant: it's one of the cheapest ways to bag a new V8 coupé.

This S650 generation is no different, with prices starting from £55,725 for the base GT model. Even the more powerful Dark Horse variant - from £67,995 - appears temptingly priced, considering its suite of track-oriented upgrades.

Ford hopes this, and the fact that it is now only available with a V8, will continue the pony car's evergreen appeal among loyal customers, while also helping it to attract fresh, younger buyers.

To appeal to the latter, this is the most tech-rich Mustang there has ever been - coming with twice the computing power of the last one, a drift-inducing electronic handbrake, the capability to receive over-the-air software updates and the ability change its digital screens (up to 13.2in in size) to a retro 1970s look. 

You can think of the S650, then, as more a comprehensively and technologically overhauled piece of American muscle that draws on six generations of experience in trying to be the best of the breed. Have they succeeded?



ford mustang gt review 2024 02 side panning

Ford has clearly worked to address the flaws of the previous generation, including overtly dull idling burble, the inefficiency of its V8 (we got 18.9mpg during our 2016 road test), and questionable material quality. 

This new generation uses the same platform and drivetrain layout, but the 2.3-litre four-pot Ecoboost engine has been dropped in Europe while the naturally aspirated eight-cylinder 5.0-litre Coyote engine charges forward into this emissions-regulated era. It doesn't come through entirely unscathed: while the US version of the high-performance Dark Horse is significantly more powerful than the standard car, over here it gets just seven extra ponies.

This seventh-generation car is 91mm longer and 18mm lower than the car it replaces, but retains the same 1916mm width. That means it's a notable 230mm wider than the latest BMW M2 and 99mm wider than a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS.

So while it retains the sheer size, sleek roofline, squat stance and short rear overhangs of its forebears, its designer Chris Stevens - who worked on the last car and the Shelby GT500 variant - gave it a wider grille, menacing LED headlights, fresh three-bar lighting at the rear, a front track increased by 3mm in width, and a redesigned rear diffuser to help make it the most aerodynamic Mustang there has ever been.

But calling it pretty would be like calling The Barbican pretty: it's too brutal, too unvarnished and nowhere near delicate enough. It's certainly as charming as it is menacing, though.


ford mustang gt review 2024 08 dash

The big change inside is that the traditional double-cowled analogue instrumentation has been digitised. But the double-brow dashboard, body-hugging sports seats and thick-rimmed steering wheel remain, so S550-gen owners will feel instantly familiar with it.

All UK cars will come with a dashboard-width digital display running Ford's latest Sync 4 software. It combines a 12.3in instrument cluster and a 13.2in infotainment screen and can receive over-the-air software updates. Too modern? Just switch those new graphics for a recreation of the clocks from the 1979 Fox-body Mustang.

Below the screen sits a row of shortcut buttons for de-fogging the windows, turning off traction control and - rejoice - a simple knob for stereo volume. The gear shifter in manual cars feels tactile to hold too - especially the solid metal knob fitted to the Dark Horse variant - with a satisfyingly short, sharp and mechanical throw. Even the automatic retains a chunky lever.

Fit and finish are quite good. The controls and buttons feel sturdy enough, well-damped and evidently on the receiving end of some real attention to ergonomics, with a traditional-style handbrake lever (even though it is electronic), a button to turn off lane keep assist mounted on the steering wheel, and the gearstick sited close to your thigh.

The infotainment itself is generally fine to use. It's easy enough to get used to, thanks in part to being powered by the Unreal Engine developed for advanced console games. The only lag it presents is when you ask it to cycle between different driving modes in quick succession - you can blame a slightly over-the-top accompanying animation for this.


ford mustang gt review 2024 20 front tracking

The Mustang offers a variety of drive modes spanning Normal (where everything is set to comfort), Sport (increased throttle response, stiffened dampers, reduced steering assistance), Slippery (reduced throttle response for wet conditions), Track (altered damper settings and stability control), Drag Strip (higher engine speeds), and a Custom mode.

The modes don’t provide as much difference to the driving experience as you might expect, with even Normal offering the V8’s full 440bhp and 398lb ft, and all the rumbling charisma you would expect. At idle, the engine sounds purposeful, if a little subdued, but if you want even more noise, Sport mode opens an additional exhaust valve.

Under acceleration, and especially above 4500rpm, the Mustang GT really comes alive, tensing up around you and building via a raspy crescendo to its 7500rpm redline. It feels faster than its 5.3sec 0-62mph time and 155mph top speed suggest, but not so quick as to intimidate the driver. 

Despite the additional performance, the Dark Horse doesn't feel different enough in regular conditions to justify the £12,270 price hike over the GT car – on the road, at least. On track, we suspect the differences would become more apparent.


ford mustang gt review 2024 21 rear cornering

Our test car rode on performance-oriented Pirelli P Zero tyres and 19in alloys, and had a primary and secondary ride quality that was easily comparable with premium German rivals', isolating you from lumps and bumps with a reassuring, rubbery solidity mostly created by its MagneRide adaptive dampers, which use a camera to spot potholes and alter the suspension settings so the alloys glide over the imperfection rather than dip into it.

There’s an impressive amount of grip, but not so much that it works to the detriment of the car's playfulness. You'd never call it agile, but you feel the car working with you rather than against you, enabling predictable directional changes. 

On motorways, the Mustang feels like a pretty convincing GT car, with a low-slung but comfortable seating position, plenty of cabin space up front and, at 70mph, a relaxed engine speed of around 1500pm. It can't match the BMW M2 for outright cruising ability, but it gets close.

The manual gearbox allows you to savour its performance, of course. It requires a bit of force to get it in exactly the right gear at the right time, but once you work it out, it is hugely rewarding.

One thing you do notice when pushing on, however, is the car's 1738kg weight. Above and beyond a certain point, it begins to feel slightly languid, proving itself to be a machine most capable and comfortable at eight-tenths.


ford mustang review

Costs are an obvious draw, because no matter which version you go for, it's impossible to go faster than this - and get more cylinders - for less money. For now, there are two versions on sale: the £55,725 GT and the £67,995 Dark Horse, making the GT the cheapest new V8 car on sale in the UK.

But what you gain in purchase savings, you may lose in fuel costs. On our test drive in France, we saw 14.9mpg from the trip computer. Then again, given too few people chose the four-cylinder in the old car for Ford to continue offering it, we suspect fuel economy is low on Mustang buyers' priority lists.

We would recommend the manuals over the auto, and the standard GT is more than powerful enough and ultimately nearly £12,000 less than the Dark Horse, which has only 7bhp more and whose benefits are unlikely to be felt unless you're on a track.


ford mustang gt review 2024 23 rear static

This Mustang is one of the most convincing there has ever been, merging muscle car charm with the kind of rolling refinement you would associate from premium German rivals, at a more affordable price.

Ultimately, a BMW or Porsche might remain the more obvious choice of sports coupé, especially since they will be kinder to your wallet in the long term, more comfortable when pushing on, easier to place on the road and a lot less conspicuous.

But the Mustang is now able to compete with them on ride and handling, and Ford has paid attention to exactly what its customers want in giving them something that mixes technological advances with traditional appeal. Buyers would seem to agree: the Dark Horse variant has already sold out until the end of the year.

Still, we’d recommend the manual GT, which has more than enough power, convincing driver appeal and an affordable price to make it one of the best sporting coupés on the market, and the best Mustang of the breed.  

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Assistant

Jonathan is an editorial assistant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, writing used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.