2023 Ford Mustang Mk7

2023 Ford Mustang Mk7

The seventh-generation Ford Mustang has been revealed, with an opening line-up that includes more powerful EcoBoost and V8 versions, plus the 500bhp, track-ready ‘Dark Horse’


Ready to rumble

Six decades, millions built and the number one selling sports car in the world; roads without Ford’s Mustang on them would be a duller place (quieter, too), which is why the bunting should be hung high for the arrival of the seventh-generation version when it lands on our shores late in 2023. It could, after all, be the last petrol-powered Mustang we see. In fact, it probably will be.

2023 Ford Mustang Mk7

Ford hasn’t messed with its tried and tested formula when it comes to its latest pony car, with both the 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder and 5.0-litre V8 retained, albeit with significant upgrades to both engines. The four-pot has a new fuel injection and ignition system, a higher compression ratio and a new turbocharger, making it both more fuel efficient and more powerful. Exactly how much power it has Ford isn’t saying while it awaits type approval sign-off, but expect it to exceed the 287bhp that the old version bowed out with last year and at least match the 300bhp the Bronco enjoys from the same engine. As for the V8, it receives new dual throttle bodies and ram-air intakes and a new exhaust manifold and cam timing, along with a new steel oil pan designed to reduce friction, thus improving oil flow. Again, power and torque figures have yet to be clarified but Ford has claimed it will be the most powerful V8 yet to be fitted to a ‘regular’ Mustang, so expect a healthy uplift from the 444bhp and 390lb ft of the outgoing car.

2023 Ford Mustang Mk7

Two transmissions will still be offered: EcoBoost models will only be available with the ten-speed auto (not enough people bought examples with a manual gearbox), but V8 customers have the choice of the auto or a Getrag six-speed manual. The V8 also gets a new dual-mass flywheel, plus quicker gearshifts for the auto.

A squarer front end inspired by the original 1964 Mustang leads the design changes, with tri-bar LED headlamps adding the 21st-century-tech touch (the tri-bar rear lights remain, but are more prominent). Wider rear haunches and a shorter rear overhang help give a more compact, muscular look.

Beneath the new body – which comes in coupe and convertible forms with both engines – is the sixth-generation car’s chassis but with a number of key updates. Aluminium is now used for both lower suspension arms and the knuckles have been redesigned, with the rear suspension links now much closer to those of the Shelby GT350 in terms of their design. New spring rates and damper settings have also been developed, with the four- and eight-cylinder models receiving bespoke settings to better suit their characteristics and performance. There’s also a new steering rack with a 20 per cent quicker ratio, while Brembo has developed an uprated braking system.

An optional Performance Pack will add a Torsen limited-slip differential, additional bracing across the suspension turrets, thicker anti-roll bars, a larger radiator and cooling fan, bigger Brembo brakes and wider rear wheels and tyres, which are no longer Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4 S, but Pirelli’s P Zero PZ4. Recaro seats and Ford’s MagneRide dampers are also included with the Performance Pack.

Unfortunately there are also a couple of gimmicks Ford couldn’t help itself including. Owners can now remote rev their car’s engine (no, we’ve no idea why either) and there’s a new electronic drift brake as part of the Performance Package. This can lock up the rear wheels with four to five times more force than a regular handbrake to allow even greater errors of judgements when leaving cars and coffee meets.

Inside, Ford has given the 2023 Stang a very modern update and unfortunately this involves replacing traditional instrument dials with screens. Two of them, measuring 12.5 and 13.2 inches respectively, replace the double-bubble layout of previous models. Designed to appeal to a younger, gaming audience (known for dropping £40,000+ on a car), the screens are configurable to display instrument designs through the Mustang’s seven generations as well as allowing for over-the-air updates and the installation of Ford’s latest Sync 4 communications and entertainment software. Along with the tech update is a more driver-focused approach to the cabin’s design and the use of higher quality materials throughout.

That’s the standard models taken care of, but to sit above these Ford has also announced the ‘Dark Horse’, which is the result of combining elements from the Mach 1 and a number of the more bespoke Shelby variants. Designed for track work, the Dark Horse might have a curious name but its technical specification is pure thoroughbred.

New forged internals for the engine and the connecting rods from the 760bhp supercharged Shelby GT500 5.2-litre motor result in a solid 500bhp for the Dark Horse’s 5-litre V8, which will make it the most powerful naturally aspirated Mustang that Ford has produced. This engine is mated to a Tremac six-speed manual gearbox (the ten-speed auto is also available) with a Torsen limited-slip diff also fitted. Additional engine and transmission oil coolers are installed too, along with a lighter and more efficient cooling fan set-up.

There will be no mistaking the Dark Horse for the regular EcoBoost or GT models: it gets a larger front grille aperture and wider ‘nostrils’ to improve cooling, while smoked head and tail lights add to the dark theme, but it’s the aero elements that give the model its identity. There’s a fixed rear wing and front splitter, carbonfibre front wheelarch extensions, deeper side sills and a more aggressive rear diffuser, within which are packaged a quartet of larger exhaust pipes.

In terms of chassis upgrades the Dark Horse features the Performance Pack as standard but with further adjustments made to the spring and damper rates and front and rear anti-roll bars. Pirelli’s new Trofeo RS tyre is fitted as standard.

Alongside the new road cars, Ford has also revealed a variety of motorsport variants, including a factory-supported GT3 racer that will compete in the North American IMSA championship and see Ford return to Le Mans in 2024 in the European FIA GT3 series. Ford’s commitment to the Australian V8 Supercars series has also been confirmed, as well as a GT4 model and future NASCAR entries.

With the arrival of the Mustang Mach-E many thought the Mustang in the traditional sense was to be put out to pasture, but with over 80,500 sold each year around the world, Ford’s pony car isn’t done yet.

Above right: standard Mustang gets a more muscular look.

Below and previous pages: 500bhp Dark Horse takes things a step further still. Bottom right: race variants include GT3 and NASCAR contenders.

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