The last all-gasoline powered version of the Ford Mustang roared to life on the Detroit riverfront Wednesday, boasting the most powerful iteration yet of the legendary Coyote 5.0L V8 engine and new styling and features developed to keep the original pony car relevant to generations that report to drifting and gaming more than burnouts and quarter-mile times.
Due to go on sale next summer, the 2024 Mustang will also offer a new 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and configurable features ranging from an instrument panel that can be configured to duplicate the sainted Fox-body Mustang to a remote start that allows the owner to rev the engine from a distance.
The reveal at the Detroit auto show was the final act in a celebration of the pony car that included 1,000 Mustangs and 1,600 owners from across the country who rolled into Detroit’s Hart Plaza on Wednesday lining Jefferson Avenue in what Ford called a stampede.
“We have kept the spirit of Mustang, including the V8 soundtrack and manual transmission,” Alicia Agius, Ford manager of strategy and transformation for enthusiast products, said Wednesday at the unveiling of the new Mustang at Hart Plaza on the riverfront. “We’ve also got some really cool new performance features.”
The new styling of the 2024 Mustang retains unmistakable Mustang cues, but adds features like tri-bar projector headlights and a rear lip that changes the car’s visual proportions, making it look longer and sleeker than the current model.
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The body and interior are all new, as is an electrical architecture that enables new features including over-the-air updates and adaptive cruise control that will bring the 2024 Mustang to a full stop in traffic. Ford’s Blue Cruise hands-free highway driving system is not on the table, however.
The coupe and convertible will both be available from the beginning of sales.
New lights, lower beltline
Key visual changes include a horizontal line above the grille that, with the three-lens DRL and headlights, emphasizes the appearance of width. The rear lip, which extends outward over tri-bar taillights, plays another optical trick, creating a striking body-width shadow.
The beltline — between sheet metal and glass along the sides — is five-eighths of an inch lower, giving the car a less wedgy appearance.
The rear fenders are very pronounced, with sharp creases, while the front fenders and doors are relatively smooth.
Details on dimensions, power and the like will be available closer to sale, but this seventh-generation Mustang, code-named S650, uses the same platform as its predecessor. The wheelbase is unchanged and other dimensions will be very similar to today’s Mustang, making the 2024’s longer, lower appearance even more striking.
Aerodynamic features include full-length underbody panels and a standard rear spoiler on the GT. Ford says the new body has a lower coefficient of drag and generates more downforce than the current model. Final figures for both should be available soon.
Modern, sporty interior
Like the body, the interior is entirely new. The most obvious changes include a pair of large screens in the cockpit: a 12.4-inch configurable instrument cluster and 13.2-inch touch screen in the center stack. In the GT, they will be connected by a glass panel. The impression of a wide, continuous screen is amplified by a ring of lights.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel is standard. It will have a number of satellite controls, including the ability to select among five drive modes.
The drifting-style hand-pull emergency brake’s design was overseen by race driver Vaughn Gittin. While it looks like an old-fashioned mechanical actuator, the brake is electronic, applying full power as soon as its pulled to provide extra control in turns and while drifting. There are two drifting modes, available only in track mode.
The interior will also feature a couple of intriguing new materials. Plastics made with laser-etched tools make the optional B&O sound system’s speakers almost invisible and create appealing new patterns. There’s also a new fabric for the standard cloth seats. A good-looking ungrained vinyl and natural leather will also be available.
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Different color seat belts will also be available, some of them striped.
The instrument cluster can be configured for a performance look, conventional layout or even to mirror the look of the old Fox-body Mustangs that were built from 1979-1993. The Fox Body platform is revered, both because it kept the Mustang torch burning for so long and because it succeeded the Mustang II, which was developed during a period of oil insecurity and soaring gasoline prices.
The silhouettes of all seven Mustang generations will be printed across the bottom of the rear window.
New engines, improved steering feel
The Mustang retains its classic rear-wheel drive layout.
The base 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder engine is entirely new, while the 5.0L V8 gets a couple of major upgrades, including dual throttle bodies and twin air intakes to improve breathing. Both engines can be expected to generate more power than the current models.
A six-speed manual and 10-speed automatic transmission will be available.
The Mustang will offer 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheels. Brembo performance brakes will be available for the first time, bearing the classic Mustang logo alongside the brake maker’s name.
The 2024 Mustang’s new steering system has a faster ratio, new rack and stiffer connections, including the cross-car beam to improve feel.
The active exhaust system matches driving modes and can be used for quiet “stealth” starts in the morning or remote-revving when you’re not in the car, depending on how you feel about your neighbors that day.
There won’t be any hybrid models available, at least initially. The Mustang coupe and convertible will eventually convert to electric power, but the seventh generation debuts with a purely internal combustion lineup.
The Mustang will continue to be built in Flat Rock, just south of Detroit.
Free Press staff writer Phoebe Wall Howard contributed to this report.
Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter. Become a subscriber.