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One Remaining V8 To Rule Them All

It’s been a moderately robust 12 months for automotive fanatics – particularly those who can’t get sufficient of rumbly, high-displacement engines that shake you to your very core. Now we have and can proceed to mourn fairly a number of of those fallen American heroes, particularly right here within the States. Properly, all aside from one.

Final fall, Ford went forward and did one thing so reverse of what its two Detroit counterparts had carried out and dedicated to in months prior. The automaker didn’t announce the neutering of the Mustang, nor did it say “this was it” and the Mach-E could be the one Mustang left on Earth. Nope. As an alternative, Ford mentioned the Mustang could be returning for a seventh era in its most final of preventing varieties, full with its strongest V8 up to now. This automotive wouldn’t be a swan tune for the nameplate. If it was, it will a minimum of stay on the books for the foreseeable future, lengthy after Dodge retires its Hemi Challengers, the Camaro is lastly put to relaxation, and Corvette goes hybrid, electrical–wherever that’s going. As an alternative, Mustang established itself as the driver’s automotive, aiming to personal the books in future as the one remaining driver’s [read: also racing] automotive from the Huge Three. The one query now was, will it rise as much as exceed everybody’s expectations in its new function?

Full Disclosure: Ford flew me and a gaggle of journalists out to Charlotte, North Carolina to play with the 2024 Mustang Darkish Horse on monitor at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and on the country-mountain roads surrounding the monitor. I used to be offered flights, a room, and sustenance. Oh, and sufficient pleasant giggles I hope to final me till the following time I’m privileged to drive a V8, if I can discover one in a efficiency automotive that’s not a truck or SUV.

My esteemed Jalopnik cohort and author, Erin Marquis, had the privilege of driving Ford’s barely less-powerful Mustang choices only a week earlier than I encountered the Darkish Horse, so I’ll direct you to her items on the Ecoboost and the GT on your personal perusal and informative studying enjoyment. And from right here on out, this portion of the experience is proscribed to the curious thrill-seekers who additionally occur to have some huge cash dangerously burning of their pocket.

What Is The 2024 Mustang Darkish Horse?

The star of this pony present is the Darkish Horse’s 5.0-liter V8 Coyote engine, tuned at 500 horsepower at 7,250 rpm. Certain, sure, you will get the 5.0L V8 within the GT, however even optioning the lively valve exhaust received’t get you an identical sort of energy – topping out at 486 hp on the identical 7,250 rpm. These 500 horses are contained or moderately, managed by way of a Tremec TR2160 six-speed handbook, or Ford’s 10-speed auto. Energy is fed to a Torsen restricted slip rear axle (3.55:1 for the auto, 3.73:1 for the handbook), placing energy to 2 separate units of wheels relying on whether or not you’ve optioned for Darkish Horse’s Normal configuration or its Dealing with package deal. Normal receives summer-only Pirelli Zeros, whereas the Dealing with pack will sport summer-only Pirelli Trofeos.

Image for article titled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: One Final V8 To Rule Them All

Photograph: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik

Such an aggressive automotive comes with just-as-aggressive equipment. Within the Darkish Horse’s case, a black-gloss decrease entrance bumper options larger “nostrils” within the grille. You’ll additionally see decrease aspect skirts and an ever-so-slightly extra tapered rear (a 0.8-inch distinction in comparison with different seventh-gen Mustang fashions) accented with a set rear wing.

Particular solely to Darkish Horse is its very personal Blue Ember metallic paint – the signature deep blue (blue-gray in some lighting) seems nearly amber (or to my shock and delight even a pearly pink) at sure angles and underneath sure lights – obtainable solely with Ford’s Darkish Horse Look Package deal. Inside, the identical look package deal contains Recaro seats that includes black suede paired with Indigo Blue bolsters and accent stitching. The identical contrasted theme seems on each mushy contact level all through the cabin. After which, there’s the ultimate piece-de-la-resistance: the sunshine blue titanium handbook shift knob. *Chef’s kiss.*

The 2024 Mustang Darkish Horse On Monitor

Ford offered its visiting journalists with a reasonably first rate playground to unleash the Darkish Horse’s totally different setups: Charlotte Motor Speedway. Granted, our playground for the morning was a truncated model of Charlotte’s roval, bringing us across the oval banking by means of flip 2 and turning into the street course effectively earlier than the bus cease. However, the shorter setup actually didn’t take away from the enjoyable of testing this 500-hp monster.

I opted to go massive for monitor time and begin with a handbook Darkish Horse outfitted with the Dealing with Package deal, which supplies one-inch wider entrance (10.5 inches) and rear (11 inches) wheels in comparison with the Normal Darkish Horse package deal. These wheels are wearing Pirelli Trofeos which can be extra rather more track-friendly [read: stickier, more quickly].

Image for article titled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: One Final V8 To Rule Them All

Photograph: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik

Admittedly, my first run within the handbook is a bit clumsy. It’s my first time on monitor at Charlotte, and in addition within the automotive, so I used to be nonetheless making an attempt to realize some type of muscle reminiscence, rapidly, of the monitor and the place the shifts are within the gate.

On my third run, with what could be the identical automotive (the second run I grabbed one of many automatics), issues have been actually clicking. That is the place I most respect Ford’s buttery clutches as I quickly run by means of gears across the oval’s banking, guffawing as I attempt to redline shifts – the roaring 5.0L echoing off the stands and contained in the cabin.

Right here I make the most of Ford’s no-lift shifting, preserving my foot planted on the gasoline whereas partaking the clutch to aim an up-shift. The trick is you don’t have a lot time to do it earlier than the ‘rev-match’, if you’ll, sends the rpms proper again as much as the place your foot really is on the pedal. I really feel my instincts preventing me as I preserve my proper foot planted and discourage it from lifting as my left foot dances on the clutch. I solely missed the shift window as soon as, and the rpms soared into the stratosphere. I feel it’s there that I make an embarrassing comment that was captured on the in-cabin video. Regardless, I’m grateful for one much less factor to consider once I do efficiently shift with out lifting, which supplies me with a bit of additional mind energy to focus on the monitor, my pace, and the following nook.

A brief dip in pace across the hairpin, then I’m fast to the accelerator, hovering in third to attempt to lace myself alongside the racing traces. Regardless of making an attempt to push myself round every flip a bit of extra, I notice I’m not wherever close to breaking the rear unfastened. I attempt to push myself a bit of extra, and the automotive stays planted. At this charge, you nearly really feel such as you’re failing the automotive – as a result of the engine needs you to push it. It calls for you push it. However the chassis tuning mixed with bigger rear sway bars, MagneRide dampers and specifically engineered, wider tires, retains you firmly on the monitor, nearly tying up your monitor expertise with a neat little bow. Right here, I notice, you don’t need to be probably the most expert or skilled driver on the monitor, as a result of the automotive supplies pure help. It’s designed that will help you be a extra assured driver in each monitor maneuver, clearly inside limits.

The automated additional proves this excellent of a monitor assistant. The one auto I’d tracked earlier than this was Audi’s RS 3, and the Mustang is unquestionably a far better beast by far. I attempted my hand at handbook shifting, enjoying with Darkish Horse’s anodized paddle shifters, however 10 speeds are an terrible lot to shift by means of and I certainly wasn’t doing in addition to what Ford’s engineers had programmed the Darkish Horse to do.

So, after a really quick fumble with that, I surrendered and let the pc do the work. Possibly permitting the transmission to search out its far more effectively to the proper gear and rpm helped, or possibly it was useful to me not having to consider all of the issues happening monitor, together with my braking zones, turns and downshifts, however I did discover myself hovering by means of the course within the auto. I even hit my prime pace (113 mph) on my second stint with the automated.

Handbook or automated, it’s insanely straightforward to get the automotive’s pace effectively into the triple digits, however that glory was additionally so quick lived for this specific journey, because of the sharp hairpin on the finish of the nook that required some quick laborious braking and finesse to get to the remainder of the street course with out completely binning it. Fortunately, no Mustangs have been harmed on the trickiest of Charlotte’s corners.

Darkish Horse On The Open Street

Your greatest downside or fear behind the wheel of a Mustang Darkish Horse will likely be preserving it throughout the confines of the pace restrict. It’s not that you simply need to deliberately pace. It’s extra that you simply’re having fun with the ambiance of the exhaust notice (set to your sound desire from an nearly stealth-quiet to HELLOOO I’M HERE), because it responds to your shifts and throttle enter. After all, once more, this automotive is continually pushing you to offer it extra, and also you subconsciously proceed to chase its very tempting carrot till you’re taking a look on the speedometer, see you’re at [redacted] and make an try and decelerate.

Image for article titled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: One Final V8 To Rule Them All

Photograph: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik

In some unspecified time in the future, you, the weekend-warrior racer, notice you’re not on a monitor, however as a substitute, some quiet nation twisty roads. That is alternative calling, and also you’re behind the wheel of “probably the most {powerful}” manufacturing Mustang (exterior of Shelbys) to-date. Your chariot to enjoyable land has arrived, and you’ll get misplaced within the journey. Nobody can blame you. Possibly not even Ford. They know what they created.

Image for article titled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: One Final V8 To Rule Them All

Photograph: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik

For a performance-based automotive infused with monitor day DNA, this steed (heh) is mighty snug to spend the day in. The Recaro seats are removed from a dealbreaker for long-distance journey on this specific iteration of the Darkish Horse. Certain, you would say that I felt that means as a result of I’m a small-framed particular person, so I naturally match into these seats higher than most. However I’ll argue that I sat in these seats for a strong 4 hours, after a full morning monitor session, and didn’t require any aids in extracting my outdated physique out of the seat.

The identical consolation may be mentioned of the experience, the place the chassis and MagneRide shine vivid. The identical stunning combo making your monitor day really feel extra clean than a Hoonigan video stunt efficiently achieved, is making your work day commute extra tolerable than a efficiency automotive needs to be on the street. I examined this idea by crossing a number of practice tracks on our Sunday drive about North Carolina, and whereas we didn’t hit the tracks at blasphemous speeds, we additionally didn’t child the automotive or decelerate to five mph to traverse them both. Nothing about it was jarring or stiff.

Image for article titled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: One Final V8 To Rule Them All

Photograph: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik


With the dying of the V8 Hemi and Challengers and certain, the long-seemingly-dead-already Camaro, there’s not a lot else on the market to select from in relation to having a enjoyable, track-capable horsepower hungry car from Detroit. Which makes you ask your self if the Mustang, or its meaner Darkish Horse mannequin, are merely extra particular as a result of they is likely to be the final, enjoyable V8 American sports activities automobiles you should buy.

In some ways, sure. Completely that’s the case. However that doesn’t imply you need to have a look at Mustang as able to persevering with to fill that engine-shaped gap for under the sake of its rarity. Take a look at it as one thing particular as a result of it’s, comparatively, one thing particular. It’s a car made for drivers, whether or not that’s each day, studying the way to monitor, or probably the most skilled of drivers. The added 500-hp V8 beloved Coyote engine is simply the cake topper to a really scrumptious cake.

And within the meantime, Mustang, and its Darkish Horse are completely satisfied to take that well-deserved crown of V8 darling, or a minimum of earn it earlier than its counterparts go extinct. As I discovered on the monitor, it can actually be keen to place up a combat.

Image for article titled 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: One Final V8 To Rule Them All

Photograph: Lalita Chemello / Jalopnik



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